"I hate it when he does that."
For as much as Batman is known as a creature of the night, it's almost equally accepted the Dark Knight likes to use his shadowy skills to screw with his friends. And over the years, it's become one of the core Batman elements that's filtered across all media: the Caped Crusader arriving in the shadows unheard, and then leaving just as Commissioner Gordon's back is turned.
In its Season 4 premiere, Gotham made the iconic trope its latest grace note culled from comics history. Midway through the episode "Pax Penguina," which kicks off the drama's "A Dark Knight" arc, a young Bruce Wayne visits Detective Jim Gordon at Gotham City Police Department to gain information about Oswald Cobblepot's latest scheme.
"I didn't hear you," Gordon says following double-take when Bruce appears. Like a lot of elements of Gotham in its new season, the exchange is beginning to feel more and more like the classic Batman comics. Actor David Mazouz throws his best Christian Bale growl at certain scenes, along with his slicked-back haircut. And while Bruce Wayne's new ability to sneak and jump off buildings has little logical justification (somehow he learned it after being held in the Court of Owls enclave and drugged a bunch?), the effect elicits smiles.
The vanishing act also gives actor Ben McKenzie a chance for a rare bit of fun in the role of Gordon. His exasperated looks when the teenage billionaire seems one step ahead of his own investigation, and his plain confusion at Bruce's ninja skills, give Gordon a world-weary quality more akin to the mustached Commissioner he'll become.
More importantly, the scene serves as a timely (although unintentional) tribute to the man who popularized the "Batman vanishes from Gordon" trope as best as CBR can tell. The late Len Wein turned the idea into an ongoing gag in a 1973 issue of DC Comics' Swamp Thing after it was likely introduced the year before by writer Frank Robbins. Wein's version maps well to the "I hate it when he does that" take fans know and love today, and the moment is only one of the contributions by the recently deceased legend to both Batman and the Gotham, which also has plans for Wein's character Lucius Fox.