Turn off the Lights

Please Don’t Make That Gotham Show

Hey! Did you hear? Fox has a TV show in development based off of Ed Brubaker’s gritty crime comic set in DC’s Gotham City, Gotham Central. Well, or not, it could be a Smallville-esque teen drama detailing Bruce’s teen years. What is for sure, is that they’re trying to make a Batman prequel series work (because DC has a problem that requires them to have Batman showing somewhere at all times)

Now I’m not one to decry something off the bat (ha HA). A good writer can make anything work, not to mention that different isn’t always bad. Sometimes different can be very good.

But here I must plead: dooooonnnn’t make this shoooowwww. Please? Please. Why not? Here’s why not.

OH GOD THIS STORY AGAIN?!

If you’re reading this you’re probably pretty well versed in comics, but just in case, there’s this little obscure character, you might have heard of him, his name is Batman. Anything? Ring any bells? Oh it does?! Oh right, of course, because HE’S ONE OF — IF NOT THE — MOST POPULAR COMIC BOOK CHARACTER OF TODAY.

I could pick ten people off the street and pretty much all of them could tell me Batman’s origins. We get it, really. This isn’t exactly unexplored territory. How many books have shown this? How many movies, how many TV shows? How many more times am I going to have to listen to this story?

Sure, I get it. This take will be different. To that I that I say this: the most interesting aspect of Batman isn’t how he got in the suit, it’s what happens once he’s in there. That’s where philosophical matters come into play, that’s where the conflict comes from. His training years, his pre-bat stage, should be relegated to montages and flashbacks only. That’s all you need!

ALL YOU NEED!

But I hear it even now… these won’t focus on pre-Bat-Bruce, or at least not entirely. Well fine. Let’s think about this for a second.

Smallville-esque Teen Drama and Why That’s Not Batman

A widely accepted facet of the Batman mythos, is that Bruce died with his parents that night. Figuratively, I mean. He then became the boy that would eventually manifest as Batman. A troubled, obsessive, guilt-ridden boy. Remember, he didn’t put on the lovable billionaire playboy Bruce mask until after his training, after he had decided to stop crime with his fists.

So lets look at our teen Bruce. Dark. Brooding. Constantly haunted by his parent’s deaths. He has friends, but he’s not really close to them. He goes from school to combat practice to his giant empty manor every night. He gets into fights, he doesn’t really socialize, he’s not a person who would get into teen dramas.

 

He’s made uncomfortable by armfuls of women

There’s an easy way out, and I’ll get to that at the bottom. However, the other ways around this are two terrible options and one redundant one.

Terrible Option 1: They don’t make Bruce the main character and instead follow a new girl who tries to learn “what’s eating Bruce Wayne” and then become his friend. One, her goal to bring him out of his shell would be to undo the whole Batman myth. Two, it would also ensure this main lady would die by series’ end which, if it was popular, would not happen. Plus, this option basically turns Bruce into Edward from Twilight, and I cannot allow this to transpire.

Terrible Option 2: They change Bruce Wayne. They take the edge off his anger and make him more like, well, pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent. He just wants justice done because it’s what’s right. However, Batman’s moral code has always been driven more by revenge against crime than following the justice system. If it wasn’t, he’d be a crusading DA or a self-funded politician. Instead he takes to the streets to punch the kind of people that destroyed his life. Batman doesn’t learn to reign in his anger until a few years after donning the cowl, CERTAINLY not during his teen years.

Redundant Option: We follow Bruce and his relationship with this awesome girl. She teaches him how to be a person again after years of stewing in anger. They solve crimes together, she takes him out of his comfort zone, they fall in love. Bruce starts to… dare I say it… be happy. Then, at the end of the series, she dies, driving him into the cowl. It’s not a bad way to go, but it has been executed perfectly in a movie you might have heard me talk about before.

And that’s just on the treatment of Bruce himself! The treatment of universe itself is even worse. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly is quoted as saying, “This is all of the classic Batman characters. It follows the arc of how they all became what they were…”

So you’re going to have all the classic characters in one high school? They’d have to. Most of the character’s pasts are so different it wouldn’t make sense any other way. Oswald Cobblepot wouldn’t go to school with Bruce (different family standing), nor would Victor Fries (too old), or Selina Kyle (too poor). In other words, they wouldn’t really have “all the classic Batman characters.”

To pull this off you’re just re-imagining everyone. Most of, if not all, Batman’s characters are going to school with Bruce. Jack Napier is the class clown with a sociopathic streak, Pamela Isley looooves the environment, and you get the idea. It would basically be Gotham High:

Pre-Batman Crime Procedural and Why That’s Redundant

Let’s say it is a Jim Gordon show. There were rumors it was dealing with Gordon as a detective and Bruce as a 12 year old side character. There are a few problems with this.

To start, a pre-Batman Gotham is just a crime show in a crime-ridden fictional city. Why even mess with the Batman connection? Yes, I know it’s for brand recognition. It was rhetorical. However, that’s still leaves us with the same problem. It’s just a police procedural with some DC mobsters and, maybe, the occasional D-List pre-Batman villain. That doesn’t sound worth it. That doesn’t sound enticing.

Alas! If you read the linked article, you’ll know that it was rumored they were planning to include characters like Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler. Which makes noooooo sense. Real quick, most Batman lore puts Bruce at about 30 when he dons the cowl. For argument’s sake, lets say he’s 25. That means those characters have been around for 13 years before he became Batman. In pretty much everything, Catwoman and Riddler are portrayed younger than Batman. Catwoman for sure and Riddler never as much as 13 years older. That would put Batman in a weird love affair with a 40 something Catwoman (cougar jokes GALORE!). I doubt it’ll feature  Gordon hunting down a 10 year old Catwoman (Catgirl?).

“These AARP benefits are puuuurrrfect.”

The thing is, all of this seems like FOX is dancing a really obvious question…

Why Not Just Make a Batman Show?

The easy answer of how to treat Teen Bruce Wayne in a Smallville-esque show is to treat him like Adult Bruce Wayne. He pretends to be a playboy and that everything is okay, but at night he goes out to fight crime. BUT THEN WHAT’S THE POINT OF MAKING A PREQUEL?

Is it because you can’t have a different Batman on TV and in the movies? But you’re still having two Batman universes even if Bruce isn’t in the cowl. It’s not like people wouldn’t get it, I think that when they see a different person in a different suit they’ll understand what’s happening.

Is it because it’s too expensive? I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that if you had a live action Batman show featuring “all the classic characters” you’ll make so much money. You get into dangerous waters with things like Birds of Prey, where you go into the mythology half-assed, but a full on, prime time, adult BATMAN show would rock TV. It would be huge, well worth the cost.

The elements were there?

Smallville went for 10 seasons. Yes, it worked. It was Buffy: The Vampire Slayer meets Superman. It was engineered that way because Buffy was gigantic at the time. And you know what? They did Batman meets Buffy too. It’s called Batman Beyond.

Stop messing around with this prequel stuff. No one’s excited to see a 17 year old Bruce juggle girl problems with finding out who’s causing people in chem lab to have panic attacks (could it be that creepy Jonathan Crane kid?) or to see a Detective Gordon attempt to solve crimes by shoehorned villains with the frequent young Bruce Wayne cameo.

People want to tune into to see Batman, in the suit, solving crimes and kicking ass. That’s what made the character great, that’s what made you guys billions. Go with it.

 

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Comments

  • disqus_NNwFvFKoNE

    Why did the author of this article assume that Selena Kyle/Catwoman would be 25 years old at the start of this show?

    As we have seen, she is approximately the same age as Bruce in the show. But it didn’t make sense to assume that she was going to be 25 when the show starts just because its assumed Batman dons the cape first when he becomes 25 (currently he is 12).

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