If there is any real difference between comic book giants DC & Marvel, it isn't on the big screen, but rather, on the small one.
While Marvel has tied its 2nd year series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to its "cinematic universe", DC is doing the exact opposite. As has been demonstrated with Arrow the last two seasons (season 3 begins next week), DC is letting the producers of their adaptations at Warner Bros. have carte blanche over their universe of characters, with each creative team developing its own, ah, pocket universe, if you will. This outside-the-box thinking also allows DC to save the more tried & true versions of their heroes and villains for the big screen, without risking any irrevocable damage to their television product.
Case in point: Gotham. Fox's new Monday night drama is meant to be a prequel to the entire Batman canon, but the focus, in truth, is on the city itself. The choice of characters surrounding a young James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) illustrates the cherry-picking mentality DC is allowing its writers to use. For example, most of the supporting cast, with the exception of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith, ex-Hawthorne, A Different World), are taken from the Bat-books dating back to the early 80's. Of course, this does not include the future villains being showcased, whose history goes back even further.
Gotham Police Captain Sarah Essen, for example, was one of the characters in the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths era of the late 80's-early 90's, and, in the books, had actually married Commissioner Gordon before being killed off. Corrupt detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, ex-Sons of Anarchy, Grounded For Life) made his first appearance in 1983, and his history was later ret-conned such that he & Gordon were actually partners early in their careers, which is the base point that Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon are using in this series.
And, then, there are the villains-to-be. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), ironically, doesn't like the nickname, Penguin, which is, of course, his more famous ID. Instead of being stout, Oswald is more of a slender, nebbishy type, subservient to Fish before she discovers he betrayed her by revealing that a man who had supposedly killed Thomas & Martha Wayne in the opener had been framed for the crime in order to close the books on the case as quickly as possible. Gordon only pretends to kill Cobblepot, who instead swims away. Having had his kneecap broken earlier, Oswald develops the distinctive gait that gives more meaning to the name, Penguin. Edward Nygma, later to be the Riddler, is, of all things, working in the coroner's office. Who'dathunk? I'll give them points for that one.
As for Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman already has the aviator goggles that artist Darwyn Cooke bestowed upon her a decade or so ago-----at the tender age of 13.
Apparently, the idea here is to place Selina, or "Cat", as she's known here, as Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart, to further the whole dynamic of their adult relationship. They have yet to meet, but, rest assured, that seems to be part of the grand plan. The whole girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks thing, y'know?
The problem that exists, however, is that Gotham is trying to be two shows at once. One's a procedural crime drama, the other a soap opera. You really can't have or be both.
Fox has its own YouTube channel, which gives us a trailer:
One wonders, then, if DC has green-lit the same kind of formula for Constantine, which bows in 3 1/2 weeks on NBC, or for a future project like, say, Supergirl, which has been optioned at CBS. We know that The Flash, debuting next week, will, since it's a spin-off from Arrow, which will set it apart from an earlier version of the series nearly 25 years ago. Oh, yeah, there's that other advantage DC has over Marvel. They've been doing this more often, and longer, and with more success. A full chart will be up before the debut of Flash next week.
Gotham gets a B+.