A New Gotham? by Rachel Jones

This month I have to thank Rachel Jones for sending me her views comparing Gotham in The Batman directed by Matt Reeves with the Nolanverse Gotham she has previously written about.

Rachel writes:

Spoiler free addendum to my paper on worldbuilding in the Nolanverse, included in Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction (Luna Press Publishing 2021) reflecting on The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves.

The events of this film could quite easily play out in Nolan's Gotham. Wayne Tower is in the same place as the city centre, the dodgy mob bar is in the same location beneath an overpass. We also get the same broody, dark, steam-filled, and rainy Gotham which dominated the Nolanverse 

However this Gotham does have some differences. Focusing on Glasgow, rather than Manhattan, provides a more traditional, older looking city, in which historical events based around dynasties is more believable. Indeed, a revelation about Bruce's maternal family reveals that his family lineage is even more ingrained in this Gotham than Nolan's Gotham.

This Gotham also has a noticeable weakness. Now, I believe it is quite possible, indeed likely, that Nolan's Gotham had the same weakness, but it was not exploited, with Bane choosing to exploit the sewer system. The weakness is directly linked to the way the city was built and ultimately provides us with an opportunity to see Batman's softer side. This Batman is bigger, tougher, and more violent than Bale's, with his every step echoing through the theatre. But as Superman shows us that power can be innocent, this Batman shows us that even the most violent of masculinities can be gentle. In the end, no matter the means, love wins.

For Scottish viewers, a fun game of 'spot Glasgow' can be played. With obvious shots from across the city, particularly in a poignant and emotional scene towards the end of the film. The necropolis here provides the perfect background to reflect on the juxtaposition of love and death, both in the characters' lives, and indeed our own.

Thanks Rachel. Will definitely see this film when it makes it up to Orkney.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction  edited by Francesca Barbini and published by Luna Press Publishing (2021) is currently shortlisted for the BSFA non-fiction award


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