With the network gearing up to debut the Batman prequel series Gotham this fall, Fox exec Kevin Reilly has a few ideas for how the series can avoid the slow start that stunted ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the early part of its first season.
In a chat with Collider, Reilly was asked how the DC series will differ from Marvel’s flagship series S.H.I.E.L.D., and he made some fairly interesting points about the prequel series’ approach. Reilly notes they’re using “franchise characters” from the get-go to frame the story around, along with new characters, instead of trying to build a whole new cast of characters viewers had never heard of. Fair enough.
Here’s an excerpt from what Reilly, the network’s chairman of entertainment, had to say on the topic:
“When you get these franchises with some built-in profiles in it and anticipation, the burden is that the anticipation and the build-up can exceed the delivery. While I felt like we had something potentially really huge in Gotham, you’re always nervous that it won’t live up. This is conjecture on my part, but I think they struggled to find the creative footing on [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.] Also, those weren’t the actual franchise characters. With Gotham, you should look at the pilot when it’s available. You’ll see that it’s very sure-footed, creatively. The concerns about whether it will live up to its promise were put to rest when I saw it, a month ago. I’ve also looked at written material and our series bible for the 13 episodes.
We have a staff now and they’re generating, and it really feels like it knows what it is. And the real selling point to me, on Gotham, right from the get-go, was that these are the actual series franchise characters. It is the prequel story. These are stories never told. There is The Penguin, Commissioner Gordon, Bruce Wayne and The Riddler. There are fictitious characters. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character is a new character, called Fish Mooney, and you’ll see characters like that. But, the tentpoles of the world are the great characters we know and love. So, I am feeling very good about where we are with Gotham.”
Reilly makes some good points, but the jury is obviously still out until we get our eyes on that pilot episode. Yes, franchise characters bring their own audience to the table — but you also lose the element of surprise, because we know where these characters end up, and you can’t exactly kill a future Batman villain before Batman grows up.
Part of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s growing pains revolved around the slow introduction of the team, but the series shone by the end, and they have some genuine intrigue, because any of these characters could die, or switch sides, at any moment. Basically — it’s a double-edged sword.
So, yeah, pros and cons. What do you think? Does Reilly make a good point about the differences?