Gotham has been a subject of long-term criticism for violating so many of the key Batman elements and while the criticism is justified unless the story was never really about Batman.
Whether you like it or not, the truth is that Gotham is unlike anything that we see in the conventional Batman canon. True that his parents were killed, and there is Jim Gordon and of course the town called Gotham where an Alfred nurtures the orphaned billionaire, but, that’s exactly where similarities end. Gotham’s characters are more hardened, rugged and nastier than anything that we have seen in Batman versions.
What if we say that there is a reason behind all this? Haters love to claim that it is just because the showrunners are clueless about what they are doing. In any case who the heck wants to watch a show based on a tiny Batman? What if we tell you that the show is different because it is actually a different show and not one about Batman? What if everyone is dark, grim and mean because this is simply not the planet Earth? What if this could be Earth-3?
Let’s make it simpler for you. What if we say that this is not a story about Batman’s origin? What if Gotham is a show based on the origin of Owlman?
If you have no clue about Owlman, then let’s tell you that he is nearly what his name suggests, a much darker Bruce Wayne compared to the one who is known as Batman. Some of the versions show him as Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce’s brother who had died in most other canons, but, assuming he survived and in other stories he is the Evil Bruce Wayne. He lives in a dark world, and things are chaotic. There is no hope or light to take on the dark, and the heroes are the villains.
The Gotham City of Earth-3 is dictated by Owlman who employs darkness and fear. In a way, he is just like Batman, however, someone who rules by the gun over the Gotham citizens and not just some of them.
His looks are similar, and backstory is the same as Batman, well almost. One of the Owlman versions is absolutely similar to what we suggest, and it shows Thomas Wayne Jr. getting rescued by a Court of Owls and then trained and fed by them to become a perfect killing machine.
Heard that before, haven’t you?
Let’s talk about another disturbing set of events. The show features Wayne Enterprises as a purely evil conglomerate ruled by the Court of Owls who are in fact a subsidiary of The League of Assassins in the comic books, but, while we see Wayne Enterprises occasionally being subject to misappropriation and sabotage, it is by and large shown to be an ethical business that aims to help people and make money.
We saw that even when Bruce’s parents were there, Wayne Inc was the source of funding for Indian Hill, a secret grouping of super villains, which bred monsters below the labs of Arkham Asylum. Gotham shows Arkham to be a residence of monsters which creates them. Just like Earth-3, Gotham is all about darkness and evil.
For example, Jim Gordon is shown to be a really honest man in the comic books, however, here he has killed a huge number of people, rather murdered them in cold blood. He is among the cruelest guys on the show, yet he is revered as a hero. On the behest of the Penguin, he killed a mayor (Penguin is Jim’s bestie). He also has a blow hot blow cold father-son tie with the mob leader. His former girlfriend is the kingpin of the Gotham underworld, and since Barbara and Jim are not a couple anymore, there is hardly a question of Babs Gordon or Batgirl being born.
This is all even before we discuss how Gotham has destroyed one of the most affectionate characters in the Batman ensemble, physician Leslie Thompkins, who was recently shown to have injected herself with the Alice Tetch virus. The comics show Leslie as one of the people closest to Wayne, maybe the only one apart from Alfred who is capable of refusing and even going against Batman when she feels it right. More than anyone else in Gotham City, Leslie Thompkins is the epitome of morality, but, in Gotham, she is more than willing to be a part of the darkness like everyone else.
Since everything in Gotham is dark, absolutely dark, even the villains are introduced earlier, and that suggests that this world has gone down the wrong, extremely wrong path. Earth-3’s villains are not that much of a trouble as Owlman arrests or kills them as per will. Since Earth 3 is such a deeply rooted evil place, it becomes obvious that Gotham’s villains take center-stage sooner than other Earths. Most of these villains run amok even before Bruce Wayne becomes an adult. Therefore, we have ample proof that this is not our cherished Batman saga.
Therefore, it is clear that Gotham is spinning its own yarn and the show’s latest episode underlined the fact that this is not a Batman story. Bruce Wayne is involved in serial murder, and he no longer has the emotions about the murder of his parents. He is serving the Court of Owls and might be mentored by Ra’s Al Ghul. He doesn’t aim to help the Gotham City people, rather to rule the city. It is an evil turn of events, and you can accept it only if you accept that Gotham was about an Evil Bruce Wayne.
David Mazouz won’t be donning the cape and the cowl because he isn’t the Batman. Season 1, Episode 1 onwards Gotham has been developing a Bruce Wayne devoid of emotions and obedient to Court of Owls. The show is never about Batman, but, it is all about Owlman.