'Person of Interest' is why 'Gotham' doesn't need Batman

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FOX is heading into comic-book territory with its new drama "Gotham." The new series follows the life of Detective Jim Gordon before he becomes commissioner, and includes the character of a young Bruce Wayne.

FOX head Kevin Reilly revealed at TCA winter press tour that "all the classic Batman characters" including the Riddler, the Penguin and the Joker will show up, and many of the show's episodes will just be about having origin stories for those villains. (Fingers crossed for a "The Killing Joke" nod in the Joker one.)

Some viewers might wonder why FOX isn't going full-out with a Batman series. After all, "Gotham" has the makings of a superhero show, but is telling its superhero's story before he picked up the cape and cowl. 

The caped crusader is ever popular judging by the success of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy and the upcoming "Batman vs. Superman" film where Ben Affleck will play Batman. But truth be told, there's already a Batman series on TV: "Person of Interest."

Fans of the CBS series might not see the show as a Batman-inspired story, but showrunners Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher) and Greg Plageman certainly do. As recently as the CBS executive session at press tour, CBS head Nina Tassler referred to the character of Sarah Shahi's Shaw as "Person of Interest's" Catwoman. In fact, in many ways "Person of Interest" draws parallels to "Batman Beyond," though obviously this series has a lot more to it than that.

In a recent interview with Nerdist, Nolan talks about how "Person of Interest" allows him to explore facets of Batman that he didn't have time for in "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises," both of which he co-wrote.

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"The one thing that we were never quite able to do in the Batman movies, you never quite got that quintessential Batman moment of him rescuing a person from a banal, ordinary act of violence. The moment that that character had devoted himself to," Nolan says. "So Batman's choice to get out there and intervene in these irrelevant crimes, crimes that don't matter to anyone except for him for emotional reasons and the people who are involved with them. The extinguishing of worlds, one person at a time and trying to fight against that was a theme that I felt was a really great and really durable one and one I wanted to continue exploring."

He continues, "[I] saw a great opportunity [with 'Person of Interest'] to get in there and tell fun stories about the kind of banal, hideous violence that occurs daily in this heightened, comic book way. Which was a language I was very comfortable speaking in after ten years of prepping those movies."

Maybe it's the guise of just being another CBS crime procedural that makes "Person of Interest" work better as a comic book-inspired story than, say, "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" or The WB's short-lived 2002 series "Birds of Prey." And "Person of Interest" is about a lot more than just a crime fighter finding the bad guys; it's about life in the information age and the way that strips away the privacy around us. "Person of Interest" is a continued success for CBS because it's an amalgamation of an array of subjects that keep audiences interested while presenting them in a fun, digestible manner.

But it's also why "Gotham" doesn't need to show the case-of-the-week life of an adult Batman. Viewers already have him in the form of the cape and cowl-less Jim Caviezel's John Reese. If you're looking for a great comic book-inspired TV series, start catching up on "Person of Interest."

"Person of Interest" airs Tuesdays on CBS at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Photo/Video credit: CBS