The end of this weeks Gotham featured a tease for Mr. Freeze, a character that was a minor villain in the comics, made larger by the Adam West TV series and full realized in Batman: The Animated Series. And where the glimpse we had of the character looked cool, it made me think that Gotham is changing one of the fundamental questions tied to the Dark Knight… would there be costumed villains in the city of Batman had never appeared?
This was addressed in the Christopher Nolan film Batman Begins as that version of Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) met the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) on the roof and handed him a joker card. He asked about escalation and if having a costumed vigilante would lead to costumed maniacs for the vigilante to fight. It's a question that has come up many times before.
But in Gotham, we are years away from Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) ever putting on the cowl and this Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has gone much further down the rabbit hole already. We have Penguin, Riddler, Zsasz, Firefly, Dollmaker, Electrocutioner and now Mr. Freeze. We've also had things set up for Scarecrow, Two-Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Joker and Bane. Plus this season we've seen the Court of Owls and Azreal is coming. By the time he throws his first Batarang most of Batman's rogues gallery will already have long criminal records.
And since we are only a season and a half into the series… that is a lot of villains in a very short amount of time. And at the rate the Gordon is killing people, he'll be the first bad guy Batman goes after.
So the question becomes, does it matter? Is the escalation question important to the psychology of the Batman story? Do his villains need to be in part a response to his actions? Or can we throw that out since we are telling the story of Gordon here and not Bruce Wayne? It's something to think about.