Effectively right after “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” had its premiere, Deadline landed the “exclusive” news that Warner Bros. is developing a comic-movie spin-off series of their own from “Mentalist” creator Bruno Heller. Surprising absolutely ZERO living humans, the DC franchise being spun-off… is Batman.
The title: GOTHAM. The pitch: The exploits of Commissioner Gordon in pre-Batman Gotham City… so, “Law & Order”/Criminal Minds”/”CSI”/etc but (presumably) with Batman villains.
Y’know what? That’s actually a really good idea – and you can tell that Warners thinks so as well by the network in question: This is going to Fox instead of traditional DC-series home The CW, which indicates that Warners is confident that people might actually want to watch this show. Fans and pros alike have been talking about bringing Batman back to live-action television for awhile* (real talk: Between the Adam West show, “The Animated Series,” both “Justice League” runs and “The Brave and The Bold;” episodic television seems to be where this character works best); and this is a great way of doing that without “lowering” their now Affleck-fronted cinematic cash cow to TV.
The big question, one imagines, is whether or not this will attempt to establish some kind of connection with the still-murky history of the new version of Batman set to debut in “Superman vs. Batman” – where they’re already talking up the idea that he’ll be a kind of grizzled “veteran” superhero in contrast to Superman’s relative-newbie status. Not long ago that would’ve been an easy “no, Warner Bros. doesn’t care about that;” but it’s sounding more and more like the new Flash who’ll be showing up on “Arrow” next season is meant to be part of the eventual “Justice League” feature, so who knows?
Continuity aside, one has to wonder what the setting for this is going to look like: James Gordon traditionally meets Batman either in middle-age or as an otherwise older man (he’s a Commissioner, after all); so “before Batman” is a pretty long stretch of time. Will they go younger, with Sexy Fresh-Out-Of-The-Academy College-Age Officer Gordon learning the ropes? Middle-aged Detective Gordon? Older Gordon who’ll meet Batman “any day now?” Maybe it’s telling that Deadline’s story only specifies that Batman won’t appear – does that mean Bruce Wayne could? If so, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of logistical possibility to get Ben Affleck to throw on a three-piece suit and pull a sweeps-week cameo as “carefree playboy Bruce Wayne,” hanging out on the periphery of this or that investigation while series regulars make unintentionally-ironic comments about his physicality, sleeping-habits, etc.
We’ll see. Incidentally, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was good. Solid, good cast, sharp writing that only occasionally feels a little too Whedon for it’s own good. Feels like almost every important character had two separate introductions – one for “this is X!” and one for “is it true about X’s ominously-alluded-to mysterious backstory?,” which would feel like too much ambition anywhere else but makes sense here. I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow, so stay tuned.
*Young Bruce Wayne was supposed to become a part of “Smallville” at one point, but the character and storyline were rewritten into Oliver Queen instead once the run-up to “Batman Begins” got under way.