I recently wrote a news piece for Screen Rant about the comments that Gotham show runner Bruno Heller made about Superheroes not working on television and follow-up clarification from executive producer Ken Woodruff.
Bruno Heller was at the Edinburgh Television Festival this past August, when he blurted out the following:
"I don’t think superheroes work very well on TV. Probably because of the costume thing."
Heller went on to say:
"TV is about real people and faces and not so much about magic and the supernatural things"
Really? Really Bruno? I think viewers of HBO's Game of Thrones may differ in that opinion, especially since Gotham averaged 4 million viewers per episode last season and Game of Thrones averaged 22 million. Executive producer Ken Woodruff tried to further clarify Heller's comments while promoting Gotham season three to the Hollywood Reporter:
“I think I can help clarify his statement. There’s a reason why he chose to develop a show that took place before the actual fully realized Batman. He thought that was the best way to tell stories on the medium of television. It was about the origins and it was about real people and how they evolved and became the villains and heroes that we know and we’ve seen in comics and in feature films. A lot of that is just pragmatic and TV is a much more intimate medium sometimes than film can be. You’re living with these people, you’re spending 22 hours with them over the course of a season as opposed to two hours. They’re in your living room. They’re part of your life in a much more intimate way than maybe film characters can be. When you have a cape on and you’re a superhero, there’s a level of attachment there. They’re otherworldly and godlike in that way. That’s what Bruno was talking about.”
Interestingly, the CW Network has a plethora of DC Comics shows with weekly costumed superheroes that are working just fine. The Flash, for example, enjoys nearly the same ratings as Gotham and is on a network with far less exposure than Fox. Supergirl, which recently moved from CBS to the CW to join the other DC Comics shows, beat out Gotham in the ratings hands down last season. Why then, pray tell, does everyone think that superheroes cannot work on television?
Apparently, as usual, DC Comics is trailing behind Marvel. I say that with begrudging fan frustration, because I'm a DC guy through and through, but lets face facts...the Netflix Daredevil series has proven that costumed heroes and intimate "real world" storytelling can mix to produce amazing results, the kind of results that you just can't get from squeezing a bunch of characters on the big screen for two hours. That may be one of the big reasons why films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are getting such a harsh reception from the fans...perhaps we just demand more in today's world?
Bottom line is that its been fifty years since fans have been given a Batman television show. Its long overdue at this point, if you ask me. If you want to do Batman in the box office, fine. Do a series...a REAL series (no prequels and stay closer to accepted versions of the characters) and then release the season finales to the theater as movie events. I guarantee you'll garner more loyalty and respect from viewers and a lot less criticism for rushed, muddled and half-assed characterization and storytelling. If you need a model DC Comics, go watch Daredevil on Netflix.