BitterSweet: Gotham

In this week's BitterSweet, Amy Gildert weighs in on superhero origins show, Gotham.

Amy Gildert
27th November 2017
Image: Bruno Scramgnon (Pexels)

BITTER

The premise of FOX’s Gotham is a simple one. It follows a young James Gordon as he attempts to solve the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents and fight the rampant crime in Gotham city. But what is intended as a gritty prequel story for a side character in the Batman franchise more frequently comes across as campy and emotionally shallow.

Although Jim Gordon is meant to be our titular character, he has the emotional depth of a puddle. He begins with a strong set of moral codes that is essential to his identity. However as the series progresses he loses these codes, and the writers fail to give him any replacement characteristics, meaning that he increasingly comes off as cold and unlikable due to his lack of depth. Despite this, almost all of the female characters inexplicably have a thing for Jim. Aside from rugged good looks, Jim Gordon has zero qualities that make him a desirable partner. He’s married to his work, his enemies will probably kidnap you, and at this point I’ve forgotten the last time I’ve seen the man smile. Ladies of Gotham: you can do better. I question whether the writers have ever met an actual human woman, because this dilemma can only come across from male writers who think that their character is the be-all-end-all of male attractiveness.

On a similar note, the villains of Gotham also all seem to be obsessed with Jim for no other reason than that he is the only competent detective in the entire police force. It’s no wonder that the city is overrun with crime when the police department is constantly in shambles.

SWEET

While the plotlines sometimes come across as a bit campy and over the top, they do perfectly fit in with the theatrical plots of the Batman comic books. As the series progresses you can tell that the writers have felt more comfortable experimenting with the source material, and they combine the more whimsical side of the Batman villains nicely with the realistic aspect. Gotham is at its best when it embraces its whimsy without straying too far from the rules of believability it establishes in its world building.

From an acting point of view, one of the best things about Gotham is David Mazouz’s exceptional performance as Bruce Wayne. Child actors can often be hit or miss, but Mazouz brings a new depth to a familiar character that is very much welcome among the seriousness of Jim Gordon. By beginning the series with the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, we are dropped right into the action, and as a result we see Bruce at a heightened point of emotion that is normally only featured as a brief flashback in the films. This makes all the following character development so much sweeter, and I found it very easy to get emotionally attached to Bruce, particularly in his relationships with Alfred and Selina Kyle. The villains themselves are also a more captivating aspect of the show, and seeing their development from normal characters into villains really drives the narrative.

VERDICT

Despite questionable plot choices and Jim Gordon’s poor character development, Gotham ultimately remains SWEET due to how it delves into characters origin stories, and the expansion of the original comics.

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