Fox’s Gotham was first introduced as a police drama, a dark story examining the legendary comic book city’s criminal underworld with a young detective James Gordon as its central character. But the series quickly turned into a full blown origin series for a lot of characters related to the Batman mythos, from the rise of the Penguin as a crime boss to be feared and the introduction of many lesser known characters like Firefly and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The timeline from the comic books was quickly thrown out the window in order to create an alternate universe entirely.
The series has borrowed elements from Batman: The Animated Series, Batman ’66, every cinematic interpretation of Batman from Tim Burton to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and the comic books themselves to piece together a new and quite different version of Gotham City, one that is cartoonish, yet dark and frightening at the same time. However, when it comes to certain characters, it seems like the original source material was either used as a starting point, or disregarded completely. Today, CBR visits the dark alleys of Gotham and lists eight characters who were changed from the comics, and eight who were surprisingly accurately brought to life on the small screen.
16. CHANGED: PENGUIN
Depending on which version of the character you are more familiar with, whether it’s the Arkham video games Penguin, the cartoons or Danny DeVito’s brutal take on the character, Oswald Cobblepot is a short and sleazy character with quite the filthy presence. With accentuated features the make him look bird-like, the crime-lord fancies himself a bit of a womanizer. He may not always be on the winning side of things, but he is equally smart and self-serving.
In the Gotham series, Penguin does not have the usual physical attributes that make him recognizable, save for the way he dresses and his penchant for having an umbrella at his side. While the character is a crime-lord and has aspirations of control when it comes to the city of Gotham, he is far more emotional and much less calculating, an unpredictable presence just as likely to murder someone as to become infatuated with them.
15. ACCURATE: MR. FREEZE
Among Batman’s rogue’s gallery, Victor Fries is a more tragic figure, an unfortunate victim of tragic circumstances that turned him into the supervillain he now is. A brilliant scientist and expert in cryogenics, Victor had a terminally ill wife. Hoping to use his skills to find a cure for her, Victor only managed to become a victim of his own scientific research.
Forced to wear a specially designed suit that would allow him to keep his sub-zero temperatures, Mr. Freeze turned to a life of crime to try and find a cure for his wife. On Gotham, the character had the same goals and, while the lab accident was tweaked to become an attempt at suicide, Mr. Freeze was born nonetheless, with a special suit and a freeze-ray gun to match his comic book counterpart.
14. CHANGED: BARBARA KEAN
In the comic books, Barbara Kean Gordon doesn’t have much of a presence. While she is the mother of James Gordon’s two children, Barbara (aka Batgirl) and James, Jr., miss Kean divorced Jim and left Gotham — and her family — a long time ago. But when it comes to the Gotham series, the creators of the series took some heavy liberties to make her a compelling but totally different character.
In the show’s universe, Barbara went from respected lawyer to crazed psychopath in the span of a single season to become one of Gotham‘s most deranged and dangerous characters. Working alongside any villain she sees fit, it’s even been hinted at that Barbara could be some proto-version of Harley Quinn. With the state of her sanity a foregone conclusion, it seems impossible that James will eventually come to have two children with this villain.
13. ACCURATE: ALFRED
Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne’s caretaker. He is his legal guardian and his butler and a surrogate father whenever the young lad needs one. But even more than that, he is also a trusted adviser and an instrumental part of Batman’s mission; an accomplice and inspiration, the voice of reason at times when there is little to be found in the vigilante.
All of these characteristics are there in Gotham‘s version of Alfred. The age difference is there, and Alfred isn’t afraid to speak his mind, throw a punch and even fire a gun when it comes down to it. Stubborn and witty, Pennyworth is a British intelligence veteran both in the comics and the television series, something that makes him a valuable asset and partner to the Batman, and more than an efficient guardian to a young Bruce Wayne.
12. CHANGED: SOLOMON GRUNDY
In the comic books, Solomon Grundy was a 19th century Gothamite gentleman, although one who wasn’t held in the highest of regards by his fellow citizens. The man who would be Grundy came to die at the bottom of Slaughter Swamp, just outside of Gotham City, and was resurrected many years later as a hellish creature; gigantic and grey, monstrous and undead.
That origin seems to be quite different from that of Gotham. Actually, although we didn’t know it at the time, the character was a part of the show since its very first episode as Butch Gilzean, one of Fish Mooney’s criminal enforcers. Butch has since gone on to work for the Penguin, then became a crime lord in his own right and he lost a hand, one he likes to replace with very sharp objects. It was only in the season three finale that we came to learn that his real name was Cyrus Gold, Grundy’s real name.
11. ACCURATE: POISON IVY
Although she was introduced as a very young Ivy Pepper in the first two seasons of Gotham, the character went through a very literal change that proceeded to age her dramatically into adulthood in the show’s third season. While none of the sort happened in the source material, it would appear this change was for the better, as Ivy became much more in line with her comic book counterpart.
On Gotham, Ivy is fascinated by plant life like no other. She is a seductress and she uses a specially designed perfume to control others (instead of a pheromone-based kiss). While she may not be green (yet) and in full control of her plants, the essence of the character is still preserved. She is a villain with a green side and she will align herself with anyone who respects her and what she cares for.
10. CHANGED: DR. LESLIE THOMPKINS
Although there have been quite a few different version of Doctor Leslie Thompkins in the comic books, from the pre-52 continuity to the New 52 and Rebirth, she is always depicted as the same type of character: a good woman who only wishes to help others. As a doctor, Leslie often has a clinic set up in the rougher neighborhood of Gotham to help the less fortunate, she’s an ally of Batman and she has had the odd romantic spark with Bruce’s butler Alfred.
On Gotham, Leslie “Lee” Thompkins is still a doctor, albeit one who started work at Arkham Asylum and who fell in love with James Gordon. After a tumultuous relationship, she found herself engaged to another man. But after this man came to die at the hands of Gordon, Lee became poisoned against Jim, figuratively and literally, and she ended up leaving the city, seemingly for good.
9. ACCURATE: BULLOCK
Detective Harvey Bullock is the very blunt rock of Gotham City’s police department. He’s the regular Joe, the cynical outside character who has nothing to do with superheroes but everything to do with supervillains. He’s always there, trying to help out as best he can whenever the city is under attack. Ultimately, he knows there isn’t much he can do, and he will say as much while trying to help out anyway.
Bullock’s defining traits are all there when it comes to Gotham. He’s grumpy and he has seen it all. He knows his city, and he knows that whatever is happening is completely ridiculous. He may have lost faith in himself and in others, but he still tries to do what’s right as long as there are good men like Jim Gordon and the Batman out there to fight the good fight. Television or comics, that’s Bullock through and through.
8. CHANGED: ZSASZ
In the comic books, Victor Zsasz is a deranged serial killer who works alone. Creeping from the shadows, he is a dangerous figure in Gotham’s criminal world, but he is not a character out for power or associated with crime lords. He marks his body with every new victim he adds to his list and he is definitely up there as one of the more unsettling villains in Batman’s rogues’ gallery.
But when it comes to Gotham, Zsasz is quite different. While he still cuts a tally mark on his body for his victims, he is introduced as a hitman for crime lord Carmine Falcone. Surprisingly athletic, favoring guns instead of knives and frequently accompanied by his very own team of killers, Zsasz is Gotham City’s foremost contract killer.
7. ACCURATE: HUGO STRANGE
Hugo Strange is a brilliant and devious psychiatrist, an evil mastermind who was able to deduce Batman’s secret identity in the comic books, when all of his other villains couldn’t. When it comes to the television show, Hugo Strange arrived on the scene as a psychiatrist and director of Arkham Asylum. However, he had some pretty nefarious plans underneath is deceiving persona.
Strange was introduced on Gotham as a bit of a mad scientist, a monster in his own right who spends his time collecting and creating monsters of his own and looking to bring the dead back to life. He is manipulative and secretive and he uses others to get what he needs to conduct his experiments. Equally dangerous and deceptive, the essence of the character is very well preserved in the television show, down to his iconic facial hair and glasses.
6. CHANGED: THE MAD HATTER
Jervis Tetch is another unsettling and enduring character in Batman’s rogues’ gallery, a small man who has a dangerous fixation of Lewis Carroll’s seminal book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Although he is certifiably insane, he is also a brilliant scientist able to create a countless number of hats that can help him control the minds of others.
But when he was introduced in the third season of Gotham, the Mad Hatter was different. Instead of being a skilled scientist, he is a master of hypnotism, needing nothing but a watch to control the minds of anyone he sets his sights on. He also has a sister named Alice and his goal is to create a virus out of her poisoned blood — a virus that could turn every Gotham citizen crazed and dangerous, a very different kind of mind control.
5. ACCURATE: SELINA KYLE
A part of the show ever since its beginning, Selina Kyle was already established as a smart kid living in the streets of Gotham City. She quickly proved her strength of character by showing that although the city itself is a dark place, she still tried to remain true to who and what she was. She is not a villain, but she is not a hero either. She dances across the line as she sees fit, just as Selina does in the comics.
Moving with cat-like agility, Selina quickly lived up to her surname by demonstrating a penchant for breaking, entering and stealing. Just as Bruce Wayne grows closer to his Batman persona, we are seeing an evolution in the character of Selina as we near a more finite version of Catwoman. It seems that, next season, she will become handy with a whip. Could a costume be next?
4. CHANGED: JAMES GORDON
As the police commissioner of Gotham City, James Gordon is one of the most respected and recognized figures of authority in Gotham City, both by the public and the villains who plague the city. Unwavering and unequivocally a good man, Gordon unknowingly showed Batman that he could be counted on, in a city that chews at everyone it can sink its teeth into.
However, on Gotham, Gordon is a far cry from the character he is destined to become. He is a police officer, sure, but he has shown a wavering moral compass and has not hesitated to cross the line whenever it suits his needs. He has quite a temper and although he wishes to be a good man, he has proven time and again that he can’t be counted on, which would make him difficult to elicit the attention of a bat-clad vigilante seeking the righteous.
3. ACCURATE: THE RIDDLER
Edward Nygma started off in the series as the GCPD’s expert medical examiner. While this is a departure from the comics books, the character’s quirks and fascination with riddles were established early on. Nygma may have started on the side of good, with a few inclinations towards the awkward and bordering on the anti-social, but that quickly devolved into outright villainy.
Soon, Edward was weaving traps in the city with clues and riddles to either hurt people or to wrongfully implicate Gordon in a crime. With a smile on his face, Edward is both murderous and genius; he even went so far as donning a green suit and a bowler hat as he further embraced his descent into villainy. This is as close to an accurate Riddler as we can get on Gotham, before the inevitable arrival of the Batman.
2. CHANGED: BRUCE WAYNE
After losing his parents at a young age, Bruce Wayne spent a long time haunted by his loss. It wasn’t until years later, however, that he would travel to various countries, training and gathering knowledge from all corners of the world so that he could return to his home of Gotham City and become the Batman, a vigilante fighting the criminal and the cowardly lot.
But it seems like the Gotham television show put Bruce’s evolution and career as a superhero on the fast track. Instead, we have a Bruce who decided to train almost as soon as his parents were killed, choosing to focus his rage and desperation on something. Now, in the closing moments of season three, Bruce Wayne is ready to start taking his crime-fighting to the streets, with a trench coat and a mask, without ever having left the city limits.
1. ACCURATE: JOKER (JEROME)
We’ll get this out of the way right now: there is no actual confirmation that Jerome was/is the Joker on Gotham. But bearing in mind the way the character was introduced and built up, from the laughs to the manic persona, and considering everything he has done and gone through – like a face-lifting procedure – it’s likely that he is very much the show’s version of the Joker.
There may be a lot of differences between comic book Joker and Jerome, but the essence of the character is all there. Cameron Monaghan’s amazing portrayal of the character borrowed elements from all versions of the Joker, from Batman: TAS to The Dark Knight to create the perfect blend of frightening, over-the-top and grounded. This is a new Joker for a new universe, yet one that remains perfectly true to who and what the character is supposed to be.
Which character would you like to see brought to life on Gotham? Let us know in the comments!
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