Ways Gotham is better than most DC movies

It's no secret that the DC Extended Universe is experiencing some pretty serious growing pains. From negative critical reviews of their blockbuster efforts, to reports of intense studio meddling clouding the overall vision for the universe, DC's films haven't had an auspicious start. Fortunately, DC's television efforts are a completely different story, with Fox's Gotham being a clear stand-out. Here are a few ways Gotham is better than most DC movies.

Why so serious?

The main issue with most of DC's films, even through the forced silliness of Suicide Squad, is that they take themselves very seriously. Rather than embrace the bright colors and ultra-drama of the average comic book, everything is bleak and artsy. In the DCEU, everything is important, all of the time. On the other hand, Gotham is pretty much all glorious fluff, and it embraces this fact. Even though James Gordon is a grim, unsmiling spectacle of a human being, he still plays it off with more humanity than Clark Kent ever did. There's a levity in how unabashedly over-the-top everything is in Gotham, and it's something that the DCEU needs to embrace. We're talking about comic books, after all. We don't need to recreate the genre; it's been doing fine for years. It's totally okay to have a villain who kills people by tying them to balloons. Promise.

It's self-contained

Gotham exists completely in its own weird continuity. It's definitely not a story about Batman, even though the thread of young Bruce Wayne exposing the corruption within his own family's company runs strong. You won't find a way to shoehorn this Bruce into familiar DC Comics continuity. The ages of characters are way off, origin stories don't match up, and Gotham City exists in a world devoid of superheroes. And because Gotham doesn't have to concern itself with any other branches of DC's media empire, it doesn't have to make any compromises for continuity. It exists as its own story. Compared to the DCEU's oppressive need to fit into decades of DC Comics history, it's a huge relief. We get forgettable characters like Fish Mooney, but we also get so much more legroom for Gotham to just get weird.

Likable heroes

Because the DCEU is attempting to elevate the superhero genre into new places, it tends to treat all of its heroes and villains as gods. While that has its place, it makes their A-list heroes unrelatable. Few people saw Man of Steel and came away really liking DC's most amicable hero. On the other hand, Gotham's everyman heroes are guys you want to see more of. Detective Harvey Bullock has never been more sympathetic, and his relationship with James Gordon feels authentic. It's possible that the DCEU will actually bring something more enjoyable to the table with Wonder Woman or The Flash, but we're not really holding our breath. We'll leave that for Aquaman. He's probably good at that.

Better villains

Gotham's selection of villains (and anti-heroes) is choice; Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Catwoman, Hugo Strange, and Scarecrow have shown up, along with plenty of others. They're all low-level weirdos when it comes to the grand scheme of villains, but they're a great place to start building a universe. Meanwhile, the DCEU decided to bust out Doomsday during their very first big theatrical team-up and will be bringing obscure villain Steppenwolf to the screen for Justice League. Maybe it's a case of the DCEU trying to be more bombastic than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially since the comparisons are inevitable, but the reason people love the MCU is because it's fun, not because it's big. Gotham got the memo; the DCEU did not. And now, The Penguin and The Riddler are the best nerd team-up that TV has ever seen.

Better actors

Even though Ben Affleck is perfectly cast as Batman, everyone else in the DCEU has just kind of fallen flat. Henry Cavill never seems comfortable in Superman's alien mesh suit, and Jesse Eisenberg seems way too comfortable as a needlessly animated Lex Luthor. While these guys may be great actors in their own right, the DCEU feels consistently miscast. Yes, these characters are all burdened by decades of comics which they have to live up to, but everyone in Gotham has to deal with the same weighty history. Somehow, Gotham thrives, and it has more than just a little to do with the exemplary performances of their actors having fallen into perfect roles. Even whiny little Bruce is a believable pre-badass Bruce Wayne.

We only have one direct comparison between Gotham and DCEU characters, and that's The Joker. Gotham introduced the charmingly sociopathic Jerome, a villain who may come back from the dead as The Joker … or at least the inspiration for the real Joker. Either way, actor Cameron Monaghan nailed the role, and he didn't even have to send a dead pig to his castmates.

Better story

We haven't had a whole lot of time for the DCEU's main story arc to develop, but from what we've seen and what the critics have said, it's mostly just a confused mess. It's true that most TV series will have a lot more time and room to develop a more complex and interesting story than a movie … but there are plenty of great movies with great stories. It's not impossible to create an awesome and enjoyable character in under two hours. (Ahem, Ant-Man.) After three movies, no one really seems to be excited about what happens next in the DCEU. The only question on everyone's lips is, "Will the next one finally be good?" Meanwhile, Gotham's biggest complaint is that it's not about Batman, and those people don't seem to realize that it's literally a show about the subject of its title. It's not exactly a surprise. Reading is power.