Gotham is a bit of a mixed bag. On paper, the show sounded interesting: follow the early days of Jim Gordon before the Batman ever started appearing. As such, you would expect that the criminal underground and political issues would take center stage, right? Instead, Gotham has brought in several classic Batman characters and villains and (continuity be darned) allowed them special time on the show. As such, the show features different takes on popular characters. Some are for the better, like Robin Lord Taylor’s eccentric portrayal of the Penguin. To be fair to the show, it’s not horrible. If anything, it has to be credited for being willing to try something different with material that’s been around for decades.
That having been said, there are a lot of characters that don’t benefit from the universe of Gotham. Because the show is intent on using so many heroes and villains and bringing them to a low-budget production, there are naturally going to be many that simply don’t fit with the vision of the show. The fans might burn us down for this, but we’ve put together a list of 15 classic Batman characters that have been ruined or butchered by the Gotham TV show.
15. MR. FREEZE
From one still image, it’s clear to see why Mr. Freeze made this list. His design looks a lot like Captain Cold from The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. His design has improved over time, but some of us still aren’t on board with this new take for multiple reasons. The biggest issue is that Nora Fries dies as opposed to getting sick and being frozen. Victor tries to commit suicide and fails as a result.
After that, he turns into a criminal and becomes a mercenary figure. The problem here is that there’s no perpetual motivation for Victor to behave this way, and him turning into an ice-based villain doesn’t contextually fit in the end. Nora tied the character together but in Gotham, her absence tears him apart.
14. THE RIDDLER
Riddle me this: what’s green and red all over? The Riddler after Batman gets to him. Gotham City’s most intelligent villain is Edward Nygma. Having a superiority complex, he is obsessed with proving his dominance over everyone else in the world: particularly the Dark Knight. He does this by creating elaborate traps and questions for our hero to solve.
How does this translate to Gotham? Not well. Nygma starts as an operative for the GCPD who merely asks all kinds of random questions that serves as the least-subtle hinting known to television. The problem here is that the character feels like he only has the surface-level quirks and none of the more captivating traits. He’s just a villain who asks silly questions and that’s it.
13. JIM GORDON
The protagonist of Gotham is Commissioner Gordon as a fairly rookie detective. As with the rest of Gotham, focusing on a pre-Batman Jim Gordon seems like an interesting idea on paper. However, there’s never anything done with his inclusion that justifies having him there. You could replace Gordon with anyone else and the show wouldn’t change at all.
In the show, Gordon doesn’t any defining traits. He’s simply a stereotypical goodie cop who wants to see justice done in the right way. Being in stark contrast to the much better portrayed Harvey Bullock, it seems like there’d be more material for the show to work with. However, Gotham is so focused on bringing in all sorts of familiar Batman characters that he gets left by the wayside.
Alfred’s gone through a few different changes in DC Comics. Where he started out as a standard butler assistant, he later became a supportive father figure and even an ex-military soldier. Needless to say, there were a lot of routes that Gotham could take when it came to Bruce Wayne’s butler.
That said, Gotham brings a strange take on the character. This Alfred is brutal and rough from start to finish. He’s not the loving father figure that Bruce Wayne needs, but instead a powerful authoritarian caretaker. There was even a part where he slapped Selina Kyle in the face — who is only a young teenager at the time. Yeah, Alfred has even been reduced to child abuse in the show.
When Jerome was introduced into Gotham, the big question was: is he The Joker? After all, he shares a lot of similarities with the Jester of Genocide and even some of the personality quirks. He even has this odd relationship with Barbara Kean that is reminiscent of The Joker/Harley Quinn dynamic.
Jerome on his own is fine enough, but in the context of Gotham, we can’t be fully on board. He is simply an excuse for the writers to use The Joker without actually having to use The Joker. This approach just feels wrong, as Jerome constantly has Joker-like behavior but without the name attached. It feels lazy and irreverent to the Batman mythos. If they’re going to do The Joker, then they need to buckle down and do it and not give the audience the old runaround.
In terms of monstrous foes, Batman has his fair share. One of them is Clayface, the washed-up actor named Basil Karlo. Karlo was a brilliant actor, but after getting poor job after job, he ended up in an accident that caused him to become a monster made entirely of clay. From that point on, he was a mud monster of sorts who could transform into any being that he imagined.
In Gotham, Clayface is a lot less believable. He is simply a lab rat for Hugo Strange and that’s it. Gone is his more interesting backstory and in its place is the most boring tale on the market. What makes it worse is that he probably should’ve been an actor because his facade as Jim Gordon lasts for a few moments at best.
9. AZRAEL AND THE ORDER OF ST. DUMAS
The Crusades were dark times for the world. Christians were taking up arms and fighting against the country in a series of horrible and bloody battles. That’s the origin of the Order of St. Dumas. Believing themselves to be more pious than the rest of the world, they will go to unnatural extremes to “save” the rest of the world. One of their methods was creating and brainwashing their own vigilante/knight: Azrael.
Unfortunately, the Order doesn’t hold the same sort of significance or impact in Gotham. They might’ve been better served as primary antagonists, but that’s not how the show handled it. Furthermore, Azrael didn’t look nearly as cool as he does in the comics, and was just as underserved as the Order he came from.
8. COURT OF OWLS
The Court of Owls was one of the most fascinating organizations in the New 52. Having historical roots that go back hundreds of years, nobody knew why they were fighting Gotham City in the present or what their endgame was. As you can imagine, their war with the Dark Knight proved to be a powerful one, featuring all kinds of insane challenges.
Without the foil of Batman to stop them, the Court of Owls isn’t nearly as interesting. Furthermore, there are several parts of their organization that are left out in Gotham. The worst part of their portrayal is their design. The Court continues the trend of taking classic Batman characters and giving them an appearance that you could emulate by going to Party City.
7. BARBARA GORDON
Jim Gordon’s first wife in the comics was Barbara Kean (later known as Barbara Gordon, not to be confused with his daughter of the same name who, as you all know, when on to become Batgirl). Barbara was little more than the wife of a police detective, but she served as a means of bringing Jim back to reality when he was out talking to the Batman.
Unfortunately, Barbara Gordon is significantly different in Gotham, and for the worse. She started out as a fairly annoying counter to Jim’s upright attitude. She eventually went psychotic and became a pseudo-Harley Quinn of sorts. This move felt out of left field for the character and doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. We’ll give the writers points for originality, though.
6. POISON IVY
In terms of changing a character’s appearance, never do it the way that Gotham handled Poison Ivy. She started out in the show as a little girl named Ivy Pepper (weird, but we’ll go with it). After that, the writers ex-machina’d a way for her to rapidly age so that she could quickly transform into the Poison Ivy that we all remember.
However, the show never decides what it wants to do with the character. She’s helped out villains and been a strange loner, but that’s as far as it got. What makes things worse is that she underwent a legitimate transformation that was just the writer’s making an in-universe excuse for changing the actress that plays her yet again. Just as an interesting tidbit of info, the actress playing her also played Golden Glider on The Flash.
There are several Batman villains that arguably shouldn’t be in Gotham due to the timeline as we know it. However, one character that has every right to be there is Falcone. One of Gotham City’s most notorious crime lords, seeing a younger version of him as he tries to take over the city is something that the show has been proud to include. Unfortunately, they don’t handle his character as well as the comics.
Falcone has some unique quirks about him in the comics (he even had a bit of a personality in The Dark Knight). In Gotham, he’s not quite as interesting. He’s a generic aging crime lord who is smack dab in the middle of a coup with Fish Mooney. Considering that Falcone had a lot of room for alterations, it’s sad that the writers didn’t capitalize on it like they could have.
The insanity of Firefly has been explored a few times in Batman history and, while he’s never been a particularly compelling character, there was something to be feared with his appearance and continuous arson. Firefly is dangerous and consuming, just like the fire that he shoots out of his flamethrower. He acts of his own volition and only goes where the wind takes him.
As far as Gotham is concerned, Firefly is little more than a lackey who is never given any time to shine on the small screen. The writers tried by having Firefly be connected to Selina Kyle, but it’s not long before she (yes, we said “she”) ends up in Hugo Strange’s hands and becomes a glorified henchman. That being said, the design is halfway decent.
Talon’s relation to the Court of Owls is just as exciting to watch as Batman’s. While he starts out as nothing more than an assassin for the organization, he starts to gain some personal autonomy. Eventually leaving the Court, he still has a conflict with the Dark Knight on top of it, providing a thought-provoking insight to how villain’s minds work.
In Gotham, Talon is once again the brutal assassin for the Court, but that’s as far as his character ever goes. He fights with Alfred and shows off his muscles, but nothing is ever done with him. Furthermore, as with most characters on the show, his design is downright inexcusable, being nothing more than a guy in a masquerade mask. If you’re looking for a budget Halloween costume, you might want to give him a try.
2. RED HOOD GANG
The Red Hood Gang is extremely integral to the history of The Joker in the New 52. They helped create the environment that turned him into the Clown Prince of Crime in the first place. They paraded around Gotham with no real intent other than getting more profit for themselves, but they were a truly intimidating force to be reckoned with and their history is one that only true Batman fans will appreciate.
In Gotham, the Gang doesn’t have the same presence that they did in the comics. Furthermore, their costumes are a lot less interesting this time around. Being little more than red masks we could make ourselves with a pair of scissors, to think that these guys caused so many problems for Gotham City is laughable.
1. BRUCE WAYNE
Bruce Wayne as a young boy has never been explored in great detail. Apart from his origin and his parents’ death, not many stories have focused on how he coped for years. Gotham intended to bridge that gap and show us how he was affected by witnessing that horrible tragedy. Sounds like the template for brilliant TV and storytelling, right?
Unfortunately, Gotham doesn’t capitalize on this to its fullest potential. Bruce Wayne has been operating season to season, going through different arcs and struggles that seem really out of place when put together. It feels narratively inconsistent at best. What’s worse is that it feels canonically incorrect, as he’s already donning an early version of the batsuit as a teenager.
Which of these characters did Gotham ruin the most? Let us know in the comments!
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