When Fox gave a series commitment to Batman prequel Gotham back in September, the excitement around a TV drama about the Dark Knight’s hometown was somewhat muted by confusion over which classic comic book characters would make the journey to the tube.
Focusing on the origins of the Caped Crusader’s police liaison, Commissioner James Gordon, many suspected that Batman would not be part of the series. Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly says that’s just not the case.
“This is not one of the things where you bought a franchise and then none of characters people know,” Reilly told reporters during a Monday panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “We will follow Bruce Wayne right up until the point where he gets interesting.”
Reilly confirmed that the series will be as much of an origin story for Batman as for Gordon. The pilot, executive produced and written by The Mentalist showrunner Bruno Heller, is in the process of casting — and Reilly supposed that they will be looking for a boy of about 12 years old to play the young Wayne.
“It’s Gotham teetering on the edge,” he said. “This is all of the classic Batman characters.”
The Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman were also mentioned as villains who will be part of the series. Reilly also said that the plan is for the series to ultimately end with Bruce Wayne putting on the cape and becoming Batman — much as Smallville did with Superman.
Following the session, Reilly told reporters that the series will be very serialized and not an “adjunct companion” show. “This is the Batman franchise just backing it up,” he said. “It gives a real focus as to what this show is about and what stories we’re telling.”
While The CW briefly considered introducing The Flash as a backdoor pilot in Arrow before ditching that plan and shooting it as a standalone, Reilly doesn’t see Gotham working the same way should other characters be introduced and connect. “Do I think we’ll peel out the Riddler? I don’t. There’s a large tapestry of characters to service there over many, many years. I hope we can keep it on for a long, long run.”
To that end, Fox now has the rights — buying the entire franchise for what Reilly said was a “very healthy license fee” — and will be able to draw from the entire Batman catalog. The exec noted that it’s too early to say where he sees Gotham potentially landing on the schedule, but said he’d like to see the series with a larger, 22-episode order.
Gotham comes to Fox from DC Comics and Warner Bros. Television. The character of Commissioner Gordon is still the central figure. First appearing in Detective Comics #27, the same issue that introduced Batman, Gordon’s roots in the DC universe run deep. He was famously portrayed by Gary Oldman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy and the late Pat Hingle in the 1989-97 Batman features.