MaHB / TV: Once Upon A Time In Gotham

Esquire Malaysia + Esquire Singapore, October 2014

Once Upon A Time In Gotham
The new TV series traces the origin stories of beloved DC Comics characters.

By Sophia Goh

The great thing about a good comic book character is that if you wait long enough, someone will eventually make a movie or a TV show about him or her. Depending on how diehard of a comic book fan you are, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. (I’m going to take a stand and say it’s a good thing.) But when you have a really, really good comic book character, well, then you will probably get to see it on both the small screen and the big one in a never-ending variety of incarnations. Case in point: Batman.

Batman is probably my favourite superhero. There’s just this great complexity to him, an intriguing mix of darkness, humanity and charm, with a shiny topcoat of fast cars and fancy gadgets. We were pretty spoiled by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, and while I can’t say I’m equally excited about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – not yet, anyway – I do stand by the casting choice of Ben “Give the guy a chance” Affleck for the Caped Crusader. That movie doesn’t hit theatres till 2016, but in the meantime, as if to whet our appetites, a new TV series called Gotham is making its debut. Touted as a Batman prequel, the show is an interesting take on the Batman saga because it goes all the way back to when Commissioner Gordon was a young man.

Written and executive-produced by Bruno Heller, who is best known for The Mentalist, Gotham is “an origin story of the great DC Comics super-villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told,” as the official synopsis puts it. Even better, the protagonist of Gotham isn’t any of those super-villains or vigilantes. Ben McKenzie (he’s come a long way since his days on The O.C., hasn’t he?) stars as the young Gotham City detective James Gordon, who, when local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered, meets the only survivor at the scene of the crime: the Waynes’ 12-year-old son, Bruce. While the series follows Gordon’s turbulent rise through the Gotham City police department, much of the focus will be on his unlikely friendship with Bruce, heir to the Wayne fortune and sole charge of his butler, Alfred. And, as promised, Gotham will also show us the circumstances that led to the birth of such villains as Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker.

DC Comics fans are in for an exceptional treat this autumn TV season. In addition to Gotham, three (yes, three!) other TV shows based on DC Comics characters are also expected to make their debut: The Flash, the Arrow spinoff starring Glee’s Grant Gustin; iZombie by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas; and Constantine, which stars Matt Ryan as a supernatural detective. My money’s on Gotham being the best of the lot, but that’s just me being a little biased.

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