Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

What DC lacks at the box office they seem to make up for with some really well done and well-crafted primetime series. I love Gordon. He’s easily my favorite character in the Batman universe.

Still, when I heard that they were making Gotham--a kind of follow-up to Smallville it sounds like, a bit of a retelling of a superhero origin with the focus on the place that they’re from--I was a little skeptical. It's really seemed to me that Christopher Nolan has been a gift to Batman fans. What other story is there to tell, really, outside of the trilogy of films that he made?

But the trailer makes me eat my words.

One of the strangest and most surreal underlying themes in Batman is the idea that there’s something strange and off about the city that he lives in. It’s eerie and it’s as if the city itself is a character in the Batman comics. There’s something bad in Gotham. It brings out the worst in people. People do things here that they wouldn’t normally do elsewhere. Arkham Asylum seemed to really capitalize on this, again emphasizing that there’s something about the places that Batman dares to tread rather than the people themselves that seems evil.

I also like that this isn’t necessarily explicit, either. I mean yes there have been a few stories that hint at some strange, demonic underpinnings of Gotham’s foundation. But it’s not like Dr. Fate is running around Gotham talking about mystic incantations and how they’re affecting people. It’s like everyone in Gotham feels it. It’s just in the air. It’s dirty. It’s thick. Despite this? Batman won’t leave. Even when his city is on the brink of destruction he won’t leave.

It’s as if Batman battles for the very soul of the people of the city that he lives in. It’s more than him just punishing the unjust. It’s like Batman tries to inspire law and order in a place where for some reason those things always seem to crumble and fall apart. If Batman quit, it’d be like he would be giving up on the idea that there’s something about people who want to do better than just succumb to their worst impulses.

And all of this is subtext. Not dialogue or narration.

I think Gotham could be a great show if it really set the stage this way. That this is about more than just Batman. This is about the city and the choices people make there. It could be more than just a very long-winded season after season look at Batman growing up. It could give you a greater sense of just what it is that Batman is fighting for, in that truly spiritual sense. That’s a show I’d watch. I would like to see a little more Arrow and a little less Smallville in it. But I’m cautiously hopeful that it could be more than just an easy attempt to milk more out of the Batman franchise.


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