Gotham: The perfect prequel to the DCEU
For me, Gotham failed early. Having introduced a fully realised Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Montoya, Allen and Essen, as well as future rogues, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Penguin, Don Falcone and Don Maroni, I was already wondering why they’d bothered calling it a prequel at all. The only place this show could go was off-track. But the DCEU has handed the show a saving grace: a fresh new canon.
In a world where Batman blows criminals up without a second thought, it makes sense to see a timeline in which the Riddler has been operating for over ten years, and a psychopathic kid has inspired an entire generation to become laughing killers. This dark, hopeless cesspit of a city is exactly the kind of urban hellhole that would inspire a man to don a costume and pick fights with a being from outer space.
With the experiments taking place in Arkham, Suicide Squad seems a logical next step, and after the amount of death and destruction shown over the course of the two seasons, it makes perfect sense that a young boy would form a partnership with an older man and go on to die in a brightly coloured costume.
There’s a constant sense of bleak nostalgia for the eighties in Gotham – not for the heyday of anthem rock and Brat Pack movies, but for the riots and paranoia and sitting on the brink of war. The punk scene seems to be alive and kicking, moshing with all the angst and aimless aggression you’d need to become Affleck’s Batman.
It’s needlessly dark, brooding and violent. The resolutions are swift and unsentimental, characterisations flat and built more on history and familiarity than words or action. These people are heroes because the plot and perspective tells us so, even if the events tell a different story.
It’s a society where investigations are conducted by asking local whores and mob bosses for the answer, where criminal masterminds trust their 14 year old niece with their leverage, and most certainly the kind of world where a fight can be ended by the mere mention of someone’s mother.
It’s also exactly the kind of world in which Pa Kent would rather die than expose his son’s secret.
There’s no sense of altruism in Gotham or in the DCEU. The only driving force is ego, perhaps psychosis. Even Jim Gordon has been deconstructed to be a man who does good things out of a controlling obsession rather than duty or a strong moral compass. The compass has broken. How is Batman supposed to find his way now, without his old friend to show him the line?
In a world where ‘the last good cop in Gotham’ is a killer, Batfleck is the only hero the city could ever hope for. And that just about makes Gotham worthwhile. Just.