Casting is heating up for Fox’s young Batman pilot “Gotham,” as Warner Bros. announced it has added four to the cast of allies (and enemies) in the life of young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Robin Lord Taylor (“Another Earth”) will join the series as the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot, Sean Pertwee (“Doomsday”) as butler Alfred Pennyworth, Erin Richards (“Being Human”) has been cast as Jim Gordon’s fiancée Barbara Kean, and Zabryna Guevara (“Burn Notice”) will be Gordon’s boss Captain Essen.
While we’re still waiting for the planned casting of the series’ Joker, Riddler and Catwoman, the character the character descriptions offer some juicy hints as to what viewers might expect in upcoming “Gotham” storylines:
The Penguin: No Man’s Land
Warner Bros. is describing Taylor’s character as a low-level criminal and psychopath with the “brains of a chess grandmaster and the morals of a jackal.” What better place to show off that mix of madness and manipulation than in an adaptation of the sprawling, 1999 event that saw Gotham hit by a massive earthquake, one that subsequently put Cobblepot on top as the boss of bosses.
Using his connections and burgeoning clout, Penguin is able to bring in supplies to the abandoned Gotham, ultimately using his profits from his black market dealings to rise to the top of the Gotham underworld.
Alfred: The Man Who Trains Batman
Pertwee’s Alfred is being described as young Bruce’s fiercely protective guardian, “a tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London.” In “Batman: Earth One,” the character is given a similar background, serving in the Royal Marines and returning to Wayne Manor to take care of young Bruce following the death of Thomas and Martha.
But instead of simply preparing soup and driving young Master Wayne to riding tennis lessons, this Alfred teaches Bruce how to fight, grounding some of the globe-spanning education that the pre-Batman receives in most other interpretations.
Barbara Keane: Mother to a Murderer
Keane’s future Mrs. Gordon is “a sophisticated emergency room doctor” who’s loyal to her cop husband, and his rock in a city beset with corruption and dangerous villains.
But what if evil hits close to home? In the recent storyline “The Black Mirror,” readers learned that James and Barbara’s son James Jr. was a tiny sociopath, ultimately committed to an institution as a teenager with almost Joker-levels of crazy. What better story to expose the tensions on Gotham’s top cop and his wife than one that brings the horrors of Gotham home?
Captain Essen: The Other Mrs. Gordon
We can see a potential love triangle developing between Barbara and Jim Gordon’s boss, if we’re sticking with classic comic continuity. And that could spell trouble for his marriage to Barbara as well as his ability to remain above corruption in the GCPD. And this could all lead to Captain Essen being the mother of the future Batgirl.
While “Gotham” recasts Captain Essen as Gordon’s boss — a master manipulator and Machiavellian politician — we can see a bit of classic graphic novel “Batman: Year One” playing out, with the tensions of job and troubles at home drawing Gordon and Essen closer together. And it’s their affair that ultimately makes the straight-arrow Gordon a blackmail victim by some of the GCPD’s dirtiest, in the comics.
Will any of these storylines play out as they do on the page? Or will “Gotham” forge its own path? We’ll have to stay tuned as the series premieres this Fall on Fox.