This past Saturday at Wondercon in Anaheim Ca., some of the cast such as Ben McKenzie, Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith as well as producer John Stephens, were in attendance and did a panel and some interviews with the media. I took part in some round table interviews with the cast and in this interview, John Stephens gave us some insight on what we can expect from the future of Gotham and who not to expect to be a resident of Gotham.
Q: Doing a Batman show without Batman, is that strange?
Stephens: I don’t know?…Maybe? No, no, it feels like we never really approached it in that way. We never really approached that idea that we are doing a Batman show. We actually felt like at the beginning, we were telling the story of the city that creates Batman. If you’re going to watch that progression of…if you want to see Jim Gordon fighting a war and you want to see that at the end of the day, he might end up losing that war but end up training the war hero. So, the fact of never seeing a guy put on a mask and a cape, actually never figured into our conception of what the show is really about.
Q: Were you a comic book fan?
Stephens: Yeah. My awakening for many people of my generation was reading [Frank] Miller’s Daredevil run. That’s where you saw that moment where you’re going ‘oh, these are actually an incredible like, he dealt into the material like nobody really had.’ He actually made many of us gen-x-ers comic book fans for life. I hadn’t been a Batman fan before he actually moved over a did the Dark Knight stuff, it really turned me onto it.
Q: As far as introducing characters, how did you go about who you wanted to introduce at an early time in Bruce’s life?
Stephens: A lot of that we just kind of feel by gut. When we mapped up our initial season, we have stories like arching and then how you’re going to do the climax. So it was the feeling of if you have like a heavy duty Penguin story, then we wanted Penguin to take a rest for awhile and then we knew like ‘let’s bring in Jonathan Crane for a two-episode arch.’ Or like some of those things are like thrown in almost like Easter eggs for the fans, like the fact of having Tommy Elliot be like the bully in an episode, I think that fans are going to get that. People can also watch the episode and not know who Tommy Elliot is or who he’s going to become and still enjoy it as a story. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s not science (laughs).
Q: Do you feel like you have to kind of pay attention to what else is going on in the universe of comic books? What’s being brought to TV and how they’re doing it?
Stephens: To a certain degree. What we know is how we are doing something different in a way. I do think all the shows that spring out from comic books carve out a different territory. Like our show is different from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ different from ‘Flash,’ in a sense that we don’t have anybody with a sense of true superpowers in our show and we never will which is why you’ll never see Man-Bat on our show. But the question for us is how close we can get to that line without crossing it. The goal is to get as close as we possibly can and there’s times where might have walked over that line a little bit too much like the episode called ‘Viper’ which is like a venom prototype, which I think we got a little bit too close to that line, we didn’t really walk across it quite as well as we wanted to but we will continue to try to get as near as possible cause that just kind of expands our world of story-telling and what we can do.
Q: I know there’s going to be a moment, or at least I think there is where Bruce gets whacked by bats, is that coming? Cause bats are going to be the thing that makes him fear bats.
Stephens: (Laughs) I can’t really give anything away…that’s a very specific thing, we have to keep watching but as you watch the end of the season, you’ll be able to see a whole bunch of our characters take evolutionary steps forward towards the people that we know they’re going to become, whether it’s Bruce or Celina or Enigma or whoever, we all watch them take big steps by the end of the season.
Q: Any chance of seeing any of the classic Batman people like Adam West or Julie Newmar on the show?
Stephens: (Laughs) Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe there’s some way we can work them in, I don’t know. There’s no plans as yet. I won’t role anything out…except for Man-Bat (laughs).
At the panel which was held after the interviews, John Stephens mentioned that he would also like to introduce Victor Fries aka Mr. Freeze, into the the show in the near future.
Gotham returns with all-new episodes on April 13, on Fox.