[Yes, this is an older post as it was first posted in September of 2014 but I decided to leave it up just the same.]
It’s hard to escape the attention Fox’s new drama is getting, so I wanted to do something akin to a preview just to share some thoughts. And, boy, do I have much to share! So much so that this is getting cut into two parts. So this weekend, it’s on to part one!
“Gotham” is a prequel that delves into the backstories of not only Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) and James Gordon but also some of their most infamous antagonists such as Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, and others rumored to appear. It’s kind of like an origin story for the city itself, only with human faces. Personally, I think it will be gripping to see how a shared environment shaped these iconic characters into what they eventually become, for good, bad, and all points in between.
Now, people tend to either hate origin stories or enjoy them. I enjoy them provided they’re done right. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I’m likening “Gotham” to the rebooted Star Trek franchise in that we glimpse some very quintessential characters as their younger selves and, hence, witness an expansive “before” snapshot rather than an “after.”
Now let’s get started with the rouges galley, starting with the “baby Bat” himself…
Okay, okay – David Mazouz isn’t actually Kiefer Sutherland’s son, but he did play Kiefer’s character’s son on the short-lived Fox drama series. Talk about your six degrees of separation…or maybe just two or three.
I think Mazouz is a good choice and has proven he has what it takes to deliver a deeply emotional performance despite his age. I love watching young actors because you never know who might be the next big, breakout star and it’s awesome to see them showcase their talents. So, I’m excited to see Mazouz’s take on the young Caped Crusader.
I know Ben McKenzie starred in Fox’s own teenage soap “The O.C.” and TNT’s cop drama “Southland” but I never watched either of those shows. (You’re free to hate me, I suppose.) While I can’t comment on McKenzie’s acting, based on what I understand regarding his character’s background for “Gotham,” he has some mighty big shoes to fill as well as a meaty role to gnaw at. It will be interesting to see if his youth works for him or against him, especially since I’ve been reading early comments that Gordon’s character is naive.
Really? Just because a character has high morals and a desire for justice doesn’t mean he’s a wimp. You have heard of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” right? High morals? Check. Desire for justice? Check. Wimpy? Nope. In the same way, Gordon might have to get his hands dirty in order to clean up some of Gotham’s messes, which is not the same as being a naive little twerp who hangs out in the precinct all day. To be fair, McKenzie doesn’t physically look tough but I sense his character will be.
Or should we say Catgirl. In any case, my money is that this little lady (newcomer Carmen Bicondova) will be a far better Cat-soon-to-be-Woman than a certain other recent adaptation. (Sorry Halle B., but S&M getup and an uber-bad mask does not a Catwoman make. And that’s bad meaning “bad,” not bad meaning “good.”)
Selina is a street urchin and I find those types of characters compelling. There is a difference between an orphan who still has family-like persons tending to him (much like Bruce Wayne – oops, did I just let a spoiler slip?) and orphans who are truly all alone. Selina seems to be in the latter group, which makes her more malleable in terms of how she chooses to become one of Gotham’s most wanted, so I really look forward to seeing how her character pans out.
Bicondova is also young talent and, if I can recall, she’s also a dancer. So she’s too young to audition for Fox’s own “So You Think You Can Dance” but she can land a role on a Fox drama? How cool is that!
Oh, heck yeah!
When I first heard that this character was being pegged as not your grandma’s Alfred, I got excited. Butlers often get confined to being stony-faced silent types who dabble in the domestic arts while contributing little else. But butlers hold some serious potential; after all, they see the inner workings of a family! That has to be rife with drama, not to mention they have the potential to spill some serious beans.
Any version of Pennyworth I’ve seen before is just okay – he’s never been presented as a dork or a doofus, thank goodness, but he’s just not, dare I say, cool. But butlers have the right to be cool! They rule the house (kinda). This version of Pennyworth is being described as “tough-as-nails” and an “ex-marine from East London.” All of those things ring huge bells of delight for me because butlers can be fun, interesting characters provided they manage to stay out of stock character-ville. So here’s to hoping for the best.
But something tells me this guy will kick posteriors with the best of them all while keeping a cool, hard exterior…like a boss.
Oh, man – I can’t think of the Riddler and not see Jim Carrey. But as long as this version of the Riddler sidesteps the Carrey-esque facial expressions and Kool-Aid colored buzz cut, I think I’ll be okay. (Not to mention not being given lines like “Joygasm!” That is something no one should repeat. Ever.) Personally, I think the Riddler is cool and weird but not in a creepy kind of way (like the Joker). He’s not my favorite Batman villain but he’s definitely in my top five. Oh, and I just realized the Riddler’s surname here is a pun. Nygma. Enigma. Get it?
I envision Cory Michael Smith’s version will be less like a walking glow stick and more like a darker, more brooding “Big Bang Theory” cast member cast-off – think Sheldon crossed with Leonard but with a helping of angst and a whole bunch of late nights stuck in the forensics lab:
“What is it, Sheldon? Uh, I mean, Riddler?”
This is not a character from the “Batman” canon, which has some fans upset. Some folks don’t think a new edition is necessary but I don’t see what the big deal is. I’m all for switching things up provided (a). any changes stay in line with the spirit of the original source material and (b). the focus always reverts to the canon characters (meaning the bulk of the story and attention is on them).
Again, I’m going to cite 2009’s Star Trek as an example: the character of Nero isn’t in the Trek canon but he worked for what the story required and fulfilled qualifiers A. and B.: Nero’s character fit in with the Trek spirit and most of the film’s attention was on Captain Kirk and Co., not him.
Sometimes all of this die-hard canon stuff gets restrictive, so much so that story-writers barely have room to do anything new or unique. In terms of how Mooney’s character pans out, for me as long as she (a). fits in with the spirit of “Batman” and the whole Gotham vibe and (b). doesn’t steal the limelight from the canon characters, I’m cool with adding her. I sense she’ll fit in just fine as far as Point A is concerned but as far as Point B goes, I think she’s a bit of a scene-stealer. Though I’m not sure anyone would want to challenge her for that.
If you thought Carrie Underwood’s character in her video for “Before He Cheats” was nasty with a Louisville Slugger, that’s nothing compared to what Mooney can do. And she’s not into just smashing headlights either. That would be too kind.
In case you don’t know, one of her own henchmen rises up to have an underground empire of his own, and I think she’ll end up being very sorry for treating him like dirt. In the words of Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow”: You should’ve known better/Than to mess with me, honey.
Which is why I saved my personally most anticipated character revamp for last…
Actually he’s going to get his own post next week, cleverly disguised as part two. How’s that for blatant character bias?