It was recently announced that Matt Reeves’ The Batman, after a four-month production hiatus, will resume filming on "coronavirus-proof" sound stages at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden rather than in previously planned locations in Glasgow and Liverpool. The first in a planned standalone trilogy from WB and DC Comics, The Batman will see Robert Pattinson take up the cape and cowl for the first time. He will be pitted against Zoe Kravitz’ Catwoman, Colin Farrell’s Penguin and John Turturro as crime boss Carmine Falcone, in what is set to be the most expansive Gotham City ever shown on the big screen. Therefore, it is no surprise that the same universe will be coming soon to the small screen as well.
Director of two critically acclaimed installments of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Matt Reeves will collaborate with Terence Winter, writer/producer of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, on a spin-off show focusing on the Gotham City Police Department for new streaming service HBO Max (only available in the US as of now). Variety claims it will “build on the film’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City”, and is the first in a growing expanded Batman universe across multiple media platforms.
Inspired by the police-centric DC Comics title Gotham Central, the show could take a look at how exploring Gotham from the perspective of the GCPD shows they can tackle crime as uniquely as the Caped Crusader can.
The Gotham City Police Department is arguably the most corrupt and vile police department in fictional history. When detectives and officers aren’t working behind the scenes with A-list villains like Bane or Mr. Freeze, they’re upholding Gotham’s complex legal system that allows crime to pour out onto the streets. It makes rooting for the few ‘good cops’ in Batman comics, like Commissioner Jim Gordon and Detective Renee Montoya, all the easier. But that does not deny that the people they are working with are just as criminal as those they attempt to bring to ‘justice’.
Even darlings of Gotham law, like charming District Attorney Harvey Dent (later known as Two-Face), become villains under the watch of the GCPD. Harvey is definitely a character that should be explored either here or in the Batman trilogy as the most infamous personification of the failures of Gotham City.
It is still unclear whether Jeffrey Wright’s Commissioner Jim Gordon, who will appear in The Batman, will star in the spin-off show. However, his lead role as Bernard Lowe in HBO drama Westworld and significant TV background leads me to believe that he will appear in some capacity. The main focus in Gotham Central was always on an ensemble cast, not a particular individual, so making a long-form TV adaptation is all the more appropriate.
Terence Winter as a lead writer on the show is a great sign. His past work on The Sopranos and similar gang-focused dramas did not encourage you to root for either the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people because, at its heart, they were all truly as bad as each other. Where a Gotham City focused crime show will shine is in its depiction of a colourful cast of characters. We have never enjoyed seeing fictional criminals foil the police as much as we enjoy seeing the schemes of über-villains like Joker, Harley Quinn, or Poison Ivy. The adaptation of the famous cat-and-mouse games from Gotham Central writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, between the GCPD and Batman's Rogues Gallery, will definitely be a major draw in for viewers.
Reeves and Winter must shine a bat-signal on the reason why a billionaire orphan would ever take matters into his own hands.
Nevertheless, HBO Max does not have to demonise OR champion its assumptive protagonists. For a new streaming show focused on a controversial subject like corrupt police to work successfully, Reeves and Winter must shine a bat-signal on the reason why a billionaire orphan would ever take matters into his own hands – every other alternative has failed.