'Gotham' Adds Dr. Leslie Thompkins, But Morena Baccarin's Character Has Changed a Lot from Page To Screen
When we think of heroes like Batman, often we imagine an always broody figure who fights the evils of Gotham alone. But Batman actually has a dedicated group of people to back him up or call him out when he's being a jerk. While Batman isn't likely to appear, we're still seeing characters known for supporting Bruce Wayne and his work as the Caped Crusader become major factors on Gotham. An important figure from Batman's life in the comics is coming to Gotham in Monday night's new episode, with Morena Baccarin playing Dr. Leslie Thompkins.
However Thompkins is going to be dramatically different from what comic book fans would expect. And for those who haven't delved deep into the comics of DC's most high profile superhero, that name may not conjure up any expectations. It's OK, I'm here to drop some knowledge and let you know what might happen when Dr. Thompkins makes her way to the gritty streets of Gotham.
Comic Book History
When it was announced that Dr. Thompkins was coming to Gotham, I pictured her as she's always been shown. A much older, gray-haired woman. Then I heard that Firefly star Morena Baccarin was cast as Dr. Leslie Thompkins and I knew Gotham would be shaking things up. In the comics, Dr. Thompkins was close friends with Bruce Wayne's parents and a medical colleague of his father's. Like Alfred, she operates as a surrogate parent for Bruce, which you can see in her appearances on Batman the Animated Series.
When Bruce becomes Batman, Dr. Thompkins is still his close confidante while also providing medical support when he gets his ass kicked. Yes, even Batman loses a fight sometimes — he's only human even if sometimes writers forget that. Dr. Thompkins is caring, but isn't afraid to criticize Bruce when she thinks he's taking his crime fighting too far. She's known for being a highly skilled doctor who often uses her abilities to help the impoverished citizens of Gotham when she isn't healing crime fighters like Catwoman and Nightwing. Most of this won't be a factor on Gotham.
Changes from Page To Screen
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Baccarin said about her character, "...we’re not sticking too close to the original mythology. We are having her team up with Jim Gordon instead of the Wayne family and Bruce. Eventually, who knows—it could go in that direction, but it hasn’t yet.”
Baccarin also described her character as "Somebody who’s very no-bull***t, speaks her mind. She’s not pulled in by the craziness, corruption of Gotham. She’d rather live in a better world [but] she’s also very unfazed by the craziness of Gotham and Arkham."
Although, when IGN asked Baccarin if her character would still have been friends with Thomas and Martha Wayne like in the comics, she said, "I believe so. I think so. We haven't gotten that far yet with my character but I think that it's in the works." So, while Gotham is playing pretty loose with the character, there is potential for it to align with most of what we know about Dr. Thompkins from the comics.
Jim Gordon & Dr. Thompkins' Relationship
At this point, we can pretty much throw out everything we know about Batman's canon when watching Gotham. Which is perfectly fine. Long-running comic book characters like Batman have a long, twisted, and often confusing history. Playing around with the canon should be welcome in television and film, as long as the writers know what they're doing. On Gotham I'm not so sure they do. But I have previously thought that for Gotham to work, the major emotional and narrative beats Bruce usually has in the comics will have to be given to Gordon. So is it at all surprising that Dr. Leslie Thompkins is important to Gordon's story arc rather than Bruce's? While it has been rumored that Gordon and Dr. Thompkins may develop a romance, I think he'll be happy to just have someone in his corner.
Dr. Thompkins is an important figure in Batman lore, even if she doesn't get the spotlight as often as his other parental figure and confidante, Alfred Pennyworth. Her presence on Gotham shows that the writers are willing to dig deeper into comic history as they head into the second half of Season 1. But viewers will have to wait and see if they'll be able to pull of their lofty goals.
Images: Jessica Miglio/Fox (2); Giphy