Is 'Gotham' Based on 'Batman: Year One'? The TV Series Is Forging a New Path in the 'Batman' Canon
Ever since the news of Fox's superhero procedural and Batman prequel Gotham was announced, I've been trying to guess how the writers will age down the characters of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon. While most Bat-fiction takes place a good 15 years after Gotham, there is a precedent for speculative Batman prequels. As described by Entertainment Weekly, written in the late 1980s, Batman: Year One reset the stage for Batman's origins in a darker, seedier Gotham that more closely resembled the American cities it was based on, from New York to Chicago to Detroit. Year One has become the accepted Batman origin, and as EW explains, served as the inspiration for Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. But FOX's new show is blazing its own trail, and while it's taking some of Year One's plot as inspiration, they've made some big changes.
One major difference is that Gotham has shifted the timeline considerably. In the comics, Gordon returns to Gotham as a full-grown, experienced detective who cut his teeth at Chicago's police department. He has the same military background as the Gordon in the series, but that's farther behind him, and while it gives him combat skills, the comic never dove into any lasting PTSD from that experience. So in Year One, Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon arrive in the city simultaneously after a long absence, but this timeline will place Gordon in the thick of Gotham's decline into criminality.
Christopher Nolan's film series also placed Gordon at the scene of the Waynes' death, comforting the boy. Since in that story, Bruce is the lead, he gets tasked with tracking the motives of the killer, but in this version that falls on Gordon, and will lead him into the Gotham City mob and to fight corruption on the police force, just like in the Year One comic. Of course there's no Fish Mooney in Year One, since her character was created for the show. But the Falcone family, corrupt cops, a young Selina Kyle out on the streets, and Gordon's two love interests, Sarah Essen and Barbara Kean, are all set to be in Season 1 of Gotham. And Gotham has one more, very random connection to Batman: Year One — Ben McKenzie, who plays Gordon in the show, voiced Bruce Wayne/Batman in an animated film adaptation of the comic.
One of the biggest failings of one of DC's first forays into television, Smallville, was that they didn't give themselves enough time between when the show started and when we all expected Clark Kent to put on a pair of tights and a cape. But Gotham has plenty of time to spend with Gordon before Batman will be by his side; in Year One, Bruce Wayne is 25 when he returns to his home city with the goal of fighting back. So paradoxically, Batman's most famous origin story might end up being Gotham's epilogue.
Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX (2)