Batman’s origin story is a tale as old as comic book time.
A dark and depressing alley. The gunshots. The falling pearls from a broken necklace. A need to take down criminals and a fascination with bats.
Bruce Wayne’s journey to become Gotham City’s protector has been everywhere, from film to gaming to TV. But it was the series on FOX that has a special place in our hearts: Gotham.
Gotham ran for five seasons from 2014 to 2019. The show, which you can watch online via TV Fanatic, followed many iconic characters in Batman lore years before Bruce put on the mask.
You got the seriousness of The Dark Knight mixed in with some fun comic book campiness. It was a best of both worlds that left passionate Batman fans divided over which tone they wanted.
The great thing about Gotham is that it fully embraced the antics of Gotham City.
The city itself was a character. From its dark and grey aesthetic to the many overdramatic characters prone to crime, the infamous town never felt like a forgotten idea.
As a viewer, you get a real sense of this town’s corruption.
Gotham never tried to make the city feel bright and clean-cut like Smallville’s Metropolis or idyllic like Stargirl’s Blue Valley. Right from Gotham Season 1 Episode 1, the tone was clear that Gotham City was every bit the backdrop that needed a Batman.
Plus, we’re talking about DC’s comic book city, where villains took on names like The Penguin, The Riddler, and Mr. Freeze!
Speaking of those villains, Batman has one of (if not THE) best Rogues Gallery across all comics. Names like Catwoman, The Joker, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face are some legendary characters you know by name.
Gotham gave its supervillains the spotlight and room to steal the show!
For five seasons, we were hooked on these stories, like Penguin’s journey toward becoming a mob boss, Edward Nygma’s transformation into The Riddler, and the introduction of new villains like Fish Mooney.
And even when naming rights became an issue, Gotham still didn’t deprive us of The Joker’s story, starting on Gotham Season 1 Episode 16.
Gotham wasn’t only an origin story about Bruce Wayne/Batman or Commissioner Gordon at the GCPD, but about the villains who emerged from the darkness. And the nuances that gave them depth and character.
For example, one of the best new storylines out of Gotham was Commissioner Gordon’s (ex-) fiancée Barbara Kean, played by Erin Richards.
The character started as the typical love interest trope before transforming into a deadly supervillain.
And I do mean transform!
Starting with Gotham Season 2, Barbara let loose and embraced her villainy. She made many devilishly fun decisions in her pursuit to take over Gotham City, especially with Tigress and Selina Kyle’s Catwoman by her side.
And we can’t forget she was the first tease of “Harley Quinn” set in Gotham’s world. As a Harley Quinn fan, I loved this!
Even though her storyline differed from the comics, it allowed the show to explore something new. And compared to other villains, Gotham still kept their arcs closer to their archetypes, like Scarecrow or Carmine Falcone.
Barbara was having a great time. All the villains were having a blast!
When they were having fun, we were right there with them.
The heroes and anti-heroes were also great draws too! Gotham had a strong balance between the duality of good and evil.
As James Gordon, Ben McKenzie provided the noble and logical hero we could always rely on and trust. And his straight-laced, stern demeanor whenever he bantered with anyone gave us many unexpected laughs.
Like whether he was having a buddy cop moment with Harvey Bullock, getting his flirt on with Lee Thompkins (his real-life wife, Morena Baccarin), or one of the many villains at his door.
Throughout the five seasons, his story kept us hooked on whatever new danger popped up at the Gotham City Police Department.
When an entire city falls under its chaos, we need someone we can depend on. James Gordon was our guy.
And we can’t forget the main thread throughout Gotham: young Bruce Wayne’s turn to Batman.
One of the early concerns about Gotham was that Bruce was a young child, and it would be years before he would become Batman. The same goes for other villains and essential characters, like the equally young Selina Kyle (aka. Catwoman).
But Gotham easily and quickly squashed any of those concerns.
Bruce was a mainstay character throughout the five seasons. Sometimes, he played the part of the orphaned rich kid; other times, he grew into a secretive vigilante. Bruce never stood on the sidelines as a figurehead.
By the series finale on Gotham Season 5 Episode 12, Bruce’s growth into Batman felt natural and ready.
Sure, he didn’t have the Batmobile or any of the cool gadgets yet, but he made do with what he had. He started combat and could hold his own, especially against any shady organization or villain.
Plus, with allies like Alfred, Selina, and James Gordon by his side, Bruce’s storyline kept us coming back for more.
Gotham wasn’t a case of Bruce Wayne being overshadowed by the villains week-to-week. There was a method to the madness, and it worked well.
Gotham wasn’t the typical superhero origin story.
Granted, it didn’t follow DC Comics’ tale beat by beat. However, the TV series still honored that story’s legacy and had fun being its own thing.
We had rootable heroes and anti-heroes, action-packed fights, special effects, an alluring city, and lovable supervillains. What more could you ask for?
It was a Batman TV series unlike anything else. Gotham did that.
Now, over to you, Fanatics!
What was your favorite thing about Gotham? Which character or storyline did you love the most?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Gotham is available to stream now on Max.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.