Fox’s Gotham has done a serviceable job of stretching out the central Batman mythology to give audiences a history lesson in the most dangerous fictional city on the planet. Color me crazy, but I’m far more interested in delving deeper into the more human and relatively humane stories of the “good guys” in this situation – Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) – but the bulk of Gotham’s set-up takes advantage of the revolving door of DC villains to make the cops’ lives horrible. The central bad guys have largely been major rogues’ gallery players, but the procedural approach is going to tap the well dry sooner rather than later.
A recent extended episode order means we’re getting more Gotham, which means more bad guys’ foolishly concocted plans will come to light. And while we’re fine with Harvey Dent and his prophetic coin coming into this, here are ten villains from Batman’s history that we hope stay gloriously absent from Gotham’s underworld, no matter how desperate the writers get. Let’s save some of these guys for Chris O’Donnell’s Robin to take care of in a web series somewhere.
EggheadIf Luc Besson’s Lucy re-taught us anything this year, it’s that writers are never as smart as the super-genius characters they’re writing for. So it’s clearer than the surface area of Vincent Price’s bald head that the criminal mastermind Egghead would sound like a goddamned moron if he were ever properly inserted into the world of Gotham. He would almost certainly be conceived as that same Limitless kind of brainiac, only insane and harboring a certain affinity for all things egg-related. (Perhaps he’d be an eggs-istentialist?) Egghead was pretty weird, but not so weird that it’s impossible to think he’d get crammed into Fox’s version of Gotham City. No one should ever follow in Vincent Price’s footsteps for a live-action role, though, even one as silly as this. And no one should ever hatch a plan where it could happen. Now let’s allow this concept to egg-xit our minds before moving on.
Crazy QuiltI freely admit the mountainous levels of joy that watching Donal Logue holler “Crazy Quilt!” would bring to me. Purely from a TV drama standpoint, however, this would be dumber and would take far more exposition than Balloon Man. Mild-mannered painter and expert thief Paul Dekker is blinded by a gunshot during a foiled robbery – good enough for Gotham – and then goes under the knife for a surgery that repairs his eyesight, only now he sees the world solely in big and bright colors, which makes him go insane and starts his patchwork costume-creating lifestyle – bad for Gotham. He was actually a part of DC Comics’ Boy Commandos series before heading to Gotham City, so maybe we’ll allow his non-pastel madness to grace Gotham after Fox turns Boy Commandos into a series. Crazy Quilt was actually an enjoyable enough villain on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but that’s still an entirely different tone. I’m pretty sure even with a badass CGI-enhanced helmet weapon, Crazy Quilt would be a wet blanket.
HushWhy, oh why, wasn’t Hush the villain in The Dark Knight Rises? He’s a character who is far more psychologically terrifying than many of the weapon-toting misfits in Gotham’s shadows, and seeing him face Batman in a live-action setting will indeed be amazing when it happens. But despite being a fan favorite, he can’t show up in Gotham because that monstrous persona was only created after Batman came into existence. Hush’s brilliant surgeon alter ego Tommy Elliot was a childhood friend of Bruce’s who grew to hate the Wayne family, which means he should technically only be a child at this point in the series anyway. He exists in some form in Gotham through a passing reference from Alfred, but he’d better just stay offscreen. Even if the writers tinkered with DC history to make Elliot a friend of Thomas Wayne or something, this version of Jim Gordon is nowhere near badass enough yet to take on someone like Hush. Maybe the bandage-faced sociopath can be a Season 5 arc. Maybe.
The Penny PlundererThe Penny Plunderer is in the “I haven’t grocery shopped in weeks and I’m now eating a butter sandwich” class of comic book villains. His criminal underpinnings are tied into situations where he can use pennies, or representations of pennies, in his dastardly doings. Back in 1947, the penny had a larger stake in the world of commerce, though it still doesn’t excuse such an ineffective use of supplies as building giant pennies as a way to kill Batman and Robin. He would have to be the Bitcoin Bandit if he showed up in Gotham’s somewhat time-free setting.
Condiment KingSure, you read “Condiment King” and you think, “This guy was a pun-spouting dummy that was used mostly for humor’s sake in Batman: The Animated Series, so there’s no way they would use him on Gotham.” And then you think, “Wait, this kind of goofy idea is exactly the kind of thing that Fox series tend to present as clever and funny, so of course they’re going to bring Condiment King to Gotham.” And while you’re thinking these things, I’m sitting over here trying to formulate a way to work “syrup” into a pun. The guy uses trick mustard for his criminal deeds. I realize it would be the perfect ploy for a street food vendor in Gotham City to use, but we don’t have a taste for Condiment King.
Sin FangYou don’t have to look far back into Fox’s history as a network to find series with a life force that ran on offensive stereotypical humor. (In Living Color, anyone?) But this is the slightly more politically correct year of 2014, and a villain like Sin Fang would likely face bigger problems with a Twitter backlash than the officers of the Gotham City Police Department. Created for Detective Comics #35, Sin Fang is a Chinatown thug running a fencing operation. Or is he? As it turns out, he’s actually just a white guy in a Fu Manchu disguise, working the criminal angle from two different cultural viewpoints. The image above, in which he takes off his “yellow skin gloves,” would admittedly be fabulously uncomfortable to see transported to TV, but there are a lot more inoffensive crooks out there in the world, like Mammy Red Lips or something. He showed up a few times later in the comics in a less on-the-nose manner, but that doesn’t excuse anything.
King TutFrom the fake Orient to fake Egypt we go for the criminally insane King Tut, a former history professor who loses his shit and starts thinking he’s King Tut reincarnated, and that Gotham City is his Thebes. Created for the 1960s TV show, King Tut is as goofy and non-frightening as they come and would work completely against the dark and gritty “realism” that Gotham has going for it. Far more frightening to me is the fact that King Tut managed to amass a small criminal empire, which means people whose brains weren’t snapped chose to follow this lunatic, dressing in the same Egyptian costumes as their leader. This story would be fine as The Following’s Season 3, but I’ve no need for it here.
Doctor Double XThis is another idea that works just fine within the comic book and animated worlds, but would be an absolute disaster if it made a transition to live-action. So far, the bad guys in Gotham are using tactile things like guns and baseball bats to get shit done. Doctor Double X was created when Dr. Simon Ecks discovered that people’s auras could be extracted and controlled, and he did such to his own energy field, obviously resulting in an evil super-strong doppelgänger wreaking havoc on things. I don’t think Gotham needs to enter this realm of science fiction, and if the show did head in that direction, then Mr. Freeze’s absurd story should be the only time it does. Now, if they can get Ron Perlman (who voiced the character in Batman: The Brave and the Bold) to play the character, I might do some reconsidering.
King of CatsI cannot believe there are two entries in this list with “King” in them. The most viral video-ready villain in the annals of Batman’s foes, King of Cats is the feline-obsessed evil persona of Karl Kyle, Selina Kyle’s brother. So while she’s just Catwoman, he has to top that and be the King of Cats. (Just like a man in the 1950s.) Because young Selina (Camren Bicondova) and her past are still something of a mystery within Gotham, it’s entirely possible that she’ll have a brother, and that her brother may one day be interested in aping her criminal acts. Luckily, Kyle is still more of a miscreant than a villain, so we probably won’t have to worry about that potential reveal for a while. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduced King of Cats as the baddie that inspires Selina Kyle to adopt a whiskered alter ego. (Maybe he’d team up with 9 Lives Man.) Hopefully a lack of curiosity kills this cat character before a second thought goes his way.
The JokerYeah, this seems like the exact opposite of what a Batman fan would want to see on a show that has ties to the Batman universe. But I’m perfectly happy knowing that Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger have already given us three wonderfully distinct portrayals of the Clown Prince of Crime. I don’t really need to see a lesser-known actor don the face paint and the purple suit for a project of (current) lesser value than Batman projects of years past. Admittedly, I’m not against the Joker being a hidden presence in this show – a behind-the-scenes mastermind – but my hope is for the series to end with Batman and the Joker coming face to face for the first time, then the screen fades to black. It’s not as exciting as “the pencil trick,” but it’s bound to leave a better taste in my mouth than whatever version of the Joker eventually does make it to Gotham.
Which villains do you hope stay the hell out of Gotham? Let us know in the comments.