Harvey Dent Joins 'Gotham' as a Friend of Jim Gordon, But That's a Huge Problem for Two-Face
One of the most famous Batman characters in the comic's history is making his way to Gotham. Harvey Dent will appear in Episode 9 of this season and be played by Nicholas D'Agosto. Based on DC Comics' interview with D'Agosto below, it seems fans can expect to see Harvey Dent form a working friendship with Jim Gordon. However, the addition of Dent may not be a good thing. Introducing a twenty-something rising Assistant District Attorney version of Dent underscores all the things wrong with Gotham.
For the most part, Harvey has consistently been a contemporary of Bruce Wayne whether in the animated series of the 1990s, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, or the seminal stories from DC Comics. But in the Fox series, we are witnessing a Bruce Wayne who is barely a pre-teen. The show still needs to develop Gordon's relationship with his detective partner, Harvey Bullock, so we most likely won't be seeing too much of Harvey — at least in the beginning. That brings up a good question: why introduce Kent at all if we won't be seeing his transformation into Two-Face any time soon? Why not introduce another do-gooder ADA? A city like Gotham probably goes through them pretty quickly.
We're probably going to see Dent strike up a friendship with Gordon that will complement each of these professionally and personally. The Dent we see in the show should provide a mirror to Gordon's own arc of a good man fighting a losing battle in a city overcome by corruption. The character beats that long time fans are used to seeing play out between Bruce and Dent may instead be found in his relationship with Gordon. Also, don't be surprised if he flips a coin repeatedly. If Gotham is one thing, it is unsubtle. It loves to put in cheeky hat tips to the widely known tics of the characters from the source material.
At the Television Critics Association press tour in July, executive producer Bruno Heller described the reasoning behind the show's choices, "It’s really about being able to tell the secret histories of these stories. If you just re-tell stories exactly as they’ve been told before, whilst you’re being true to the created mythology, you’re not really adding anything to it. So you have to find ways of finding more." The only problem? Gotham isn't doing much of that. If anything, it would have been bolder to make Harvey around Bruce's age so we can see them develop closely as friends, making Harvey's eventual downfall all the more emotionally compelling.
In only the first season of Gotham we've already seen Selina "Catwoman" Kyle, Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot, Ivy "Poison Ivy" Pepper, Edward "The Riddler" Nygma, and other major characters from the Batman mythos. While Catwoman and Poison Ivy are pretty close to Bruce's age on the show, the other famous villains are a good decade or so older than him. Now I can buy the Penguin I can buy him being older than Batman. But for characters like Harvey, that doesn't quite make sense. By the time Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, what will Dent be doing?
Of course, I am not the only one to think this about Gotham. Toward the beginning of the season io9 discussed the problem with telling a show about Gotham before Batman. The most glaring issue is this show lacks major stakes. We know how these characters are supposed to end up. We know that Gordon won't be able to battle the criminal underbelly into submission. And if Gordon does? Well, that defeats the whole purpose of Batman. What's most frustrating is how the show keeps short changing its own potential.
It continues to surprise me that Fox didn't choose to make Gotham an adaptation of the amazing Gotham Central comic written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. That series was all about how Gotham's police department handled police corruption, mob wars, and murders while having to deal with the havoc of supervillains and Batman's interference. Adapting that work which would have Batman already on the scene, but only seen briefly, would solve most of the show's issues of stagnancy. One of its bigger problems is having made Bruce so young.
The creative minds behind Gotham could have easily done a Gotham-before-Batman show with Bruce Wayne in his late teens/early twenties before putting on the cowl. Considering all the issues of the show I wouldn't be surprised if going into the second season there is a considerable time jump a few years into the future.
I know Gotham is only a few episodes into its first season. But I don't think I am being too hard on it. Right now, it doesn't to know what kind of show they want this to be. Is this supposed to be a campy extravaganza recalling the Batman series from the 1960s starring Adam West? Is it supposed to be a gritty procedural? Is it supposed to be respectful of the source material, or only use it as a jumping off point? Characters who have been around as long as Batman will go through many iterations. I get that. But doing a show about the city of Gotham when Bruce Wayne is so many years away from becoming Barman may not be the best way to bring a fresh angle to a character that has been around for about 75 years.
Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX; Giphy (2)