Gotham Showrunner Bruno Heller Talks Show's Visual Style and Villains-in-Training
May 8, 2014
Fresh off the heels of FOX's series pick-up announcement, EW sat down with "Gotham" showrunner Bruno Heller to discuss the upcoming DC comics-based series, and he had some interesting things to say about the world they're creating.
"This is a world that's going to become that familiar world of Batman, but it's not there yet. It's an embryo. A lot of the work was reverse engineering the story to look at what these characters were like when younger. Penguin, for instance, is not a powerful gang leader, he's a gofer for a gangster. It's about giving the world room to grow, but at the same time giving the fun and pleasure and drama of that heightened world. One of the great things about the Batman world is [the characters] have no super powers. Nobody flies or leaps over buildings. You start with psychology and that's where we build from."
When asked about preparing for the series, and what comics he might have read, Heller replied:
"I read everything I could and then — I didn't throw it away, but I started fresh. I would hate to pick a particular Batman iteration because I would be dismissing others. But for me, The Killing Joke was one of the great ones in the comic books. Obviously the [Frank] Miller version [The Dark Knight], as well."
Heller was then asked about the visual style for "Gotham," which he says he thinks will be better than that of the previously-released films.
"I would say in terms of what [director and executive producer Danny Cannon and director of photography David Stockton] are doing — visually — Gotham will surpass the Batman movies. The movies are a very rigorous, kind of Germanic take on that world. They're visually stunning, but not particularly visually pleasurable. I would say this is much more on the street level of Gotham. There's more people, it's a more colorful place, it's a more vivid place, it's more crowded. The inspiration for me and Danny was New York in the '70s, because we both remember that as a seminal moment, coming to the city for the first time."
With the inclusion of characters such as Oswald Cobblepot, Selina Kyle, Edward Nigma and many others, fans have wondered what other characters from the Batman lore will appear, such as The Joker. Heller confirms that eventually the clown prince of crime will appear on the series.
"He's the crown jewel of the Batman villains. He will be brought in with great care and a lot of thought."
EW also asked Heller about if he found the prequel nature of the series limiting to the kinds of stories he could tell, specifically in relation to not being able to stray from a character's future path as dictated by the source material.
"No. Because there’s lots of other people in the world, and one of the conceits of the show is, where did they get all their ideas? There's precursors to that for the villains and the heroes. They got inspiration from other people, and it's about how they got to that point in the world. It's invigorating and expansive how many stories you can tell once you get away from the gravity of Batman."
The initial pitch for the series, as Heller confirms, was that it would end when Bruce Wayne puts on the cowl and officially becomes Batman. Giving a brief tease about his potential plans for the series, Heller says that's still what they're aiming for but that it won't be for "six or seven years down the line. Hopefully."
"Gotham" follows one cop's rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time. Ben McKenzie, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Zabryna Guevara, Erin Richards, Donal Logue, JadaPinkett Smith, David Mazouz and CamrenBicondova are set to star with the first episode expected to debut this fall.