For a character whose entire reason for being is rooted in something that happened to him as a child, very few of the Batman stories that have been told in any media deal with the actual childhood of young Bruce Wayne. Fox’s forthcoming cop show Gotham, though, looks to be getting there: In the first trailer for the series, a fair amount of time is spent on the preteen boy who will become Batman, as his parents are murdered and he forms the friendships with the eventual Commissioner Gordon and faithful butler Alfred that will come to define the character.
But the Batmanliness of the Gotham trailer is kept to a minimum, with a focus on Ben McKenzie’s Detective Gordon and Donal Logue’s Detective Harvey Bullock, as they chase perps, interview crime figures, and otherwise carry out what may well be a fairly standard police procedural that happens to have guest stars who the audience knows will eventually become the Riddler or the Penguin–both of whom appear at the end of the trailer.
That’s probably a smart move, as too much time spent on a 13-year-old Bruce Wayne (who presumably spends most of his time brooding and “learning to conquer fear,” as he tells Gordon in the trailer) wouldn’t necessarily make for compelling television. But as comics titles like the circa-mid-’00s Gotham Central have captured in the past, stories set in Batman’s city, with Batman’s villains, without a mask to be seen can make for quality storytelling. If Gotham gets the balance between the stories of the city and the story of the boy who will grow up to be the Bat right–and the trailer suggests that it might–the show could be something special.