The tv show I’m currently most excited about seeing is Batman prequel, Gotham. The footage, trailers, images, casting and story-ideas I have heard all sound perfect for a show set in and around Gotham City when Bruce Wayne is just a boy and Commissioner Gordon is a rookie detective.
It seems like the show is shaping up to be something quite special but with anything like this, there are going to issues, temptations and mistakes that the creators could very easily make. These are things I do not want to see in the amazing looking show;
Too many hints, nods, winks and easter eggs
Everyone that watches will be familiar with the Batman mythology, origins and general idea of the superhero. There will be die-hard fans (like me) who will watch in excitement and soak in every detail. Unfortunately, this also means that there will be a huge temptation to throw pre-shadowed lines, little hints at what the audience know will be coming and tiny in-jokes to get a knowing, nod of appreciation.
These are fine in small doses but not one an episode and certainly make them clever and purposeful rather than moments like Alfred calling Bruce “a little Joker (“wink wink”, “hint hint”). Used in a clever or funny way, they can be amazing, thrown in at every opportunity, it can become boring and slightly insulting.
If you want an example of how this is done well, see Smallville’s early seasons. An example of how it’s done badly, see Smallville’s later episodes.
Messing with the backstory of characters dramatically
This is a prequel. That means its the origins of the characters we are really familiar with. This means that we will see the developing years of Bruce Wayne, what made Jim Gordon such a decent detective and how crime got so bad in Gotham that a man had to dress up as a Bat to fight it.
Of course there will be villains and characters we know. Edward Nigma (Riddler), Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin) and a young Selina Kyle (Catwoman) have all been announced and featured heavily in the trailers. These make some sense, particularly Catwoman and Penguin, but Edward Nigma wasn’t always a riddling master criminal and it is very tempting to bring events forward to suit the story.
The creators need to trust their characters and stories. Kyle shouldn’t dress as a cat, Nigma shouldn’t refer to himself as Riddler and under no circumstances should Bruce Wayne be anywhere near a bat, cape or mask.
In the same vein, I already have issues with the idea that Kyle and Wayne will know each other as kids or that well-known villains will begin so early. Smallville introduced Lois Lane way before Clark was Superman, don’t make the same mistake.
Rely too much on existing characters
Jada Pinkett-Smith is playing a character known as Fish Mooney and although the surname is familiar to comic fans, this feels like a relatively new character. This is the direction the show should go in. Introducing and relying on every well-known villain Batman has encountered means that the show will lose any originality and tie-itself in continuity knots. One or two a season, alongside the characters already announced, should see the season through, rather than a new recognisable villain every episode.
Also, no other superheroes! This isn’t Arrow!
As far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t exist until Batman does. He is the opposite to the hero, the reaction and result of what Batman does. You can’t give him an origin story and if you introduce him, you have to stick with him, messing with the backstory of the character and others – you don’t need him!
Overall, if the series sticks to these solid don’ts, there is hope for it. I loved Smallville, which started strongly and destroyed itself by changing its format and forgetting it was a prequel. Gotham looks better, darker, more realistic and less like a comic-orientated show so as long as it has its own identity, there should be little to worry about.