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Spoilers ahead for the Season 4 finale of Gotham.
The Season 4 finale of Gotham was a wild ride from start to finish as the show delivered on the promised "no man's land" arc. Thanks to the unholy alliance between Jeremiah Valeska and Ra's al Ghul, the bridges from Gotham City to the rest of the country were destroyed, restricting travel in and out of the city. While a lot of people managed to evacuate, plenty of folks -- mostly unsavory -- stayed behind. Jim Gordon and some of the GCPD stayed behind as well to try and keep the gangs from overtaking the city. Bruce Wayne also stuck around, and the finale introduced a creepy new bad guy of DC Comics fame that could kickstart his transformation into Batman: Man-Bat.
Yes, that monstrous-looking creature from the end of the Season 4 finale is Gotham's version of the DC baddie known as Man-Bat. Despite what his name seems to indicate, Man-Bat is not simply the inverse of Batman. Man-Bat appeared in the finale in a church, where he was hanging upside down from the rafters, as one does. When two drifters wandered in looking for shelter, Man-Bat screeched, turned right-side up, spread his wings, and just about scared the pants off the drifters.
Man-Bat's appearance just as Gotham is descending into darkness and presumably madness in no man's land could easily be what inspires Bruce Wayne to take up the cape and the cowl as Batman. Bruce has already been haunted by a bat-like form in his dreams, and he's already developing the idea of becoming a vigilante to save Gotham, despite Alfred's protest that saving Gotham is not Bruce's job. (Better get used to that, Alfred.) Man-Bat's appearance is sure to terrify all those who encounter him; perhaps seeing how effective Man-Bat is in instilling fear will motivate Bruce to use the bat as his own personal symbol.
After all, most adaptations of Batman see the Caped Crusader wanting to terrify the criminal element of Gotham City, and Man-Bat will almost certainly prove that bats can be terrifying if used in the right context. Man-Bat could be what motivates Bruce to make the jump from masked vigilante to Batman. A big question now is how closely Gotham will follow Man-Bat's comic origins. Although there have been a number of adaptations of the character, Man-Bat is traditionally the scientist Dr. Kirk Langstrom who transforms himself into a man-sized bat after he tested an experimental formula on himself. The formula was intended to help people, but Langstrom's good intentions backfired. When in his bat form, he's lacking in all intelligence and self-control, and he's prone to deadly rampages.
That said, many versions of Man-Bat in various adaptations feature a serum that can be used to transform him back into Kirk Langstrom. If this is the case for Gotham, his existence could be a great inspiration for Bruce to become Batman. If Langstrom can become Batman to terrify people and then transform back into himself, why can't Bruce do something along the same lines? It wouldn't even be the weirdest thing ever to happen on Gotham. With only one abbreviated season left before the show comes to an end, Bruce Wayne's transition into Batman will need to speed up, and Man-Bat could be the way to make that happen.
Interestingly, the quick glimpse of Man-Bat in the finale seems to indicate that he's not quite as physically batty as in the comics. There's no denying that something has happened to physically change him, but it looks like the wings are constructed out of rods and fabric. That said, we'll have to wait and see. Man-Bat could be totally batty, organic wings and all. It should be fun to see where Gotham goes with Man-Bat.
Not all the characters will be alive to see Man-Bat terrorize the streets of Gotham City. The Season 4 finale saw some characters killed off and left others in a bad way. Check out our rundown of all the characters who died and were injured in the finale and be sure to swing by our breakdown of the fantastic ways the finale set up Season 5. If you're in the market for shows to watch while we wait for Gotham to return and show off Man-Bat in all his ghastly glory, take a look at our summer TV premiere guide.