How Faithful is “Gotham” to Batman Mythology?


Gotham is hardly an exact replica of the Batman mythos fans are familiar with, but that doesn’t mean audiences are upset either. And to be fair, the Batman comics comprise many characters with winding histories. Even Gotham City is like an unofficial character, with a voice and a heartbeat that thrives on crime, corruption, and dark secrets tucked away in smoky alleys. There’s a distinct identity and an even more distinct mood and atmosphere that viewers expect Gotham to capture. But this is a lofty chore, and Batman purists will probably find themselves at odds with the final product regardless. And Gotham is hardly expected to follow the Batman comics or other works as if they’re one-direction maps; they just need to give the audience what it wants, but not necessarily what it expects. However, some of the series’ choices have left viewers confused why Gotham strays from the source material because they’re not sure why they need to.

Adding new characters to the Batman world is welcomed by audiences if the new character has a well-developed persona, story, and even manages to enhance other characters. Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a new character to the Batman world. Initially, she seems like an exciting addition to the series. She’s tough, rebellious, and has significant power in Gotham City’s organized crime; doing it all in high heels. But her character is ill-conceived. Her presence facilitates Oswald Cobblepot’s (Robin Lord Taylor) rise in the crime world, and that is all. She tries to overthrow Falcone (John Doman), gets undermined by Cobblepot, flees Gotham City, meets and escapes Dollmaker (Colm Feore), returns to Gotham City to reassert herself as queen, and falls from a rooftop to her death. It seems strange to have all this character development just to erase her in the end. But in this case, it’s probably for the best.

There is a complication in having Fish Mooney kill mobster Sal Maroni (David Zayas). As most Batman fans know, “Don Maroni is supposed to be the guy who scars Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto) and creates Two-Face” (Mike Cecchini, Since this is obviously not going to be the case on Gotham, one can only wonder what the show has in mind for Harvey Dent’s transformation. It is evident the show’s creators are not concerned with holding to the Batman mythology, but this doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. This gives Gotham a chance to make a more original creation that is not completely reliant upon a beloved mythos. But if they do not satisfy audiences with their new characters and stories, it’s only going to make viewers question why they deviated from the source material in the first place.

When the Joker is typically portrayed in DC comics or the Batman franchise, he’s shrouded in mystery. There is little to nothing available on his upbringing or family life. However, when viewers are introduced to Gotham’s take on the character, they are presented with the young boy Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), whose mother is a snake dancer with Haly’s Circus and has a connection to the Grayson family. It also turns out that Jerome murdered his mother, which hints at his severe and dangerous mental instability. This storyline certainly gives the Joker a more detailed and colorful past, but it also tarnishes his enigmatic eeriness; knowing less about such a famous, sinister villain enhances his unpredictability and the fear he brings to Gotham City.

One detail that’s also typically accepted about the Joker is his affiliation with the Red Hood Gang. Gotham delivers an episode on the gang (“Red Hood,” which is the episode following the Joker’s intro, “The Blind Fortune Teller”), but it’s hard to imagine how this can be applied to the Joker at this point, especially considering the timeline the series has adopted. The Joker was the Red Hood at one point, which actually led him to becoming the Joker: He and the Red Hood Gang were robbing a chemical plant, when Batman cornered him, leaving him with nowhere to run. Desperate to flee, he dropped into a vat of chemicals and was able to swim away, but at the expense of permanent disfigurement. His hair turned green, his skin became pale, and his lips were permanently tinged red. This event proved to be a tipping point for the Joker, making him even more insane. It’s doubtful Gotham is going to keep with this story point. Gotham‘s deviations create worry as to what they will choose as a path for the Joker when his original path is so cemented in our minds.

The changes the series has adopted thus far are not alienating Batman fans, but the more senseless the changes appear to be, the more the audience is going to question them. There needs to be a familiarity to the Batman mythology, otherwise there is no point in Gotham exploring this world. Reinterpretation of Batman lore is to be expected, but when viewers can no longer recognize the heroes, the villains, the city, and the message, then it’s time to go back to the beginning. Gotham has a chance to make this special world even more special; let’s hope they do it justice.