In the Gotham Globe, Gotham Times, Gotham City Gazette, and Daily Gotham, every day is big news these days. The fictional city of the DC universe, home to Batman, his cohorts and his nemesis, has more stuff than a tool belt can handle.
Next year is Justice League, the same movie that came out in 2017, it’s just not a movie and it’s not the same. This is the Zack Snyder cut, a version who died when he was replaced by Joss Whedon during production, and a four-hour episodic rework that fans have been campaigning to watch.
Robert Pattinson is frowning, disheveled (and frankly in need of a bath) in the black trailers for the upcoming movie, The Batman. A narrative podcast, Batman Unburied, aims to delve into Bruce Wayne’s psychology on Spotify next year. And the 2022 movie The Flash will have not one but two vigilant knights: Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton play Batman from two different timelines.
What about the other usual Gotham suspects? Batwoman launches a second season on Hotstar in January, with Bruce Wayne’s cousin Kate Kane fighting crime (and an evil twin, Beth). The Suicide Squad reunites on the movie screen in August, hoping to tell a story in the style of a gritty 1970s war movie. A confirmed, but currently untitled, spinoff show aims to focus on police corruption in the same Gotham City as Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight.
See how the fictional city of Gotham has been envisioned on screen over the years
Meanwhile, there are rumors that Catwoman will have her own show (on an undisclosed network); Batgirl is on her way to getting a movie; the long-awaited movie Nightwing, about Bruce Wayne’s frequent collaborator Dick Grayson, finally hired a director. Even the trusty Batmobile is busy. Production has begun on Batwheels, an animated show aimed at preschoolers, about iconic DC vehicles fighting crime in Gotham City.
The story goes that when Batman debuted in Detective Comics in 1939, his hometown had no name. Creator Bill Finger christened it more than a year later, calling it Gotham after seeing an advertisement for a jeweler in the phone book. The name gave the city an identity: it had a port, museums, parks, petty streets, nursing homes, and prisons. In 1966, when Batman was released on television, Gotham was a bright, sunny city, where the Caped Crusader fought crime during the day.
Since then, Wayne’s world has grown darker, increasingly decaying, as generations of comics lovers entered the adult world. The stories have gone beyond good versus evil, as the superhero fanbase spread beyond geeky teens. The new characters have gotten more complex, as women and non-white fans came together.
If Gotham seems complicated these days – extended universes, spin-offs, standalone stories, parallel character arcs, reboots, and countless resurrections – it’s only because the city’s mythology is getting richer. Gotham, borrowing the Joker phrase from 2008’s The Dark Knight, has “introduced a bit of anarchy” into the system.
There is no longer a definitive story to return to. Batman is no longer a solo operator. Supervillains aren’t always the bad guys. And it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.