Gotham has been on the air for three seasons with the fourth ongoing at the moment, and in their time they’ve brought us some classic Batman characters. Some of them are ones we’ve seen in live action before, and others have either only been in the animated shows or in video games. It’s quite impressive that we’ve been shown some of the characters that we have given that the DCEU has been gearing up for more Batman films in the near future. Some of the performances in Gotham have actually been incredible, almost character defining in some cases. Can you picture someone else playing Harvey Bullock after Donal Logue? We can’t, he slots in perfectly in that role.
But it’s not all good. There’s some huge flaws with the show, some of the writing isn’t great -- with many early episodes being quite derivative of other television police procedurals. Combine that with some poor acting behind various characters, and it can be quite off-putting. It’s like the show can’t decide which tone to take. Some actors are cheesy whilst others are deadly serious. There are some well-founded reasons for disliking the show, but there are some gems in there too.
15 PERFECTLY CAST: JAMES GORDON
We’ve seen various live action versions of James Gordon, each of them fitting the tone of the Batman they accompany. Gary Oldman brought a grizzled version of Gordon rising through the ranks during The Dark Knight trilogy, and JK Simmons briefly showed an aging Commissioner who came across like a military commander rather than a member of the GCPD, but that’s a good thing.
In Gotham, Ben McKenzie feels like he could be an amalgam of both Gary Oldman and JK Simmons’ versions, but still carves his own path for the role.
We see the methods in which he wages war against crime and corruption, but the show pushes into the dark side of the policeman. We see the struggle faces going up against an endless wave of crime, but McKenzie’s performance helps the audience understand how and why he becomes disenchanted with the justice system.
14 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: HARVEY DENT
Two-Face is one of Batman’s most iconic villains. He’s been part of some incredible storylines in the comics. The character development and relationship between the hero and villain during All-Star Batman in DC Rebirth shows Two-Face’s true potential. He’s not just a mobster, he’s an incredibly smart man with intricate knowledge of the justice system.
But the performance from Nicholas D’Agosto (albeit before Harvey’s scarred transformation) feels incredibly weak. When he ‘unleashes’ the angry side of Harvey, his voice sounds filled with rage but his face comes across blank. There’s no real sense of danger with the character, he doesn’t seem like a man ready to pull the trigger at any moment. We just don’t believe that this Dent has the potential to turn villainous.
13 PERFECTLY CAST: PROFESSOR PYG
Say what you like about Batman’s long list of villains and the various animal named identities, but Professor Pyg is one of the creepiest. And Michael Cerveris brings the terrifying serial killer to Gotham during season four. And although Lazlo Valentin isn’t quite comics accurate, he manages to bring a terrifying nature of suspense to the show.
If the serial killer film Se7en, by David Fincher, took place in the DC Universe -- that’s how Pyg comes across. We’re not saying that Gotham is a perfect show, it has severe flaws in the plot and some of the characters, but they boldly went in the direction of a gritty serial killer with no powers but a taste for torture and mutilation. Michael Cerveris is undoubtedly unnerving, so here’s hoping for a comic book-style return sometime soon.
12 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: SOLOMON GRUNDY
Butch Gilzean was his own fully fledged character that had been developed right from the first season of Gotham. He’d grown from idiot enforcer to a near major player of the series. Once he teamed up with Tabitha, his character development deepened, and audiences actually cared about him. But once it seemed obvious the show didn’t know what to do with him, they revealed he was actually Cyrus Gold, aka Solomon Grundy.
Drew Powell as Grundy feels cheap. He’s a large man, but on Gotham he lumbers around without actually being any kind of supernatural threat. All he has going for him is his strength. Powell’s acting abilities are wasted here, because he has no emotion to Grundy, just vacant staring and blank delivery of his lines. Gotham should have either recast for Solomon Grundy or not even bothered.
11 PERFECTLY CAST: VICTOR ZSASZ
The last time we saw Victor Zsasz in live action was during Batman Begins, and his appearance was fleeting. But thanks to Gotham, we’ve been given a look at the early version of Victor before he truly becomes the serial killer we all know.
Anthony Carrigan plays Zsasz with a quiet flair that actually becomes humorous on various occasions.
We haven’t really seen him begin an obsession with marking his kills on himself just yet, as he mainly favors guns on the show as a hitman/enforcer. But the eerie atmosphere Carrigan brings with him is genuinely quite haunting. Hopefully if the show continues for long enough, we’ll see Zsasz become closer to the character in the comics, because he’s not that far from it right now.
10 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: SCARECROW
The Scarecrow is a fantastically terrifying character, he taps into what scares our heroes the most and makes them vulnerable to a whole manner of other threats by doing so. Cillian Murphy brought Doctor Crane to life during The Dark Knight trilogy, and he nailed the unhinged nature of the villain but in a real-world way.
Charlie Tahan’s version of Crane is a poor imitation of Scarecrow. Now don’t get us wrong, visually he looks creepy. But his acting is appalling. He plays a naïve, sniveling teenager to begin with, and then speaks in generic supervillain dialogue in his return during season four. There’s nothing compelling by Tahan’s performance, there’s simply no reason to care about him like we do other villains. If we had seen his journey properly from teenager to a villain then maybe his acting could be justified. But we didn’t, so we can’t.
9 PERFECTLY CAST: DETECTIVE BULLOCK
Up until Gotham, we’d only seen animated versions of Bullock brought to the screen in various animated television shows and films. But Gotham gave us a Detective Bullock who acts as the ‘everyman’ of the series. He frequently reacts how the audience does to certain events, lines and characters in a comedic way. Donal Logue has a deep sense of sarcasm that actually makes for a good fit with Ben McKenzie’s stoic James Gordon.
The fact that he’s sometimes morally ambiguous just makes for better entertainment across the series. In season four he’s shown to be on The Penguin’s payroll as part of his ‘Pax Penguina’. Logue’s take on the character gives him a level of depth that we didn’t see too often on the animated series, and the way he constantly grapples with his morality makes for a fantastic performance.
8 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: POISON IVY
Gotham’s treatment of Poison Ivy has been quite poor since the very start. She was originally a little girl (played by Clare Foley), but after coming up against Fish Mooney and her gang of supervillains -- she’s aged by one of the Indian Hill inmates. From there she’s now a young woman in her 20s.
But there’s no specific arc for Ivy. The show bounces her personality across in different directions depending what the overarching story needs her to do. Sometimes she’s timid and reserved, but then in another episode she’s using her sexuality to exploit rich men and steal from them. They’ve recast the role again in season four, let’s hope they manage to stick to a definitive version of Ivy. Otherwise, it’s a disservice to the character.
7 PERFECTLY CAST: HUGO STRANGE
We haven’t seen a live action adaptation of Hugo Strange until Gotham brought B.D. Wong onto the show as the classic villain. He fills the ‘mad scientist’ role in giving the Indian Hill inmates their powers. But because Gotham walks the fine line between silly comic book themes and gritty adaptation, Hugo Strange also has to toe the line.
And B.D. Wong really has fun with this role. He chews every single scene he’s involved in, taking his time with each specific word as he delivers a line. He’s not the most intimidating villain, but his brain and the machinations he comes up with are scarier. His human experimentation is tame enough for television, but some of the body-horror elements to characters like Clayface really show how twisted Strange actually is.
6 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: RA’S AL GHUL
To put it bluntly, Ra’s Al Ghul is one of the most notorious villains that Batman has faced, besides The Joker. His use of the Lazarus Pit means that he’s one of the most formidable and long lasting foes to plague the Dark Knight. He’s a genius mastermind, who has a horde of assassins at his disposal as well as being a master martial artist himself.
It’s just a shame that they squander this legendary figure in the DC Universe with a bland performance from Alexander Siddig.
His purpose on the show is to stroll around Bruce and taunt him. It’s a bland take on the character that offers nothing new on the other live action performances we’ve seen before. It could have been a truly captivating performance, but the delivery of Siddig’s lines are barely entertaining.
5 PERFECTLY CAST: THE RIDDLER
There’s been numerous adaptations of The Riddler over the years, some incredibly camp and others light hearted. But Gotham took a much darker twist on the intellectual villain, birthing him from a timid GCPD Forensic Scientist with a separate personality that brings The Riddler to life.
Cory Michael Smith takes every single moment he has on-screen and takes the chance to captivate the audience. His style of acting is near Shakespearean, with the troubled mastermind slowly turning into a villain that the audience still has a warped way of rooting for him. His slow evolution into the villain has been great to see as he crafts his own unique place in the Gotham underworld. Plus, he’s already in costume with his green suit, the only thing he’s missing is a purple mask -- but we’re not complaining.
4 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: THE PENGUIN
Penguin is another animal-named villain that has been around for decades, but Oswald Cobblepot was arguably made famous by Danny DeVito in his creepy portrayal during Batman Returns. His unique style and look made audiences cringe every time he was on-screen because of DeVito’s performance (in a good way!). But does Robin Lord Taylor inspire that level of intimidation?
Not at all. The Penguin should come across as a competent mastermind -- or at least a troublesome villain that can truly cause Gotham trouble. But The Penguin on Gotham constantly acts like a spoilt child who doesn’t get his own way. He stomps his foot and moans when he gets angry. He’s easily one of the most annoying characters on the show, partly because he barely does any of the hard work himself. He’s an irritating member of the cast.
3 PERFECTLY CAST: CATWOMAN
It was a very good idea to bring Catwoman into the origin story for Bruce Wayne. It means more knowing how their relationship progresses in the future (or at least in the current comics) after they have so many shared experiences together as teenagers and young adults.
But it also allows us to get to know Catwoman like we never have before in live action, as a young woman finding her footing as a professional criminal in Gotham’s underworld. Camren Bicondova brings Selina to life perfectly. She has a cold exterior that she’s had to build up over years of fending for herself on the streets -- but once that armor is worn down, she does have a softer side. Not unlike a certain Bruce Wayne. The two seem to dance fleetingly before breaking away, and it’s a great prelude to their costumed relationship together.
2 NEEDS TO BE RECAST: BRUCE WAYNE
Okay, so this one could be slightly controversial, but hear us out. David Mazouz for the large part has done a good job portraying a young Bruce Wayne. But now that Gotham is pushing forward into the time where he’s beginning to don a costume, it’s time for a slightly older actor to take the role.
It seems utterly bizarre seeing Mazouz getting drunk and waking up in bed with girls, when only few years ago he was a child in the alley.
A time jump bringing in an older actor to play Bruce would allow Gotham to push forward into the Batman mythology whilst being more believable. Because at the moment Bruce doesn’t even seem 21 and he’s getting drunk all the time, does he even go to school or college? It’s time for a new Bruce.
1 PERFECTLY CAST: ALFRED
One actor who consistently gives an excellent performance throughout Gotham, is Sean Pertwee. This younger version of Alfred Pennyworth is a force to be reckoned with, and he’s fantastic to watch. This is an Alfred that’s had extensive military training and still keeps in good shape, he’s nearly a vigilante in his own right during some episodes.
This isn’t the mild mannered butler that we usually expect during a Batman story. Instead, Alfred is a mentor that teaches Bruce the ways of the world and helping to arm the boy for his inevitable war on crime when the time comes. Every single episode Pertwee gives the audience a heartfelt performance, because he’s so dedicated to the Wayne legacy. The fatherly relationship between Alfred and Bruce has been fantastic to see evolve over time.