Gotham's showrunner on his pre-Batman plan and the "crown jewel of the Batman villains"

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May 8, 2014, 7:16 PM EDT (Updated)

Are you confused by all the villains featured in Fox's Gotham? Earlier this week, the network released the first trailer for the upcoming series that has some fans worried. The show has been called Gotham High and Batman: The Teen Years, due to its young cast. But according to showrunner Bruno Heller (HBO's Rome, The Mentalist), it's all by design.

"This is a world that’s going to become that familiar world of Batman, but it’s not there yet. It’s an embryo. A lot of the work was reverse engineering the story to look at what these characters were like when younger. Penguin, for instance, is not a powerful gang leader, he’s a gofer for a gangster. It’s about giving the world room to grow, but at the same time giving the fun and pleasure and drama of that heightened world. One of the great things about the Batman world is [the characters] have no super powers. Nobody flies or leaps over buildings. You start with psychology and that’s where we build from."

Speaking of villains, the first season will be full of them. You can expect appearances by Edward Nygma, a young Selina Kyle and possibly Harvey Dent ... who go on to become the Riddler, Catwoman and Two-Face, respectively. They're big names, but they're not at the top of the food chain just yet. That honor goes to Fish Mooney, a villain played by Jada Pinkett Smith. Heller claims, "She gives a performance that will surprise and shock people."

Even though Gotham centers on the origins of these characters, you can't forget the heroes of the story. Yes, there's a young Jim Gordon, but the most famous of the bunch is Batman. And where there's Batman, there's always the Joker. Since Bruce is relatively young on the show, Heller explains that Gotham will focus on his unorthodox upbringing. "It’s about the strange education of this young man. He has a good idea of where he’s going early on. But it’s about the growth of this young man."

Bruce will become Batman, and the series will end with him putting on the cowl, "whether metaphorically or literally." Heller clarifies, "That’s six or seven years down the line. Hopefully." As for the Joker, will we have to wait long for his arrival? "He’s the crown jewel of the Batman villains. He will be brought in with great care and a lot of thought."

Gotham premieres this fall on Fox.

(EW via Slashfilm)

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