In the Gotham TV series, Bruce Wayne is 12 years old when his parents are murdered.

The show then introduces a number of other characters from the Batman continuity who will go on to become Bruce's contemporaries. Some, like Poison Ivy and Selina Kyle, are around the same age as Bruce. Others, like Jim Gordon and Alfred, we would expect to be older than Bruce since they're getting toward/beyond retirement age by the time Batman comes to town.

However there are a lot of characters such as Zsasz, Edward Nigma and others (possibly a lot of others, I'm only up to s01e11) who are a lot older than Bruce. Late twenties, you'd guess. So by the time Bruce is old enough to fight them as Batman, even as a very young Batman, they'd be in middle age.

This would seem to pose something of a continuity problem, especially for physically active villains like Zsasz. Has anyone on the TV show made any comment about how this might be resolved? Is there anything from other Batman franchises (comics, movies, etc) suggesting some of these villains are older than they appear?

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    Isn't it only really a continuity problem if the show ever actually fits into other materials? So far, there has been no mention of Gotham ever intertwining with any other version of Batman or any other DC Universe.
    – phantom42
    May 13, 2015 at 13:30
  • @phantom42 That's a fair point. It still seems a little odd, though, given the effort made to tie in with existing versions of the continuity in other respects.
    – Bob Tway
    May 13, 2015 at 13:32
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    @MattThrower There's a logistical aspect to it; you can't have half the cast be child actors, and there are only so many times you can do "dad of the character you know". They've already done that one three times (that I can remember off-hand), but how do you do Riddler's dad? May 13, 2015 at 15:33
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    @Zommuter Black Mask is another, but I can't remember who I meant as the third. Possibly I was referring to John Grayson, but two years after the fact I can no longer recall Jun 13, 2017 at 16:10
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    Note that according to the comics, Jim Gordon should be much older than Harvey Bullock and Sarah Essen, since as Commissioner he outranks them both. With his white hair and adult daughter, he's probably the oldest person in Batman's circle, but on the show he's one of the younger adults. Jul 28, 2017 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


It's a common thing...

Altering relative ages isn't new in superhero stories, they're just doing it a lot more often on this show. For example, sometimes Superman is older than Batman (he's often the original superhero), usually they're peers, and sometimes (like in the BvS movie) Batman is substantially older.

Few comic book characters have fixed ages, and the needs of any given story will generally outweigh whatever minor traditions have developed. In Batman Forever, Edward Nygma works for Bruce Wayne and seems somewhat younger than him, while in other stories they seem more like peers. It's just up to the writer, and what they think would serve the story best.

...and it won't matter as much when Bruce gets older

All of Batman's love interests on Gotham (such as Selina and Ivy) are around his age, and the difference between young Bruce and older villains will naturally diminish as he gets older.

For example, Cory Michael Smith (who plays Edward Nygma aka the Riddler) is currently 28, meaning the character could be, say, 26-30. That makes him 14-18 years older than 12-year-old Bruce. That's a lot older for a kid, but imagine the difference by the time he became Batman. Would you have a problem with a 20-year-old newly-minted Batman fighting a 34-year-old Riddler? Probably not. Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey were both 33 when they played The Riddler.

Even a 30-year-old Batman fighting a 44-year-old Riddler wouldn't be that weird. He's not a brute-force fighter, so a Riddler with some grey at his temples might be kind of cool. Alan Rickman was 42 when he played the genius-villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

Yeah, Zsasz is old enough that he might have a hard time keeping up with Batman, but a 45-year-old psychopath with knives can still be plenty terrifying. Anthony Hopkins was even older than that (he was 54) when he played Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Still don't believe me? Then go watch John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer on Dexter. He was 64.

Ian McKellen was 61 when he played Magneto in X-Men (2000), but if Magneto was 10-12 years old during WWII, he should have been more like 70. That's a 9-year difference, which is pretty close to some of the age shifts on Gotham. It's just not as notable, because he was older.


To build on Nerrolken's answer, take a look at the history of Batman villains in Film and TV:

Batman (1966): Both Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith were 59 when they fought a 38-year old Adam West.

Batman (1989): Jack Nicholson (52) vs. Michael Keaton (38)

Batman Returns: Danny DeVito (48) vs. Michael Keaton (41)

Batman Forever: Tommy Lee Jones (49) vs. Val Kilmer (36)

Batman and Robin: Arnold Schwarzeneggar (50) vs. George Clooney (36)

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