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Batman Prequel Series Coming to Fox

UPDATED: The network has given a series commitment to a drama about Batman's police liaison from "Mentalist" showrunner Bruno Heller.

Bruno Heller Headshot - P 2012
Courtesy of CBS
Bruno Heller

Fox has given a straight-to-series order for comic book drama Gotham, based on Batman character Commissioner James Gordon.

The origins tale centering on the DC Comics fixture comes to the network from Warner Bros. Television. The series will be executive produced and written by The Mentalist showrunner Bruno Heller. News regarding Gotham City's most notable police officer comes on the same day that ABC launched its own comic franchise, Agents of SHIELD -- from corporate sister Marvel -- based on the long-running intelligence group featured in the comics.

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WBTV and DC are already in the TV business with The CW's Arrow and potential spinoff Flash in the works, but Gotham takes them into more familiar territory. A description for the series says that in addition to showing the history behind Gordon, it will focus on the villains that made the fictional city famous.

Since it chronicles events before Gordon meets Batman, the superhero will not be part of the series -- but Gordon's roots in the Batman universe go quite deep. He first appeared in Detective Comics #27, the same issue that introduced the Dark Knight. He was famously portrayed by Gary Oldman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy and the late Pat Hingle in the 1989-97 Batman features.

The series also isn't Fox's first flirtation with Batman this development season. The network recently gave a pilot order to The Middle Man from director/exec producer Ben Affleck, who is set to play Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in the upcoming Zack Snyder feature.

Gotham joins Fox's Tina Fey-Matt Hubbard-Robert Carlock comedy as the only projects that have landed the rare straight-to-series orders for the 2014-15 broadcast season. (CBS' Steven Spielberg-produced Extant also was picked up straight to series for summer 2014.)  

Gotham marks the latest comic book adaptation in the works at Fox. The network is also adapting Alan Moore's Vertigo comic League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which received a put-pilot commitment in July. And Homeland's Howard Gordon is prepping Boom Studios' Unthinkable, which also received a hefty commitment from Fox earlier this month. 

The Gotham series also comes as The CW is still mulling Amazon, a potential Wonder Woman prequel series recounting the early days of the Justice League heroine. NBC tried to bring Wonder Woman to the screen two years ago with prolific producer David E. Kelley attached, but the much-maligned pilot failed to move forward. If The CW's Wonder Woman and Flash projects were to move forward and Batman were to appear on Gotham, DC could see the bulk of the Justice League either on TV or on the big screen.

Heller is repped by WME.