The Fox series Gotham has had people engrossed in all things DC and Batman since it first aired in 2014. The writers for the show have taken great liberties with the story lines of the DC Universe, which can cause quite a stir within the more devoted fans of the franchise. They’ve been going strong for four seasons and over 90 episodes, so the folks at Fox must be doing something right. Gotham brings us suspense, surprise, humor, drama, and an opportunity to see a vast amount of DC characters in a live action platform. There is a lot to love about the show and kudos are due to all those involved — from the brilliant acting, to the beautiful costume designs, to the thought put into set building, and more.
There is also a lot about Gotham’s portrayal of its iconic characters that gets some people’s feathers ruffled. Non-traditional relationships that were never seen before between characters, extreme alterations in timelines and character backstories — all of these issues threw many serious DC fans for a loop. We may argue among ourselves about what Gotham should or shouldn’t be doing, but there are some events in the show so twisted that we can pretty much all agree on their scandalous nature. What were some of the darkest and most controversial moments from Gotham in 2017? CBR shares some that stood out to us!
15. JIM “THE WAR-DOG” GORDON
From the first episode of Gotham, we are given such a radically different version of the “Commish” that he is almost unrecognizable. Not in the way he looks — Ben McKenzie is well cast — but the way the character is portrayed. Jim Gordon was never a dirty cop or womanizer. In prior media of all forms, he was so clean he squeaked.
It’s true that Jim Gordon is a hardened veteran who doesn’t care what other cops may think about his tactics, but not because he’s dirty. Jim won’t tolerate stepping over the line as a police officer. It is due to Gordon’s law abiding nature that he winds up aligning with Batman. If Jim Gordon were the mad “war dog” willing to break just about every rule in the book to protect his charge, there would be no role for Bats in his own story.
14. THE DEMON’S HEAD
After witnessing the murder of his parents, young Master Bruce was determined to learn all the skills he’d need to become a crime fighting detective. Enter Ra’s al Ghul — head of the “League of Assassins” and Lazarus Pit enthusiast. Bruce spent years training under Ra’s and the League — the most skilled assassins in the world. It’s where some of his best skills in combat, stealth, and reconnaissance came from.
In addition, Ra’s is basically immortal and obsessed with keeping it that way. Gotham just brushed over Ra’s and the League like they were some minor characters. Instead of raw power and longevity, Ra’s was reduced to a man desperate for release from life, killed by a teenage Bruce. Unless they bring Ra’s back — this is Gotham, after all — there is a huge hole in the Batman story left by his death, and Bruce’s lack of extensive training under him.
13. THE GOTHAM “SIRENS”
Originally introduced to the DCU in 2009 by Paul Dini and Guillem March, The Gotham City Sirens is a fun series featuring everyone’s favorite female anti-heroes — Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Brought together by their need for survival as female villains in a male dominant industry, we get to follow their adventures together while they cause trouble and save the world.
In Gotham, “The Sirens” were formed by Tabitha Galivan, Barbara Keene, and Selina Kyle, after they were dropped by Penguin. In Season 2, Babs and Tabby even had their club called “The Sirens” which was a pretty large Easter Egg. There is only one actual founding “siren” in the Gotham “Sirens,” however. That, of course, was the young Selina Kyle, continuing to commit crimes with women old enough to be her mom. We get she’s a “street kid” and they grow up faster, but still, Gotham’s “Sirens” are just wrong in more levels than Donkey Kong.
12. IT WAS MOONEY!
Like the ocean tides she is named for, Fish Mooney comes and goes throughout Gotham. Jada Pinkett Smith does a fabulous job playing her, and the character is engrossing and unpredictable. It is hard not to love the sassy, dominant crime boss. To many DC fans, though, Fish is an unnecessary distraction. She isn’t even a real DCU character!
People are allowed to take liberties with these stories, but Fish is a liberty that many have taken issue with since her first appearance. They’re using Ms. Mooney as a thread to tie seemingly unconnected stories together. That isn’t needed, because we have so much original material to do that for us. It seems they’re trying to freshen things up, and fill in time while Bruce grows up a bit. It is poorly executed, however, and we hope that Fish actually stays in the water from now on.
11. PENGY AND NYGMA SITTING IN A TREE
Regardless of how one may feel about human relationships, the way Gotham has chosen to portray the one between Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma is pretty controversial. Please don’t get us wrong, we love that DC has embraced the LGBTQ community pretty much since day one (see Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Joker and Batman), but feel that Gotham goes a bit over the top with this embellishment.
Nygma and Penguin’s relationship is in no way healthy or a good example, considering the whole “killing off each other’s competition” thing. The portrayal would definitely have far less romance to it if we had Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Danny DeVeto as Penguin. That would be a totally different story! They’d be too busy cracking jokes and causing mayhem for much else. Hold on a moment, haven’t we seen that somewhere before?
10. BARBARA KEAN
Like Fish Mooney, “Babs” is another character this series seems to be using as unneeded filler for a franchise that has a wealth of already extreme personalities to choose from. She is not spoken of much in DC, so they can take liberties with her, of course. It is just flat out odd to see her portrayed as the psychopathic loose canon, versus the mild mannered woman we meet in the comics and other materials.
We suppose that all mothers were young once and had their wilder, killing spree sort of days. Barbara needs to settle down and get back with Jim Gordon so they can raise Barbara Jr., who will become Batgirl — kind of important to the Batman story line. So long as they don’t try to turn Barbara into Harley Quinn, we’ll remain faithful watchers. There are some lines that just shouldn’t be crossed!
9. STOP HITTING YOURSELF
Cyrus Gold, aka Solomon Grundy, first appeared in DC back in 1944, in All-American Comics #61. He has had quite an involved history for a character many have missed while reading the comics. Grundy has had run-ins with everyone from Green Lantern to Bats, and even the Justice League. His massive strength and zombie immortality make him quite a formidable foe, despite his often slow wit. So we can see why they would (sorta) transform Butch into Grundy.
It is definitely wrong to take advantage of those who cannot think for themselves. Poor Butch- turned-Grundy was majorly used by a frustrated Ed Nygma in Cherry’s fighting pits, where he did thrive with his newfound ability to rip off the limbs of his opponents. Still, it was not appropriate for Riddler to be using Grundy like that, as The Doc and Tabby pointed out. Tabby really tried to drive that home, but still couldn’t get through his thick skull.
8. LIL BATS
The timing of Bruce Wayne donning a cowl to fight crime is so incredibly wrong. Bruce trained for years and years all over the world before he became a crime fighter (see Ra’s al Ghul). Even then, he doesn’t get that inspiration until he has the infamous Batcave encounter, which would be on this list but for the fact that it aired before 2017.
The fact that they separated the bats from the cave and made it something his father did is also just odd. The whole point is that there was no point behind his parents’ death. It was a random act of senseless violence. Batman searches for meaning but never finds it. How nice he got it in 2017 — but it doesn’t seem to be doing Bruce much good, considering how big of a jerk he is right now.
7. PARTY ON, WAYNE
The “rebellious teen phase” we’ve been seeing in Bruce Wayne is an interesting and potentially good aspect to bring in, because it isn’t something we get to see elsewhere in the DC multiverse. It probably would have happened, though. All teens seem to go through it, especially (we’d imagine) those who saw their parents murdered and then avenge their death only to find it does nothing to fill their absence.
It seems in doing this, Gotham is trying to show the hole that Bats struggles with his entire life. The thing that drives him to go out night after night and take and give beatings — the tragic loss of his parents. But Gotham’s portrayal is really hard to buy into — you can’t just start drinking like a fish your first time and keep going on like that. We at CBR know from personal experience! Plus, Alfred wouldn’t tolerate that crass attitude for long.
6. THE GOOD DOCTOR
In the DCU, Leslie Thompson is a kind-hearted doctor administering aid to those in need in some of the toughest parts of Gotham. It was she who comforted Bruce after seeing his parents get brutally gunned down. Sounds like Leigh Thompson, one of the ladies who has played an intimate role in Jim Gordon’s life in the series.
It’s always fun to see good girls go bad, especially when they’re the girl-next-door types like Leigh Thompson. The way it is done in Gotham, though, is poorly translated, which makes it hard to believe. On the other hand, in the rest of DC, Leigh is older than she is depicted on the show. That is, she is basically old enough to have dated Alfred on and off throughout the years! That would be like making Peter Parker’s Aunt May attractive. Oh wait…
5. THE TETCH VIRUS
The Tetch Virus is one of the grossest and longer lasting of the Gotham story lines. It involved some of our least favorite things — a sibling obsessed with his sister in ways that go beyond “brotherly love,” a blood borne illness that drives people insane, and a character that rhymes. People who rhyme can be endearing, but with Jervis Tetch, it’s about as endearing as having to chew glass.
Poor Alice, having to deal with that most of her life! And then, instead of being allowed to rest in peace, she was still having to deal with his madness in death! Hopefully, she finally did find serenity once that whole affair was over. It is a good thing they came up with that antidote or else Gotham would be rampant with rhyming killers.
4. FAMILY VALUES
Family can be complicated for just about everybody at times. Gotham’s Selina Kyle has it even more difficult than most. She is a tough gal from the streets who is always ready with a sure foot and sharp reply, since she’s had to raise herself. The audience wasn’t told much about her mother or father, until Maria Kyle was introduced late in Season 2.
She seemed like she just wanted to reconnect with her daughter before it was too late in her life to do so. It was uncertain if Maria was someone who could be trusted or not, and Bruce was skeptical of Selina’s concerns. Unfortunately, Cat was right, and her mom turned out to not only be a shady character with more to her story than first revealed — she straight robbed her young daughter’s friend. That is just ruthless; it’s no wonder Selina didn’t trust her!
3. MEAT PIES FOR ALL
Nothing like a lovely table set for a delicious meal — especially when a skilled chef is the one preparing it. We don’t care how good the food is supposed to be, though — if our cook came out wearing a mask made of dead pig parts we’d run for our lives! The entire concept behind the serial killer known as Professor Pyg is so creepy it made us squeamish.
From that horrible mask, to the dismemberment and organ removal, the Pyg murders were quite a wild ride. The icing on the cake was the meal he presented to Gotham’s elite towards the end of his bloody career — meat pies made of the organs of the poor he had murdered! How lucky for Sofia Falcone that she didn’t have to find out what it tasted like. Who’s hungry for some homemade chicken pot pie?
2. FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES
It could be argued that using a child with disabilities to spy for you while teaching them demented life philosophies is pretty controversial. Enter Martin (said like “Mar-teen”), a sweet but shy, deaf, and mute child who lived in an orphanage established by Sofia Falcone. While showing the place to Penguin, he saw Martin and instantly bonded with him due to him being different from the other children.
Taking him under his wing, Oswald started to teach the child his way of looking at the world and dressing him up in custom suits. Sofia had planned this potential bond from the beginning and used Martin to spy on Cobblepot and report back to her about all his doings. Things escalated quickly when Oswald caught on to Sofia, using the child to spy on her back, and then as the ultimate cat’s paw in a very explosive manner.
1. FACE OFF
Quite possibly one of the most argued-over moments in Gotham last year was the revival of Jerome and his transformation into The Joker. Some think the way Gotham’s writers played with the DCU story lines, incorporating massive amounts of Easter Eggs — The House of Mirrors and Tunnel of Love — was well done. Joker did have his face cut off in The New 52 comics, and has died and been brought back to life multiple times in as many forms of media.
Other fans think Jerome’s induction was poorly done and timed. Like Bruce Wayne, in the rest of the DCU The Joker doesn’t become the villain we know and love/hate until he is an adult. Going so deep into defining The Joker could be thought of as doing him a disservice, since the archetypal Joker is one who cannot be defined — the wildcard, the player of all parts.
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