Fox' Gotham has only just finished its third season, with a young and masked Bruce Wayne -- who had just rescued a family, much like his own -- looking to the dark Gotham City skyline as he contemplates a life of fighting crime. After all of the crazy developments that happened over the course of the season, this was a final note that looked to a new direction for the fourth season of the series. But every year, Gotham's audience is dwindling, to the point that a renewal was a question at some point, before becoming official.
After a strong start, Gotham has struggled to carve its own place in the superhero TV landscape. When shows like Arrow, The Flash, Daredevil and Luke Cage are all receiving praise for their characters and storytelling, when all come off as genuine and even downright iconic, Gotham still can't find its own footing. For that reason alone, it might be time to look at season four as the final season of the show. After thee years, the series still hasn't managed to live up to its potential and that is why, today, CBR takes a look at 15 reasons why season four should be Gotham's last.
The Riddler. Penguin. Mr. Freeze. The Mad Hatter. Hugo Strange. Scarecrow. The Court of Owls. Firefly. Poison Ivy. Carmine Falcone. Victor Zsasz. The Dollmaker. Electrocutioner. Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Ra's Al Ghul. All of these characters are recognizable Batman villains that have appeared in more or less fully-formed fashion on Gotham, without mentioning quite a few others that are "in the making" or appearing as proto-versions of themselves.
Who's next, Kite Man? King Tut? The Gotham series has used so many of Batman's rogues that it seems it will only have to dig further and further into the character's long comic book history to find more villainous characters to bring to the table. The series is playing fast and loose with the Batman villains and soon there won't be much of anything for them left to adapt.
From its earliest episodes, Gotham has always seen its fair share of camp. But that has grown exponentially over the course of its subsequent seasons. So much so that, at times, the show and its scenes can come across as completely and unbelievably ridiculous, and it is still played off as straight. As an example, look no further than the costumes the characters wear, which can range from regular to outlandish in a single episode.
From new villains like Fish Mooney that try to have their own shocking personality, to baffling scenes of inmates set in Arkham Asylum, the show still tries its damnedest to be dark, and shocking, and violent, all while being increasingly over-the-top. It's a dichotomy of tones that make it very hard to buy this show as a real place and a real story and more like a parody of what everyone thinks Gotham City should be.
The basic fundamentals of Bruce Wayne's story is that, after losing his parents, he dedicated his life to training and turning into something fearsome, then returned to his town to fight the criminals, the cowardly and the corrupt. And, in doing so, the emergence of Batman creates a wave of villains the likes of which Gotham City has never seen before.
And yet, the Gotham series saw it fit to change that up completely. Instead of creating his villains, they all pretty much exist already before the idea of Batman even existing. In this instance, Gotham is just a crazy place, with or without Batman. And all of that means that, since Bruce still has a long way to go yet before he dons the cowl, these villains will be very old -- not to mention all defeated by James Gordon -- before Batman lights his signal in the sky.
Detective/Officer/Commissioner Gordon is the star and leading man of the Gotham series. The show was constructed around him, his arrival to Gotham, and this fight of a good man going up against impossible odds in a city on the brink. He started rough around the edges, which was fine, but the problem is that Gordon has gone through so many changes that he barely feels like Gordon anymore.
James Gordon is supposed to be a man with an unwavering moral code, but defeated and crushed by a city he can't fight or change. But what we have seen on the television show is a very different man, one who isn't afraid the cross the line whenever he feels like it. Gordon is more than just rough around the edges, he has gone over them all, to the point that he comes off as unrecognizable and irredeemable.
At its onset, Gotham looked to be inspired by Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy in its approach and execution. But quickly, we came to realize that the show wasn't going to shy away from any Batman source material it could mine: from Nolan to Tim Burton's movies, Batman: The Animated Series, even the much-maligned Schumacher movies and, of course, the comic books.
The result however is an amalgam world that fails to do all of these sources justice, since the show never fully embraces just one of them. It throws everything into the blender to create a mix that Gotham hopes can satisfy every Batman fan from all eras, but the result is just an amalgam of different interpretations that shouldn't be mixed together at all.
Over the course of its three seasons, Gotham has seen many of its characters go through dramatic changes for the sake of the plot. Whether it was the relatively normal Barbara Kean turning into a full-blown psychopath or James Gordon himself turning into a cold-blooded killer, many characters have seen their stories take sharp turns, something that makes them feel less like characters and more like plot devices.
Gotham is a case where, more often than not, it feels like the plot is driving the characters instead of the other way around. Whether its the Tetch virus or a drastic change in personality, characters like James, Barbara, Captain Barnes and Lee Thompkins aren't allowed to organically grow as the story progresses. The story is thrust upon them and their characters suffer for it, which makes it very hard to connect and root for any of them.
For a show that started grounded in a certain amount of reality, it sure seems like all of that was quickly thrown out of the window after Gotham's first season. In fact, many characters who had died or appeared dead on the series have come back to life, like Fish Mooney, Theo Galavan/Azrael, Jerome Valeska, and even Barbara Kean after surviving a very long and fateful fall.
Even Alfred has managed to survive quite a few stabbings, even very recently thanks to Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pit, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade-style. The result is that, with every character able to come back after their demise, the show feels like it has no stakes. Sure, this is all based on comic books, but still, there are times where death should mean something, and where the characters should feel the consequences of their actions.
Without even mentioning the almost countless number of villains, there is a character on Gotham by the name of Bruce Wayne whose development has been more than fast-tracked to lead him on the road to becoming Batman. By the closing moments of season three, it seems like Bruce is halfway there, even though he has only lost his parents three years ago.
In the comics, Bruce leaves Gotham for a very long time before returning to his city as an adult, taking on the persona of the Batman. But now, with Bruce still barely out of school, we have seen him start his training, become inspired by Azrael, find the “batcave” and even start fighting crime in the streets. It seems like Gotham isn't satisifed with its basic premise and seems keen on fast-tracking Bruce's development, something that sadly will lessen his evolution, as these things seemed forced instead of organic.
The Court of Owls are a ghost story, a group whose number and influence are more important than any identity of any member. Their menace is in their myth, their influence. Their full, white masks are their true identities -- it doesn't matter who is underneath. Black Mask is a devious gangster, not someone who runs a little fight club. And the Scarecrow wasn't Jonathan Crane's father.
These are but a few examples of villains that were brought onto the series only to end up as poor representations of themselves. Some have seen their origins outright completely changed to fit the narrative and timeline of the series, choosing to make quite a few of these villains legacy characters instead of originals. And this isn't even mentioning a certain villain that Gotham keeps playing around with, yet never fully introduces. It's almost like the show is...
At this point, Gotham is doing its own thing, there is no denying that. So why then does the show keep tiptoeing around the Joker? He is a character the producers teased early on, mentioning that we would see many possible Jokers. But when Jerome was introduced to the show, his maniacal laugh and crazy antics were perfect for who the character should be in this universe.
Cameron Monaghan was able to bring elements from every popular version of the Joker and somehow make it all work on-screen and yet, the series is still shy of confirming him as the Joker. He has had his face cut off and put back on, just like in The New 52 comic books, and he and Bruce have fought mercilessly already. We need the green hair and white makeup. Until then, this all just feels like all setup and no punchline.
After the massive success of Wonder Woman and excitement brewing in Batman's return to the big screen in Justice League, the DCEU is back on track, much to the pleasure of many DC fans. And with a solo Batman film coming from director Matt Reeves, there is excitement to be had once again in a new movie starring Batman. And that is the place where he -- and his rogues -- should be allowed to shine.
Batman is already looking at his third cinematic appearance in a year and a half, and the attention should be in making his movies the best they can be. Gotham is throwing and twisting everything they can on-screen in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of way, and that may just end up lessening the impact of Batman on the big screen. Instead, Gotham should take a step back and allow the movies to adapt the character's stories in a way they never could.
With Bruce Wayne at such a young age, Gotham is a show all about its villains, something that was apparent from the very first episode and its many teases and Easter eggs pertaining to many well-known supervillains. But Batman isn't the only superhero in the DC Universe, and it could make a lot of sense for Gotham to feature at least one superhero in their city.
In fact, the producers wouldn't have to look far. In Batman: The Animated Series, we saw the Gray Ghost, a character that inspired Bruce Wayne to become a vigilante. Furthermore, the show introduced Renee Montoya in its first season, a character destined to become the vigilante known as The Question. But sadly, we never saw Renee after that. The series would do really well to introduce a DC hero that we can cheer for.
Gotham is a series that doesn't really know what it wants to be, even after three years. It started out exactly as it was sold to us: a grounded cop drama, set in the city of Gotham. Before Batman and before all of his colorful villains. It was supposed to be a show about Detective Gordon rising through police ranks as he deals with a dark and corrupted city. A series inspired by the Gotham Central comics.
It didn't take long however for more and more villains to pop-up. Crazy science and gadgets started to become the norm, people came back from the dead and clones were running about the city. It became less a show about cops and more about villains. It became about a young Bruce Wayne turning into a vigilante. All of these elements that Gotham still tries to juggle at the same time.
In the haste of featuring every possible Batman villain they could fit into their show, Gotham sadly had one character left behind: Bruce Wayne. The result, as previously mentioned on this list, was that Bruce's development into Batman has been greatly fast-tracked. By changing everything as much as Gotham has, it has come to a point that barely any comic canon has been left intact.
While the basis of the show and all of its main players hail from the comic books (save for a few original characters), everyone's personalities, origins, destinies and traits have been altered and sacrificed for the Gotham tapestry. Barely any comic feels honored, to the point that the show itself feels like its own Elseworlds tale. At this point, it wouldn't even surprise us if it turns out that Bruce Wayne's parents are actually alive somewhere.
Let's face it. Batman will never be on this show. As much as we want to believe it, as much as the show will tease it, there will never be a full-fledged Batman gracing the screen in Gotham. For that to happen, the show would need a substantial jump forward in time of at least 5-10 years. The truth of the matter is, Bruce Wayne is simply too young and inexperienced to become Batman.
And that is a frustrating notion in and of itself. It would have been one thing if Bruce Wayne had merely been a supporting player, a character with brief appearances, a lonely, recluse boy saddened by his parents' death that Jim Gordon visits from time to time. But now, Bruce is as much a main character as Gordon, and that makes us wish to see Batman fight his villains even more, something that simply can't, and won't, happen.
What do you think of Gotham? Let us know in the comments!