Gotham Scoop: Southland's Ben McKenzie Lands Lead Role in Fox's Batman Origin Series

Ben Mckenzie GothamWelcome to Gotham, bitch!

Southland/O.C. vet Ben McKenzie will play the lead role of a young Commissioner Detective James Gordon in Fox’s upcoming Batman origin series, TVLine has learned.

RELATED | Pilot Season 2014: Scoop on This Fall’s (Possible) New Shows and Who’s Starring In Them

Exec-produced and penned by The Mentalist‘s Bruno Heller, the one-hour drama promises to explore the origin stories of Commissioner Gordon and the DC Comics villains that made Gotham famous.

Last month at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Fox president Kevin Reilly confirmed that Gotham will also follow a young Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming Batman.

“This is all of the classic Batman characters, with a young Bruce Wayne, the Penguin, the Riddler [and] how they came to be,” he explained. “What events led up to [someone] becoming Catwoman…. all with Gotham teetering on the edge.

“This is not some adjunct companion series,” he added. “This is the Batman franchise, just backing it up [in chronology].”

Thoughts on the casting? Vote in the poll below then elaborate in the comments!

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  1. Laura says:

    The irony was that he was Batman in animated version of Batman: Year One.

    • wordsmith says:

      That had occurred to me as well. Between that role and his time as a cop on Southland, he seems pretty well prepared to take on Gotham.

    • JohnG says:

      I don’t think you know what irony means. It’s a coincidence, not irony.

      • wordsmith says:

        True. Casting Mark Hamill, AKA the definitive voice of the Joker, as James Gordon would have been ironic. Also casting Mark Hamill as a YOUNG James Gordon.

      • wingsstef says:

        Actually, I believe it’s neither irony nor coincidence. Being part of the Batman Universe before is likely one of the reasons he got the job. Well, I am intrigued.

  2. Jen says:

    Happy for Ben but I will probably skip this since I am not a Batman fan.

  3. spindae2 says:

    Nice casting! I think he is well suited for the role, I hope the pilot gets picked up it has a lot potential.

  4. Virgil says:

    I am cautiously optimistic about this choice. Secretly, I love it — but I’m not willing to commit to that publicly yet… The only question I have: which future Batman rogue will Adam Brody play?

    • wordsmith says:

      Mock if you want, but I could actually see him pulling off an interesting take on a pre-facepaint Joker – he’s got the right build and facial structure, and that sort of manic, twitchy energy. Riddler or Scarecrow would also be strong possibilities.

  5. Brett says:

    Love this casting – even though I’m still not sure about this show.

  6. Kreshb, Sweden says:

    I really wanted him back on tv, he is a great actor!

  7. Lauren says:

    He is such an underrated talent! Great casting!

  8. Esaul says:

    This might’ve been the only way to snare me into Gotham.

  9. Kate says:

    If only it was a CW series, then we could actually get a small screen Justice League, with Arrow and the up coming The Flash series. Also, it would probably have a better chance of lasting more than 1 season on the CW.

    • wordsmith says:

      You never know – Buffy and Angel crossed over regularly despite being on separate networks, though the lack of writers’ room synergy here makes this a little different.
      As for its survival chances, I’d say that Fox is just as safe a bet as the CW – with Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human, Gotham is very much within their current brand.

      • Jason says:

        Buffy and Angel never crossed over when they were on different networks until the very end when Buffy was ending it’s run was Angel alowed to show up! The Faith crossover doesn’t count becuase Eliza Dushku was not a regular cast member of either show!

        • wordsmith says:

          Why would that not count? A crossover is still a crossover even if it isn’t a regular character. Also, Willow totally pops up in Angel season 4, and as you mentioned, Angel is in the Buffy finale.

    • Mike R. says:

      They wouldn’t cross over even if it were on the same network, Gotham is a period piece per say with young Gordon and even younger Bruce Wayne, while as far as I am aware Batman is already Batman in Arrow, and soon to be the Flash.

      • wordsmith says:

        Thus far, I don’t think they’ve even acknowledged that Gotham exists in the Arrow/Flash TV universe, much less Batman.

        • Well they acknowledged Bludhaven which is the home of Dick Grayson who is Robin….so it does exist..

          • wordsmith says:

            They also mentioned Coast City, home of Green Lantern, but I’m betting he’s not going to be part of their canon, so I don’t think your premise is valid.

        • Vincent Ventrevski says:

          I doubt the CW are allowed to reference Batman without the rights, much like how The Avengers had to ignore Spiderman’s existence.

          • B says:

            Eh, that’s iffy. The Avengers ignored Spider-Man despite them being filmed simultaneously by the same studio. With parody law, a show could easily reference anything.

          • wingsstef says:

            Even though Spider-Man and The Avengers are both Marvel, the movies were not made by the same studio. The Spider-Man movies, including the newer Amazing Spider-Man series are made by Sony. Where as The Avengers is a Marvel Studios movie. It’s a movie rights issue. The reason Agents S,H.I.E.L.D can’t stay the word “mutant” has too do with Fox and their movie rights with The X-Men.

  10. Vinicius says:

    Happy for him, he was really solid during his time on the so underrated great gem that was Southland. Too bad he’s in a series that I have zero interest to watch, this is such a money hungy overdone concept, enough with the ‘origins’ stories out of comic books.

  11. I’d still like to know when the series is set. The 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s, or today.

    • Mike R. says:

      Good question, I imagine 90s since Bruce is 10ish

      • If he’s 10ish, that sets it in the 00’s. You’re not the only one who feels like the 90’s were 10 years ago, heh.

        • wingsstef says:

          Hmm… but wasn’t Bruce closer to 30 when he became Batman? It could still be 90s. Since the show said the show ends when he becomes Batman, I was wondering if they will occasionally swap out Batmans depending one format. Just speculation. When I think that 1994 was really twenty years ago, I blink. I don’t feel that I am old but when I think back realize I was in 8th grade twenty years ago, it still seems crazy to me. Ha ha.

          • Bruce may be 27 when he becomes Batman, so yeah, close to 30. If he’s 12 now, he was born in 2002 and would become Batman in 2029.

          • wingsstef says:

            True, but I was basing on now being the era when Batman would be 40ish like the upcoming movie. I could be totally wrong, of course. Like I a said, just a theory.

          • Bruce will be 40ish but he’ll have been Batman for a considerable amount of time. He’s not just now becoming Batman.

          • wingsstef says:

            I know the 40ish Batman in the upcoming movie is supposed to an established Batman. I was going on the theory that the Gotham series would be take place in the movie’s “past”. Maybe I read the above quote wrong.

          • Alan says:

            nope it has nothing to do with the movies, warner brothers various different divisions have had nothing to do with each other in the development of their tv shows and movies; i would be very surprised to see their movies and films connected at this stage.

  12. e says:

    i would have had no interest in checking this show out, but with ben mckenzie as the lead? sign me up!

  13. Sheldon W. says:

    I can see his Detective Gordon growing into Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon.

    Great choice!

  14. Curt says:

    love him but who’s Batman??? why isnt HE batman?

  15. Karen says:

    Finally I have Ryan Atwood back on my screen again :) You have been missed my dear boy

  16. CBWBDK1 says:

    Awesome casting!! I hope the casting of young bruce wayne is just as awesome.

  17. Joey says:

    Definitely think this could work. I’ll be looking forward to it for sure.

  18. jimbo says:

    I’m so happy for him, he’s always been a down-to-earth, humble and all around cool dude (see also his newest tweet: “All I can promise is I will do my best not to screw this up. Can’t wait to get to work.”) Will definitely be watching this now that he’s in.

  19. Fernanda says:

    Seth Cohen will probably commit suicide when he heard about Ryan Atwood as the new Jim Gordon.

  20. Drew says:

    Yet another actor who I would have preferred as Batman over Affleck… though I think I’ve seen this guy in maybe one movie a long time ago.
    Bottom line is that there are very few people who would have been a worse choice than Affleck.
    As for him playing Gordon… okay. I can see it in his look, but I will have to see about the acting.

    • Drew says:

      Oh, and I agree that is is stupid to put this on a network the is completely isolated from the other DC shows. DC owns the comic book tv market but instead of building one giant machine, they’re scattering their energy. Why? Fox may get to more tv screens and Batman is a bigger name, but is it worth weakening the overall DC universe?

  21. Jillian says:

    Exciting news! I seriously cannot wait for this show!

  22. Jason says:

    “This is not some adjunct companion series,” he added. “This is the Batman franchise, just backing it up [in chronology].”

    That impressed me the most… Don’t re-boot the Batman mythology for me, give me something we haven’t had yet. TV is the perfect vehicle for this kind of project, but the casting of the young Bruce Wayne will be just as key as the lead actor.

  23. Talia says:

    Anyone who doubts this casting should watch Ben in Southland. Nuff said

  24. CJ says:

    Great news, or GREATEST news?! :)

  25. Joey says:

    Great news! Happy Ben is coming back to TV after Southland sadly ended. He was great as voice of Bruce/Batman in Batman: Year One animated movie. I think he’ll do great as James Gordon on show.

  26. Teejay says:

    I’d never watch a Gotham-Batman kind of series, but Ben McKenzie as the lead? Won’t miss. Excellent that he’s got the lead. After the Heller pilot Ben made last year didn’t go to series, this had better make up for it!

  27. David4 says:

    Now you have my attention.

  28. Wayne Adney Capehart says:

    A Gotham-Batman early years was touted to execs of CW a little over ten yrs. ago and was passed up in favor of the back-up, being obviously, the equally and more popular “SMALLVILLE”. I put that in big caps to show that Gotham has some shoes to fill and viewers to grapple hook and make smile like the Joker if they want to last ten seasons or close to it. It will definitely be much harder to create the villains before they were bad or good as in Catwoman’s case at times. The main concern is what about Robin, surely they wouldn’t attempt to bring him in before Bruce Wayne becomes the Batman which will mostly likely happen in the last season during the last episodes of the entire show. Then again bringing in Lois Lane early for SMALLVILLE work so maybe Robin early will work too assuming he’s out of his diapers, lol. Yeah and the execs do know “following chronology” does not mean follow it to the letter “T”. You have to re-order events and re-arrange comic plots to work for the show. I just hope they realize that. Ya know take example from SMALLVILLE but please Fox be original, altogether if possible. If Bones is any indications of Fox’s lasting success then Gotham will have us donning capes, swinging on ropes and throwing bat-er-rangs at evil doers.

    • Vincent Ventrevski says:

      You lost the argument when you held up Smallville as the example of how to do a superhero series… I’m sure you meant Arrow.

  29. Wayne Adney Capehart says:

    I forgot to say that despite my mention of Superman or should I say one of his shows…I actually am inspired by Batman and recognize him as my comicbook icon. i just feel a connection to him period.

  30. TinLV says:

    I’m still trying to get my head around the concept of a young Jim Gordon, but I love this casting, so will check it out if it becomes a series.

  31. Andrew D says:

    I was going to tune in to see Gothham regardless, but with Ben McKenize signed on you’ve definitely got my attention. Very happy to see him back on the small screen. (RIP Southland)

  32. Alan says:

    nice casting, shame they are still going with a pre-batman gotham though, i would much rather seeing a series about the cops who work in gotham having to deal with the fact that a guy in a costume is better at doing their job than them; also so many batman villains have origins that tie into batman being on the scene that having to change them to suit this will suck.

  33. ragincajun says:

    Great casting, but I wonder if CBS wanted him for the role of Agent Lasalle on NCIS NOLA and that is the reason that role is the only one that has not been cast yet. Benjamin would have been good on that as well, but maybe he didn’t want to be tied down to anything more than 13 episodes a year?

  34. alistaircrane says:

    I have never been more excited about a new show as I am for Gotham! I guess, though, with this casting, we won’t be seeing Barbara Gordon unless she’s a toddler.

  35. b says:

    “This is not some adjunct companion series,” he added. “This is the Batman franchise, just backing it up [in chronology].”
    Dig at SHIELD much? Love it, Shield sucks.

    • wingsstef says:

      But Shield does not suck. *wink* Though, to be fair Marvel has often tried to “trick” people in reading other titles in their elaborate crossovers. I like Batman, but admit I am more a Marvel Universe girl.

      • Vincent Ventrevski says:

        Shield is getting better every week. I know few shows which were brilliant out of the gate (not counting Firefly or AD)

  36. alistaircrane says:

    I hope they follow the Year One storyline and depict his affair with Sarah Essen. Also crossing my fingers we’ll see Renee Montoya and Harvey Bullock as part of the GCPD.

    • Alan says:

      if they do year one it will have to be about 15 years into the show when the kid they cast as bruce wayne is finally old enough to stop looking laughable in a batsuit.

      • alistaircrane says:

        I guess you’ve never watched a tv show based on a movie or series of books before. They aren’t going to do direct adaptations of particular stories. They will likely take elements from a variety of Batman stories, along with their own ideas, to craft Gotham. Gordon’s affair with Essen can easily be a first-season storyline, and ought to be, as it’s essential to Gordon’s character.

  37. EJ386 says:

    Awesome! McKenzie has been one of my favourite actors ever since Ryan Atwood.

  38. sarah says:

    Love Ben so I may check it out.

  39. NYCer4Life says:

    Love, love, love Benjie M.!!!