With the cancellation of several Arrowverse shows, and some corporate sales and acquisitions, a lot of people have questioned the future of shows based on DC Comics airing on the CW network. It’s a reasonable question. Whatever the fate of the related Arrowverse series, the end is not quite here for the concept of these shows. While I’ve heard little about the “Gotham U” show that’s supposed to figure David Ramsey’s John Diggle since the initial announcement, there’s at least one more show coming to the CW.
Coming some time in 2023, which is as specific as they’ve gotten so far, “Gotham Knights” is an alternate reality show where Batman is killed, his secret revealed, and the suspects in his death are an improbably young and handsome group. While the series promo material keeps talking about the “sons and daughters of villains,” they don’t seem to live up to that billing. The main group is:
Turner Hayes, an original character who is supposed to be Bruce Wayne’s son (I’m hoping they’ll explain why he has a different last name), and looks like a spoiled teen in the brief glimpse we get of his life before Batman’s death. He seems shocked to learn of Bruce’s secret, which makes me wonder how useful he’s going to be as a “young hero.” No one seems to have any powers, and Turner doesn’t seem to have any training. If he’s a fugitive on the run, he also doesn’t have access to Bruce’s wealth, so he can’t play the “I’m rich” card.
Stephanie Brown, in the comics, is the daughter of C-list (at best) villain Cluemaster. She’s had quite a career, first creating the identity of Spoiler to specifically foil her father’s plans and schemes, later graduating to Robin and then Batgirl. She’s also usually been portrayed as the love interest for Tim Drake, the third Robin, but this world doesn’t seem to have Robins in it. A version of the character showed up briefly on Batwoman, making this her second live-action adaptation. How much of her history will be a factor on the show is unclear.
Carrie Kelley has an odd history. In the near-future Dark Knight Returns, featuring an aged Bruce Wayne and a dystopian society, she becomes the Robin of that time. She’s also a redhead, which has been recast. Her appearance in the trailer shows some kind of link to Batman, so she at least has some kind of training, although no supervillain connection I’m aware of. This will be the character’s first live-action appearance.
Harper Row, in the comics, is a mechanical genius, emancipated teen, and daughter of an abusive father, who is unquestionably a jerk but not a supervillain. After an early encounter with Batman impressed her, she began to use her skills to help Batman behind the scenes, eventually becoming the vigilante Bluebird. She is a rarity in comics, in that she’s bisexual. Most of her energy is spent looking after her younger brother, who we’ll deal with below. Clearly, this is going to be a very different version of the character if she’s a suspect in Bruce’s death. Gotham Knights will be her first live action appearance.
Cullen Row is an openly gay teen in the comics, leading to a lot of bullying and his sister standing up for him. He’s had very few comic book appearances, with no notable skills or talents. This character, too, is going to go through some kind of revamp for the series, and this will also be his first live-action appearance. Like his sister, he has no noted connection any DC villain, or hero for that matter.
Duela Dent has a remarkably complicated history in the comics. She first showed up as an ally of the Teen Titans, claiming to be the Joker’s daughter. Later, she said Two-Face was her father, and, as time passed, said at various times her parent was the Scarecrow, Riddler, Penguin, and even Catwoman. She’s variously been a mental patient, a hero, a villain, and has been shown as anything from a teenager to a middle-aged woman, and that’s just in the mainstream comic book reality. They seem to be playing up the Joker’s daughter angle for the show. Despite her decades-long history, this will be her first appearance in live action as well.
The other character shown prominently in the trailer is Harvey Dent. Harvey is best known as the villain Two-Face, and has been in several movies. Here, the character seems to still be the District Attorney, never being hideously disfigured and suffering the trauma that put him on the road to villainy. He appears to be a major antagonist for the main characters, although whether that’s from being an officer of the court or actually corrupt is something we’ll have to see if/when the show comes out.
I have a lot of questions about this show and the history of the world it’s set in. Were there never any Robins in this world? Or Batgirl? Is this going to be another show oddly set in Gotham that never mentions Jim Gordon, such an integral part of the Bat-mythos? Is there not an Alfred?
This show is fairly clearly not part of the Arrowverse, so we shouldn’t expect any cameos from, or mentions of, any of those characters. Whether or not other heroes exist in this world is also so far an unanswered question. I guess we’ll find out in 2023. Then again, with the raft of cancellations of other shows on the CW, I’m not wholly convinced we’ll see this one, or Gotham U. I just hope this show goes better than the other alternate Gotham show that aired years ago, the one season and largely mocked Birds of Prey.