Authors: Jules, Mal
With tonight’s premiere of Gotham Knights, The CW adds yet another new superhero show to its iconic lineup. Paired with returning series Superman and Lois, the new drama follows a formidable group of mismatched fugitives who have to work together to clear their names after being framed for the murder of Batman. Gotham City is described as “a powder keg” in the marketing for Gotham Knights, and we can’t wait to see it blow!
There’s so much about this show that fans are excited for. While we can’t cover every little detail that we’re eager to see on screen, let’s take a look at the key things we’ve been awaiting ever since that first teasing “Your Bat Is Dead” shot from set.
One appealing aspect of Gotham Knights is its cast, particularly the younger actors making up the main ensemble. Oscar Morgan is protagonist Turner Hayes, while Tyler DiChiara, Fallon Smythe, and Olivia Rose Keegan form the trio of morally gray “heroes” he reluctantly teams up with. Rounding out the group are Navia Robinson as Carrie Kelley, this generation’s Robin, and Anna Lore as Stephanie Brown, Turner’s friend who proves useful to their overall mission. For many of these actors, Gotham Knights represents their first series regular role and their “big break” in the industry. Their excitement for the project and their characters is clear, which comes through in the various trailers released so far. Cast chemistry will be essential in making Gotham Knights work, and we’re excited to see this new team in action.
Aside from fresh faces and emerging talent, the show’s adult cast is anchored by a fandom veteran in Misha Collins as Harvey Dent. Collins is well known to CW viewers for his long-running role as the angel Castiel on Supernatural. At first glance, Castiel and Harvey share similar characteristics in their quest for good and attempts to do the right thing no matter the personal cost. But one important divergence should intrigue fans: Harvey’s descent into the villainous Two Face character. We’ve seen Collins play evil before on Supernatural, but always as a possessed or alternate version of Castiel. Since Harvey’s breakdown has been teased as one of the season’s central conflicts, we’re looking forward to seeing a new side of Collins’ acting abilities as he tackles an iconic DC villain.
A Twist on the Genre
The classic story structure of the so-called villains turning out to be “good” is a popular trope for a reason. The tension between Turner and his new allies will certainly make for interesting group dynamics, not to mention that classic teen drama The CW is known for. Combined with the action sequences and bad guys of the week, Gotham Knights is shaping up to be a unique series at the crossroads between Gossip Girl and The Dark Knight (two pieces of media that rarely occupy the same sentence). Batman is known for his brooding, angsty approach to vigilante justice, so it’s appropriate that his adopted son would display some of the same characteristics.
From an action perspective, fans are almost certainly in for a treat. Given that Gotham Knights airs on network television, the stunt coordinators will need to find a way to make the fights realistic for DC fans used to much darker violence in their films, yet still adhere to network standards. This can often produce creative and inspired fight sequences that make up for their lack of explicit gore through interesting camera moves and unique fight choreography. Given that Gotham Knights is centered on a group of vigilantes fighting a heavily armed and corrupt police department, those coming to enjoy explosive fights won’t be disappointed.
Diverse, Dynamic Storytelling
DC put their first POC superhero on the page in 1971 (John Stewart, a member of the Green Lantern corps). Since then, they’ve had their ups and downs, but the new generation of content is being built from the ground up with different backgrounds and cultures, including brilliant characters of color in shows such as Teen Titans, Young Justice, and the Justice League, and even in movies such as Suicide Squad or Birds of Prey.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, DC gave fans their first gay superhero in 1988 (Extraño, in Millennium #2). DC has consistently pushed forward with queer representation since then. These days, DC builds their characters with a whole spectrum of LGBTQ+ sexualities in mind and does not shy away from representation. Many mainstream characters, from Batwoman to Tim Drake, are distinctly identified as queer in some form, and the comics (and shows and movies that come out of them, such as Gotham Knights) explore the topics, relationships, and culture that comes with those characters inherent queerness. DC began exploring gender orientation and trans characters in Doom Patrol in 1989, another facet of the rainbow that they are continuing to represent in Gotham Knights.
What we can tell, even just from the trailers, is that Gotham Knights will be following in the footsteps of DC TV projects like Supergirl (featuring the first trans superhero on TV with Nicole Maines as Dreamer), Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Batwoman, Naomi, and more. Within the show, we have Harper Row, a cisgendered bisexual member of the Bat Brat Pack, and Cullen Row, her trans brother. In the comics, Cullen is gay and has a crush on Tim Drake, one of the iterations of Robin — whether he’ll get any romantic storylines in Gotham Knights, with its whole new world of storylines, remains to be seen.
DC TV has, on the whole, had a lot of queer rep, and they have managed to present it in a way that feels fairly organic for the stories they are telling. DC stories are, at their heart, superhero stories, and you do not need to be straight, white, and cisgender to be heroic. DC honors these characters by working them into the canon in such a way that they are no less a part of the plot and environment than their counterparts, and their culture and inherent unique personhood is an asset to their teams and shows. Gotham Knights appears poised to deliver an engaging superhero series for DC fans that honors its comic origins, including its commitment to telling diverse stories.
Gotham Knights premieres tonight, March 14, at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find the rest of our coverage of the series here. Be sure to check out Your Bat Is Dead, Nerds & Beyond’s podcast covering all things Gotham Knights!