Gird your loins, geeks! Fox is gearing up for a fresh take on a Batman prequel that will air this fall. It’s not a teenage Batman or a serial version of “Batman: Year One.” It’s a Commissioner Gordon origin tale that also reveals how your favorite Batman villains got their start. It’s such a genius take, and it feels like it will be the right blend of comic book action and grit, but with a sense of humor and madness so popular with the Batman comics.
“The O.C.” alum Ben McKenzie plays a pretty young Gordon. The series begins with Bruce Wayne just losing his parents. There’s bound to be Batman references, but it’s nice that the series focuses on some of the lesser-explored characters from the franchise. Gordon is such a fundamental character, but we rarely get to see his connection to the newly orphaned Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Clearly, Gordon will form a bond with the young Bruce. But we also get to see more of Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) and how he raised Bruce. That’s another fact that’s really fascinating. Various versions of Alfred give him martial skills and before Bruce heads to train to become Batman, he had to be a warped, vengeance-filled little kid.
McKenzie proved he can play a cop in “Southland.” It will be nice to see Jim Gordon as more than just part of the Batman entourage. Instead, you really get to see him as the last clean cop. His partner is Harvey Bullock, most memorable for being the gravely voiced guy with the cigarette in the popular “Batman: The Animated Series.” It’s also nice that it will be played by comedy actor and “Sons of Anarchy” star Donal Logue. As with DC’s multiple dimensions, it’s unclear the exact direction for Bullock, but it is clear he’ll be a little corrupt and dirty.
The other main focus is the villains. It’s cool to imagine a procedural crime drama with early versions of Gotham City villains. There’s a teenage Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), who will probably have a bit of a “Dark Angel” cat-burglar vibe. The show also chooses one of the most random Batman villains to be a series regular. Robin Lord Taylor plays Oswald Cobblepot, who will inevitably go from creepy crime boss to bird-obsessed umbrella enthusiast. The show is also making a bold casting choice with Questionable Mother of the Year Jada Pinkett-Smith. Not since Pussy Galore has there been a character with such a loaded name: Fish Mooney. A scantily clad crime boss named Fish Mooney?!? Do with that what you will. But in Pinkett’s defense, she’s a very underrated and underutilized actress. She was the best part of “The Matrix” sequels.
The series is so great because it’s so ripe for interpretation. Like with “Smallville,” there will inevitably be the tension to want to see Batman. However, with Bruce Wayne being a child, that whole idea is neutralized unless the show lasts for 10-15 years. But, there is a whole mess of budding villains that can be introduced, developed and inevitably integrated into the show.
After the Christopher Nolan movies, the franchise could use a bit of fun. This series will clearly not be as dark, and there might be room for a bit of fun. If it even approaches Joel Schumacher-level camp, it will be canceled in a heartbeat. But Batman has crazy villains with strange predilections, and it’s a rich dude with a mask. Hopefully, it integrates a sense of humor because if not, a character named Fish Mooney is ripe for a video game.
The show hasn’t revealed too much, but it is bound to be a major premiere. Television viewers’ complex relationship with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the long run of “Smallville” have shown there is a market for comic book-related TV. Also, Batman has been through so many fresh cartoon iterations a live action series was inevitable. Good luck, “Gotham!” We’ll be waiting!
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.