Edinburgh TV Festival: 'Gotham' Showrunner Says Superheroes Don't "Work Very Well on TV"

Jessica Miglio/FOX
'Gotham'

"You have to keep it real and unreal at the same time," said Bruno Heller, explaining what's tricky about the hit show.

"I don’t think superheroes work very well on TV," Bruno Heller, showrunner of Fox drama Gotham, told the Edinburgh Television Festival on Thursday. "Probably because of the costume thing."

In a "Gamechanger" session during the fest, he argued: "TV is about real people and faces and not so much about magic and the supernatural things." That’s why he chose James Gordon as the focus character of the show, he added.

Heller, also known as the creator and showrunner behind HBO's Rome and CBS' The Mentalist, discussed how he creates characters, crafts his storytelling and shapes and reinvents the world of DC Comics.

The tricky thing about Gotham is that “it has to be both a crime procedural and a mythic, epic, grand comic book saga,” he told the audience. “It’s a tricky combination because you have to keep it real and unreal at the same time.”

Season three of the show, which will debut in September, introduces an adult version of Poison Ivy and the Mad Hatter. "Every season is moving toward the world in which Batman has to emerge to save the day," said Heller. "So every season is doubling down on the chaos and anarchy that is overtaking Gotham. So, things keep getting worse."

As far as the main character goes, Gordon "becomes a bounty hunter, looking for those monsters that escaped" at the end of season two, Heller told the session about the upcoming season. And, he shared, “What’s fun to write is the morale and sort of psychological collapse of Gordon.”

Who does Heller write the show for? "The comic book constituency has become so large and visible with the whole Comic-Con thing that it is very easy to assume that the audience is purely comic book enthusiasts," he said. "But I operate the show on the basis that it is a mistake to just go there."

So he tries to write for both comic fans and a broader audience interested in the characters and storylines. Said Heller, "What we are trying to do is always give little Easter eggs, little gifts every episode to the real cognoscenti, but you don’t need to know more than the basic Batman myth."

comments powered by Disqus