Recasting in “Gotham”

“It wasn’t Hell; only fools and drama queens throw that word around about a place like Gotham. It was worse, in a way, because it was manmade. There wasn’t any timeless malevolence behind it all, it was just… what human beings can descend to when they let themselves forget they can be heroes.”  — Chris Dee, Cattitude

With “Gotham” scheduled to return on Sep. 19, 2016, we are getting a few details about the upcoming season. Possibly one of the most significant is the re-casting of the “Ivy” character.

I never did understand why they named the character “Ivy Pepper”, when the comic version is “Pamela Isley”. This assumes, of course, that Miss Pepper is the TV version of the girl who becomes supervillain “Poison Ivy”. The strong affinity for plant-life and horticulture has already been established, and, although she has only appeared a handful of times, everything points to her eventual evolution into the unpredictable, ecologically-minded, leafy-garbed, redheaded Bat-villain we are familiar with from the comics. On the other hand, the “Gotham” versions of characters often go in quite different directions from their comic book counterparts.

Maggie Geha as "Ivy"

Maggie Geha as “Ivy”

But, now we have learned that the 14-year-old Clare Foley has been replaced by the 28-year-old Maggie Geha. (Great casting, btw!) Apparently, “Ivy” is set to be artificially aged — well, her body, anyway, ‘cuz you can’t implant life experiences or emotional maturation — to look like she is in her late teens to early twenties. While the character didn’t have a large role in previous seasons, I hope she gets a little more to do in Season 3. It would be nice to see the character fleshed out a bit more. (Hah, that was punny!) But, I also hope they are able to keep continuity with the way Ivy acted before, as well as give a believable portrayal of a slightly-odd, orphaned, 14-year-old girl dealing psychologically and physically with her sudden transformation into a beautiful adult woman. That will take just the right combination of writing, directing, and (obviously) acting. Here’s hopin’….

Some fans have also begun to wonder about the “Bruce Wayne” character. When considering the future of the show, is 15-year-old David Mazouz able to continue portraying the young man who will become the Batman? As Moviepilot’s Kerry Cepero noted,

“To become Batman, there needs to be a physical change as well. David looks so young and is built the same way, and eventually he will have to start looking like a young man able to bear the mantle of the bat. Which begs the question: Can he do it? Will it happen in an acceptable television timeline for the show?”

If they intend to have Bruce evolve into the Batman on the show, there are a few ways to go about this.

1) They could keep Mazouz on in the character and hope he grows into it. An intensive workout routine and appropriate diet would be in order, though, to get the slender Mazouz in shape. (Problem: He may not get any taller than his current 5’7″.) This, of course, assumes that the series will remain on the air long enough for this to be an issue.

2) They could recast the part beginning with Season 4, which would have a roughly 16-year-old Bruce beginning his physical training in earnest and perhaps toying with ideas about how he might influence the city for the better — both via Wayne Industries and through some more… personal, extracurricular activities. The new actor shouldn’t be too buff to start but should have the right look nonetheless. He could be in his 20s, too. (Cepero suggests Tyler Posey from “Teen Wolf”. I’m not familiar with him, but he looks like a good choice.)

3) Beginning with Season 4 or 5, they could time-jump the series by 5 or 10 years. This would give them the opportunity to cast an older “Bruce” who has gone through much or all of his advanced training and education. He could then begin his Bat-exploits. It would probably also mean re-casting Selina (who is about the same age as Bruce), and I would hate to see young Camren Bicondova go. In some ways, it would be like starting a new series, since many people and things in Gotham City would have changed in the intervening years. This could be good or bad.

Gotham-TitlePersonally, I’m not a huge fan of David Mazouz. He’s done an OK job, I guess. But, I never felt he was a good casting choice, either in appearance or demeanor. That said, I don’t think he should be recast for two reasons. First, if they are at all faithful to the source material in regards to Bruce’s general education and extensive, specialized training, most of it happens over a roughly 10 year period — spanning from his mid- to late-teens to his mid- to late-20s — and not in Gotham City. He essentially becomes a world traveler, which would not work for this show.

Second, the series is not “Young Batman”, it’s “Gotham”. The emphasis has been and should remain not just on Bruce (and Alfred) but on the cops, criminals, future villains, and others that live in the city of Gotham. It is the early evolution of the city that will become so twisted as to require a Dark Knight to emerge to protect it from itself. Introducing a nascent Batman would take away the focus. (However, I think I have mentioned before that I would have preferred a series that followed young Bruce through his training, as he mastered various skills and learned life-lessons. Perhaps a sequel to “Gotham” should be pursued…?)

So, in the end, I don’t think “Bruce Wayne” should ever become the Batman on the “Gotham” series, and Mazouz should stay on for however long the series lasts, which probably won’t be more than another couple seasons.

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