In July 2020, HBO Max announced Gotham City PD in which it will be set in the world of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, but the focus would be on a corrupt cop who becomes inspired by the heroism displayed by the dark knight himself. Originally, Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter was attached to the project; however, the showrunner exited the series in November 2020. Creative differences were cited as the reasoning, though neither Warner Brothers or Terence have confirmed or denied these rumors. Joe Barton then came on board in January 2021, and since then, bits and pieces have come to light about the Batman spin-off. Then, Matt Reeves revealed on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that the television series is on indefinite hold. Reeves has stated that they were turning their attention to an Arkham Asylum series. There wasn’t enough information regarding Gotham City PD so there isn’t much backlash in regards to the likely canceled series, but in truth, was there ever a need for a show centered around Gotham’s finest?
Here’s the issue with Gotham City PD, Gotham exists; The show centered around James Gordon and the police that inhabited the DC world. However, Gotham is essentially a beautiful mess, the show found its groove once it embraced the chaos and insanity of the world of Gotham, but it will never go down as one of the best television shows in history. Part of it is that it was never really about James Gordon. Sure, Gordon was the protagonist, but the world was littered with Batman easter eggs that even if you blinked then you still wouldn’t miss it. Eventually, it became more about the DC villains and less about the Gotham force as the writers couldn’t help themselves by continuously smacking you in the face with Batman and the villains that he would soon fight. Now, it’s not particularly fair to rule out Gotham City PD because of the Fox series but there’s no denying that the show has put somewhat of a black shadow over the spin-off.
However, that doesn’t mean that Gotham City PD can’t be good. There’s something compelling about following the police officers who have to deal with the insanity known as Gotham City. We’re always told that the place is ruled by criminals that the police can’t handle, and it would be fascinating to explore the perspective of the DC universe through the eyes of the cops. Gotham never came close to truly diving into that notion. At the end of the day, it just wanted to be Batman lite. Why are these cops unable to defeat these crazed psychopaths? What hell and trauma do they suffer through on a daily basis? How do they truly feel about not being able to protect the city that’s run rampant with criminals? I know that the focus is on a corrupt police officer turning his life around for the better, but given his status and the fact that he turns to the dark side, surely the hope is to truly get into the thick of the GCPD.
However, another big problem is that Batman himself looming over the series. It’s not impossible to make a spin-off in a world that doesn’t involve the caped crusader, Joker has proven this. Given the fact that the premise specifically says that the corrupt cop is inspired to change by the vigilante himself, the dark knight may over shadow the series. Gotham mostly failed because it couldn’t get out of the shadow of Batman. Fans may end up craving more of the dark knight and be disappointed over the notion that he’s not a regular of the series. This was supposed to be steeped in the world of Matt Reeves’ The Batman; however, how can base a story inspired by the DC hero not have his presence cast some type of shadow? Batman should be saved for the feature. It’s possible that Robert Pattinson’s version was planning to make appearances for the spin-off, but if not, the show shouldn’t feature him nor be reliant on the comic book hero. It is possible to craft a compelling story out of this premise where viewers don’t feel that Batman is necessary. However, it will surely be an uphill battle. Gotham City PD has strong potential so hopefully they do actually try to bring this series to life. But Matt Reeves’ shifting his focus to Arkham Asylum is a better idea as the most interesting thing about Gotham is the string of color villains. Sure, it may turn into a bloody and often non-sensical madness like Gotham, but hopefully it’s still a fun ride.