“Gotham” season 5 will prove once again why the fictional DC Comics city needs Batman, an extraordinary hero to take on extraordinary villains. Fans of Fox’s “Gotham” have watched actor David Mazouz grow up on their television screens. Mazouz was only 13-years-old when the show first debuted, and now, over four years later, he is a young man. His character, young Bruce Wayne, is preparing to take up the mantle of Batman, the vigilante protector of Gotham who terrorizes the city’s criminals with his own brand of justice.
While “Gotham” is ostensibly about Jim Gordon using conventional methods to fight crime on the streets of a city that scoffs at the notion of conventionality, it’s also about Bruce Wayne. Especially in the show’s more recent seasons, “Gotham” has had a strong peripheral focus on showing the Wayne boy transform from a shell-shocked victim into someone with a desire – and an unshakable will – to make a difference and save his city from ruin.
During our visit to the set of the fifth and final season of “Gotham”, we spoke to David Mazouz, who shared his thoughts on Bruce Wayne’s arc and how the show has always been about Batman:
Ultimately, “Gotham” is Bruce’s origin show. How did Bruce go from an unfortunate rich boy in an alley to becoming Batman? I hope that we’ve shown how somebody has turned their own misery into something that can be a driving force for good, into determination, into perseverance, into extraordinary willpower.
No other adaptation of Batman has spent as much time with a pre-Batman world as “Gotham”. The city was always understood to be a black hole of violence and despair. “Gotham” goes to great lengths to show how the status quo of traditional depictions of the Batman mythos depends on a delicate equilibrium, with the city’s cavalcade of villains on one side, and Batman on the other, fighting to keep the city from falling into outright collapse. In “Gotham”, that equilibrium does not exist yet, so the villains are all but unchallenged, save for the valiant, but arguably vain, efforts of Jim Gordon and the few good cops in the city.
Gotham is not an ordinary city, it’s a gothic and violent cesspool which chews people up and spits them out, twisted caricatures of who they were before. In season 5, the villains are increasingly close to their over-the-top personas from the comics and various adaptations, a far cry from their comparatively grounded portrayals in season 1. In a way, this applies to Bruce Wayne, as well. As Mazouz explains:
The show’s main message is showing why Batman was so necessary. This city was falling apart, mercilessly. The cops weren’t doing their job. Jim Gordon was doing everything he could, he’s the best cop there is; but the problem is, in order to take down the insane, out-of-this-world villains in Gotham, there needs to be something equally insane and equally out-of-this-world. Something traditional just isn’t going to cut it. That’s what this show is saying. Every season ends on a huge loss for the good guys and a huge victory for the bad guys. That’s the staple, the trademark of the show. The beginning of every season is dealing with a huge catastrophe that, really, only Batman could prevent.
Taking down run-of-the-mill mobsters is one thing. Even Fish Mooney wasn’t completely outside the realm of what regular cops like Jim Gordon could reasonably handle. However, when the villains of Gotham are undead freaks like Solomon Grundy, psychotic monsters like Jerome/Jeremiah, and mad scientists like Hugo Strange, it takes a hero as unconventional as Batman to keep the city from falling into complete madness.