If you’re watching the Gotham series, the TV show that sets the stage for the Batman origin story, a little background is guaranteed to do you a whole lot of good. Bear in mind the fact that Batman is a 70-year- old story that has been told from almost every imaginable angle possible. Over the years plot lines have changed, crossed, vanished, and reemerged. Actors, authors and illustrators have made their marks on these characters, tweaking and twisting their stories along the way.
Some things however, have remained consistent. One of those things is Gotham itself, the dark sinister city that serves as the backdrop for the Batman comics, TV shows and motion pictures. Read on to learn about the crazy characters and attributes of Gotham, the city, the show, and the stories. This will help you to understand things like why the Riddler is evil, how the Mad Hatter ended up in the city to begin with, and most importantly, why Bruce Wayne, shining son of Gotham, transitioned into the Dark Knight we’ve all come to know and love. Here are 15 zany Gotham facts to add to your collection.
15. Oswald Cobblepot’s Got A Bottle Cap In His Shoe
Quite literally following in the footsteps of Stella Adler, Robin Lord Taylor, the actor who plays Penguin on the new Gotham series, is hobbling around on a bottle cap in order to accurately portray the Penguin’s deformed gait. This bottle cap does so much more than remind the actor of which foot he is supposed to be hobbling on. It also serves as a reminder for all of the pain that penguin has endured throughout his childhood and life.
Knowing that the pain of his walk was inflicted by none other than fellow criminal Fish Mooney also fuels the actor throughout the filming. What we all need to understand is that the Penguin’s pain goes back way further than his criminal career. Bullieed in prep school and deprived of a father figure, the odd looking Oswald Cobblepot was forced to figure out life all on his own. As history unfolds we will no doubt begin to understand the psyche of the psychopath who stalks the night steadily brooding with more and more anger.
14. The Ever Brooding Benjamin Mckenzie Keeps Chasing After Alfred’s Girl
If you’re going the straight comic book to TV route you might have already noticed this and are wondering how it will pan out. Benjamin McKenzie, the actor who has breathed new life into the present-day image of a young James Gordon, has already wasted a great deal of energy chasing after the wrong girl. While he feels he is in love with Lee Tompkins, diehard Batman fans know that it is the mentally unstable Barbara Kean who eventually weds and gives birth to all three of James Gordon’s children. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred is the one who eventually captures the heart of Dr. Lee Tompkins, a woman whose conscience often won’t allow her to date a fella with a dark side.
This new glimpse into her past, one where we see her jump from cop to criminal so comfortably, actually serves to enhance her comic book persona. While she is a serial good guy, she is known to treat anyone who comes under her care, be they villain, hero, or something in between. With such a kind and genuine heart beating in her chest, it’s no wonder Jim is smitten with Dr. Lee and continues to follow through on the dead-end relationship.
Alas, his bleeding heart, determination, and ambition have led him to the right Batcave but he’s tuned into the wrong bat station. There is, of course, an alternate resolution. Could it be that Gotham series producers are taking cues from hit TV show The Walking Dead by drastically changing the plotline between the comics and the show in order to always keep the audience guessing?
13. Enthusiastic Batman Fans Keep Stealing Gotham’s Welcome Sign
Nottinghamshire, located in the East Midlands of England, is a popular tourist attraction because it is said to be the region that inspired the legend of Robin Hood. Visitors to the area are welcome to check out Sherwood Forest and the church where Maid Marian and Robin Hood were said to be married. They can also partake in Robin Hood themed festivals and/or activities.
On the way to Sherwood Forest sits another, lesser-known but still legendary locale— the Village of Gotham. This tiny village is nothing like the Gotham of the comic books. It has no towering skyscrapers, houses no known mafia members, and its population consists of just under 1,600 residents. That said, this tiny town has had quite the impact on ancient literature.
As rumor would have it, when the residents of Gotham village caught wind that notoriously wicked King John, a character from the Robin Hood legend who was indeed real, was on his way to pay them all a visit, they reacted in a very unique way. They pretended to go insane. At the time, it was believed that insanity was contagious so King John avoided the village of Gotham at all costs, redirecting his route into Robin Hood’s now notorious Sherwood Forest. The story of an entire town gone mad however stuck and this tiny village of Gotham inspired many a fictional locale in literary works to come. Imagine that. An entire town going crazy and to think that today, even people who visit the village lose a few of their marbles along the way and wind up engaging in minor criminal activity. Want proof? The Gotham welcome sign was recently stolen three times in a row.
12. Gotham Is Actually New York City
Like many creative masterpieces, the Batman comic books, and later the cinematic productions inspired by them, were fictional stories comprised of fragments of truth. While the madness of the people in the village of Gotham, England certainly served as a bit of background noise, it was the colorful characters of New York standing in stark contrast against the city’s often gloomy backdrop that breathed life into the original series. In fact, in the original comics, Batman lives in New York City until the 47th issue, when the name is officially changed to the fictional name of Gotham.
New Yorkers and urban enthusiasts might recognize that name however because it is a long-standing nickname of New York. More recent developments and even cartoonist maps have put modern-day Gotham in other centrally located United States cities, especially a few in New Jersey but because the Gotham series deals with origin, New York is the most correct answer for setting. This positioning, along with its timing, also explains the impact of the mafia, the torturous conditions of the asylums, and the horrific science experiments conducted on human beings. Sadly, all of this is a part of New York City’s shadowy past however exaggerated it may appear on screen.
11. The Riddles Are What Make The Riddler Evil
For most comic book Supervillains, a personality quirk is, at best, a signature or symbol of the character. Riddler however, breaks that mold. His personality quirk, telling riddles, is so much more than a signature. In reality it is the entire basis for his evil nature.
During the Gotham series, we meet Riddler as an adult and his origin story begins to unfold before our eyes while he already has an alter ego. As such, what avid watchers of the series might not know is that his alter ego would never exist if he would just stop telling riddles. Had you met Mr. Nigma a.k.a. Riddler as a child, you would know that his alter ego turned up after he lifted the answers to a series of riddles from his teacher in order to gain classroom fame. Those stolen riddles infiltrated his mind, almost like a curse as a result of his bad actions.
In the years that followed that theft, the emerald green clad antagonist began developing ego mania, bragging on his high IQ and using it as a way to view himself superior to others. In the comics, he makes several attempts to commit crime without utilizing riddles, puzzles, and clues. All of these attempts fail. In fact, he only relaxes from his life of crime during the short time when he loses his ability to tell riddles. This could be why he only found the strength to commit his first murder on the Gotham series after leaving a clue. After his second murder, we learn that the person leaving the clues is in fact, the alter ego he has been trying to get away from. Because he is reliant on the riddles, he is reliant on his alter ego and eventually that sinister side overtakes him.
10. Fish Mooney And Daryl Dixon Have A Whole Lot In Common
What could a fish out of water and a crossbow wielding zombie killer have in common? In the comic book world, pretty much everything. You might not have noticed that the Gotham series is crossing lines with The Walking Dead but in a great many ways they are. One cue they have definitely taken from The Walking Dead producers is the idea of inventing a character that does not exist in the comic books at all and building a universe that is distinctly unique because of the impression the newly invented character has upon it.
For this reason, Fish Mooney is Gotham city’s Daryl Dixon. Her sheer might and influence has no doubt changed the storyline of Batman completely and things are only just beginning. From ripping out her own eye and taking down a notorious mob boss single-handedly, there’s no denying the fact that Fish Mooney and her calculated walk have brought more insanity than anyone could’ve ever imagined to the screen. In fact, you might say Fish Mooney has changed Batman forever. Yes that was a little wordplay on an old Batman film. Peppering T.V. shows with a mix of the traditional comic and seasoning that mix with new characters is a formula that definitely works. Both Fish Mooney and Darryl Dixon are turning out to be fan favorites despite their non-existence in the comics.
9. The Wolf From The Walking Dead Strutted Straight Onto The Set Of Gotham As The Mad Hatter
We knew things would get a little bit Strange when the maniacal doctor running Arkham began reading fairy tales to patients who had forgotten their past lives. One of his favorites was Alice in Wonderland and now we are seeing how that fairy tale is intersecting with the Batman premise and the show. It’s always interesting to watch what happens on screen when worlds collide. For Gotham, that means many things.
First, several T.V. series actors are crossing shows and platforms. Most notably, we’ve seen more than one actor show up from Benjamin McKenzie’s old stomping ground— The O.C. Now, as inspiration for the Mad Hatter, The Walking Dead actor Benedict Samuel has us all hypnotized with his twisted sister and hat full of tricks. It certainly is a “Mad City” (as the title from season one, episode 3 would have it). From wolves to bats, from Gotham to Wonderland, is anyone else wondering where the rabbit hole will lead us next?
8. The Real-Life Arkham Was More Than Just A Little Bit Batty
If you are one who believes in curses, the story of the mental hospital that inspired the Batman comic books might intrigue you. The Danvers State Hospital For The Mentally Insane, previously located in Massachusetts and officially destroyed in the early ’90s, employed all of the controversial treatments that later inadvertently linked scientists to madness. Things like shock treatment and the mind-boggling surgery known as a lobotomy were all part of the daily routine.
In its heyday, the 60 year period between the late 1870s and the early 1940s, this particular mental hospital stood out, not for its horrific treatment of mental patients since that was commonplace at the time, but for its astounding architectural imprint. Prior to the construction of Danvers Hospital For The Criminally Insane, the world had never seen such sprawling hallways, rolling acres, slanted arches, towering Gothic windows and baffling underground tunnels on the grounds of such a facility. For this reason alone, Danvers went on to influence not just Batman but virtually every horror movie you can think of that depicts this type of mental institution.
Even more eerie than what went on during its time of operation is what happened after the building was essentially destroyed. Developers demolished most of what was left of the hospital but they left the cemetery behind it intact. This means the bodies of the dead mental patients who were once experimented on in some of the most horrific ways imaginable are now buried in the backyard of a seemingly benign residential district. Yikes!
7. There’s A Science To Why Gotham Looks Gloomy
Over the course of more than 70 years, Batman has been everything from campy to adventurous to downright terrifying but one thing has remained the same – – – Gotham. The perpetual gloom that hovers over this iconic city isn’t just a metaphorical dark cloud, it’s one you can actually see and there’s a science to it. Did you know that mere centuries ago, cities didn’t have that smoggy, cloud covered look? In fact, the City of New York abounded with forest greenery and… pigs. That’s right, pigs used to run rampant all over the streets of New York.
Industrialization, something that was big at the onset of the Batman comic books, impacted the look and the feel of earth’s cities. It was the combination of high-rises and pollution that gave way to this dark, sinister look we are now used to seeing in most cities. At the time, since the look was new, it is entirely possible that it was exaggerated for the sake of the comics and now serves as one of the many Batman signature facades. It is notable to mention that some cities are much, much darker than others and a lack of sunlight is scientifically known to adversely alter attitudes and moods, leading to mental instability, hostility, violence, and even suicide in the most extreme cases.
6. The Actors Were Kept In The Dark At Their Auditions
While we’re tackling issues of the dark, the Dark Knight and the dark city he dwells in, it’s important that we note that many of the actors were kept in the dark at their auditions- they were in at least a proverbial version of darkness. According to Robin Lord Taylor, a.k.a. the new penguin, trying out for the Gotham series wasn’t such an easy task since many of the actors and actresses had no idea what roles they were auditioning for. In fact, the actress currently portraying a young Selina Kyle claims that she thought she was trying out to play the role of a girl named Lucy.
This is a tactic that is fairly new but has been instrumental in several modern movies and TV series. Some show producers are even going as far as to not share with the actors which of them will live and which will die. This has been a notorious blueprint for The Walking Dead and it seems to be keeping the actors and their fans at the edge of their seats. Will Gotham take yet another cue from The Walking Dead and leave their actors wondering whether or not they will be killed off each season?
5. Batman Is Number Six On The Forbes Fictional 15 List At An Estimated Worth of $9.2 Billion
In the battle of bad boy philanthropist billionaires, Batman’s stock is definitely up, at least according to Forbes, who estimated that an increase in the demand for defense weaponry would skyrocket Bruce Wayne’s net worth, leaving him even richer for future generations. On the fictional finance list, playboy Bruce jets into the top ten at number six with approximately $9.2 billion in the bank. Of course, this leaves him still two notches behind another billionaire favorite, Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.
Moneysupermarket.com designed a fun infographic that circulated the web at a high velocity when they attempted to estimate how much it would cost to actually be Batman. The end result, surprisingly, was just $682 million. If both of these calculations are within the ballpark figures, this would leave Bruce Wayne with a surplus of more than 8 billion even after spending the necessary fortune it takes to fight crime every night in the threads and weaponry of a caped crusader. Talk about a charmed life!
4. Mr. Freeze Is An Extra-Terrestrial
At one point during the Gotham series, Dr. Strange is accused of reanimating ice pelting villain Mr. Fries (later pronounced freeze) and sending him through the streets of Gotham in a space suit. If this remark led you to wonder why on earth he was wearing a spacesuit, you might care to learn that he has outer space origins and this is really all Neil Armstrong’s fault.
Way back in comic book history, shortly after the moon landing, Batman and subsequently other famous comic book characters as well, took a break from fighting crime on earth and headed into outer space. This was a goofy time for good old Brucey. He met up with a lot of green villains and participated in some pretty stereotypical spacey stuff but alas, some bad did come of his time spent in space. An arch villain by the name of Mr. Zero, who was bent on encasing Batman and Robin in blocks of ice, was introduced and he made the transition with Batman back to Earth.
Somewhere along the journey, Mr. Zero’s name was switched out and he began going by the moniker Mr. Freeze. His space origin story also hit the cutting room floor and was later replaced with the whole saving the dying wife scenario. Oddly, modern writers clipped a ton of Mr. Zero’s original plotlines but they let him keep the wacky space suit.
3. Jada Pinkett Smith Wrote A Comic Book Of Her Own
You may know Jada as the fierce actress portraying the “never let ’em see you sweat” character of Fish Mooney on the Gotham series but here’s a zany fact you may not know. As it turns out, when Jada’s not showing her best side to the camera, she’s in the lab crafting comic books of her own. According to a recent interview with People Magazine, Mrs. Smith wrote a major comic book in her 20s and even signed on with a publishing company. The comic told the story of a tenacious African American female who, while at the crossroads between life and death, struck a deal for redemption. Had the company Jada signed with not gone bankrupt, who knows where that saga might have led the actress… Would she have grown up to play Fish in the Gotham series or would she have catapulted to fame as Menace, the character she dreamed up all those years ago? Stranger things have certainly occurred.
2. Teen Catwoman Is Into Hardcore Parkour
Parkour, the art of getting from point A to point B the fastest way possible, or at least the coolest way possible, is a relatively new endeavor. Stunts have existed for quite some time but Parkour combines elements of gymnastics with martial arts to bring the stunt arena to a whole new level of style, safety, and individuality. We’ve seen this artistic take on martial arts leave its mark on modern day dance, sports, and even music but who would’ve expected it to touch down at Comic Con?
When asked how she prepared to play the role of Catwoman, Camren Bicondova, the actress who danced her way into our hearts and later our T.V. screens, explained that she did so by taking Parkour classes. No word yet on whether she’ll try her hand at MMA or tricking but cheers to Camren for bringing a fresh new approach to the comic book and cinema classics.
1. All of Gotham’s Crimes Are Bruce Wayne’s Responsibility
The Gotham series does an amazing job of telling a coming of age story about a billion dollar boy who loses his parents to a seemingly senseless act of murder only to learn too late that it was all a setup. However, as the presence of the Mad Hatter is subliminally added, the rabbit hole goes down much deeper. This poor little rich orphan inherited all of the wealth in his city and none of the power he needs to control that wealth. This is the comic book equivalent to a prince who inherits the throne of a morally and financially bankrupt country. All of the responsibility for Gotham’s sins fall inadvertently onto Bruce Wayne a.k.a. “The Son of Gotham” but he really doesn’t deserve any of the blame.
In order to truly understand the motives of the Batman you must look, not just at his background but also at his inheritance. Wayne Enterprises, the company he currently owns 51% of, encompasses not just the defense sector of the city but other departments as well including food, medical, automotive, mining, construction, shipping, steel, pharma, research, aviation, electric, television, and press. This means Bruce Wayne technically even owns the media.
Unfortunately, the existence of a secret council, combined with a surplus of smog and pollution, a seemingly contagious variation of insanity, an overbearing mob presence, and a power struggle within the power structure of the city hinders the Gotham’s ability to retain any luster. While others would see this situation and simply give up hope, Bruce Wayne took a different route by becoming the Batman. What could be zanier than that?