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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Static Thoughts - 10 Superheroes We Could See in Gotham Season 2

Edited by Robert Beach 

Gotham is DC Comics show for Fox that focus on the world of Gotham City. The show is formatted as a Batman prequel story exploring the origins of a lot of his famous villains and allies. So far, we’ve seen several Batman villains make appearance on the series like Penguin and Black Mask as well as some major masterminds and crime lords like Don Falcone or the Dollmaker; however, the show has been slowly shifting in tone and focus with the upcoming season packing a more comic book-y punch than season 1. 

This is probably due to Gotham’s floundering sense of identity coupled with the blockbuster success of more faithful adaptations like Arrow, Flash, and Agents of SHIELD. Given this, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing actual superheroes show up on Gotham. Already, a younger version of Azrael has been confirmed for season 2 and future heroic allies like Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen have been established on the show. So I thought of 10 superheroes we might see in Gotham season 2.  

Black Lightning is a weird entry on this list in that he concurrently makes a lot of sense, yet he is highly unlikely. The character has a long history with Batman serving on Batman’s international operation team the Outsiders, and is one of the premier black heroes of the DCU. What’s more, one of the most successful episodes of Gotham season 1 was the 2-parter with the villain The Electrocutioner, so having Black Lightning be one of his victims returned would be an easy story point to follow up on. 

Additionally, Black Lightning’s character has always been grounded in fighting the evils of poverty and inequality, for he could easily find a recurring spot on Gotham given the show’s emphasis on those themes. Why I don’t think we’ll see him any time soon is that the show is already culling its non-white cast, and I get the upsetting sense the network ethos is that Lucius Fox is all the diversity Gotham needs. 

Zatanna would be a real easy adaptation for the show by the nature of her powers and her history with Bruce Wayne. In the comics, Bruce met Zatanna when he was still in training to be Batman, so it feels almost like a prerequisite that she appear in a Batman prequel show like Gotham. It’s also not like her powers are all that difficult to realize as her backwards-speaking magic usually doesn’t come with energy effects or the like. 

The big question about whether or not they’d introduce Zatanna on Gotham comes down to how out-there the show is willing to get. Season 1 had bizarre elements involving lightning guns, hypnotism, Frankenstein operations, and super-steroid drugs, but magic is a whole other can of worms. Still, if they wanted to go down that route, there are plenty of great Batman stories to be told with a more mystical tint. Zatanna could make a good foil for Catwoman’s relationship with Bruce.

Another long shot I admit, but the Phantom Stranger is one of my favorite characters, and I’d be loath not to include him on this list. The Phantom Stranger is a quasi-mystical character that just exists beyond the pale of time and space. He’s wandered the Earth for eons, keeping history in line and helping out in various weird paranormal situations. 

He’s one of the few characters to maintain his mystique since his inception and part of that is that he seems to be genuinely omniscient. That all encompassing knowledge is why Phantom Stranger would be a great addition to the Gotham cast. The whole show is predicated around dropping hints and character names about future Batman stories, so having a character who’s whole point is to vaguely hint at the future makes a ton of sense. 

The Hood might best be described as a superhero secret agent. He started life as an English vigilante that Batman coordinated with during the Knightfall storyline. It was barely an appearance, for he would’ve languished in obscurity if not for modern Batman legend Grant Morrison. Morrison resurrected the character as part of his Batman Inc. storyline, re-imagining him as a government spy and superhero rather than just a simple English vigilante. 

I mainly bring him up because I absolutely love his costume, and the promise of getting more British heroes on screen strikes me as a very good idea. If the Hood were to come to Gotham, it would most likely have to be in his capacity as a super spy. The show has already introduced elements relating to global espionage with Alfred’s past, and the blossoming storyline about foreign interests in Gotham City would be a perfect fit for the Hood. 

Madame Xanadu is another mystic character, this time one who moves freely between publishers. Xanadu is a fortune teller, usually relying on tarot cards though she’s also sported a crystal ball on occasion. She’s most similar to the DC Character John Constantine in that she doesn’t really have a publishing home; sometimes appearing through the adult publishing line Vertigo while other times she pops up as a member of the mainstream DC universe. Like Phantom Stranger, she’s mainly on the list because of Gotham’s status as a prequel show. Having a literal fortune teller in the cast to help point characters towards various great destinys and future storylines would be an easy way to explain away a lot of plot convenience. 

Another long shot is Hourman, though not as long as you might think.  Hourman was a Golden Age hero from the ‘30s and ‘40s. The idea behind his character was that he had developed a super-steroid drug that granted him super strength, speed, and agility for 1 hour. He and his son have bopped around the DC universe for years along with his steroid drug called Miraclo. Despite his obscurity, Hourman does have a connection to Batman. 

It was eventually revealed that Miraclo was used as part of the base development for the super-steroid Venom, the drug that powered Bat foe Bane, the man who broke the Bat. Now we’ve already seen proto-Venom in the Gotham season 1 episode ‘Viper,’ so I wouldn’t be surprised if the series has more plans for the substance. What’s more, Hourman’s chemical engineering company could play a unique role in the Wayne Enterprise’s conspiracy, especially given Bruce’s grandfather Patrick Wayne made a lot his money in chemical engineering. 

The Club of Heroes, alternatively known as the Batmen of Many Nations, were a group of global heroes who had all been inspired in some way by Batman. Obviously, they couldn’t appear on Gotham in this exact form, at least not without some creative hoop jumping. We’ll leave that for the final entry on this list. And yet, I still feel like the various members of this list could easily fit into the world of Gotham either individually or in a group. 

Heroes like the British Batman the Knight, Argentina’s El Gaucho, or Australia’s Dark Ranger could make great one-off appearances on Gotham. They’re all solid heroes to bring in for a fun, foreign adventure dealing with political intrigue, assassinations, or the like without needing to make the hero a reoccurring character. There’s also the very likely possibility that Gotham will try and continue its focus on Bruce Wayne during his world tour training. Having him go from superhero to superhero to learn new skills would be an interesting approach to that section of his origin story. 

The Spectre is another Golden Age hero only this one is supernatural in origin. Initially envisioned as a heroic version of a vengeful ghost, he was later re-imagined into the literal embodiment of God’s Vengeance. Bound to a mortal spirit, the Spectre’s purpose is to wonder the Earth dealing out brutal, violent, and ironic punishment upon the guilty. He’s one of the most interesting heroes to see thrown into the moral mess that is Gotham City if only just for the amazing amount of visceral carnage he can inflict.  

One of my favorite comic mini-series of all time is Tales of the Unexpected, a series composed entirely of the Spectre moving through a single apartment building in Gotham handing out grizzly and horrific punishments.  Aside from simply broadening Gotham’s horizons by introducing a mystic element, Spectre would provide a moralistic counterpoint to the show’s core dynamic. So much of Gotham  is based around Gordon’s idealism challenging Bullock’s acceptance of corruption as the price of doing business. It’d be interesting to pit Gordon against the more extreme vision of his own ideology. Additionally, Spectre could work as more of an anti-hero or a force of nature; someone the police struggle against even though he does help them.  Finally, Gotham has already introduced the character of Crispus Allen, one of the mortal souls the Spectre has bonded to in the past. 

The Question is one of those comic book characters that’s an amazing character design without much of anything to hang it on. Since the character’s inception by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, The Question has gone through innumerable changes, every one of which would work for Gotham.  Classically, he was a Batman-type vigilante grounded in Randian objectivism, but he’s also worked as an iconoclastic talk show host taking his vitriol to the streets or as a sort of street shaman.  

Most folks know him from Justice League Unlimited where Jeffrey Combs portrayed him as a conspiracy-obsessed nut.  Most recently Renee Montoya, a character that’s already appear on Gotham, took up the faceless mask of The Question.  Really though, the only thing Gotham would need to do to bring this character to life is through a face mask on a character, give them a fedora and smoke, and then make-up whatever they wanted from there. 

Yes, Thomas Wayne was Batman for a time. I’m not even referring to some obscure older comic or an imaginary tale; Thomas Wayne was Batman for most of 2014 and a bit of 2013 too. It all goes back to DC’s maxi-series Flashpoint, the event that rebooted the entire DC universe for the 4th or 5th time depending on how you count it. As part of the event, DC released various mini-serieses exploring the world of the Flashpoint universe.  The most popular of this comics was one that explored how, in the Flashpoint universe, Bruce Wayne had been killed by Joe Chill, so his father became Batman and his mother became the Joker. 

DC has been obsessed with the popularity of this series since it happened, so when they launched Earth-2 as part of the New 52 branding initiative, they quickly revived the Thomas Wayne Batman as the Batman of Earth-2.  While I don’t think we’ll see Earth-2 on Gotham anytime soon, there are a ton of signs pointing at Thomas Wayne wearing the cape and cowl before Bruce did. The end of Gotham season 1 revealed Thomas Wayne’s secret Batcave. and the show has been hinting at there being more to his character for a while now. The revelation that Thomas Wayne was Batman before he died or even that he’s still alive and being Batman would be a dynamite reveal. It'll be great for the show and fit with a lot of the series “Sins of the father” conspiracy nonsense they’ve been cribbing from Amazing Spider-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

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