Photo: Duarte Amaral Netto

“There are no heroes in Gotham”: Subverting the Superhero Narrative and Depicting Dystopian Landscapes in Gotham.

Rhiannon McHarrie

University of Northampton

Abstract | The proposed essay explores how subverting the superhero narrative allows FOX’s Gotham (2014-2019) an opportunity to develop the world of dystopia through its characters and themes. This essay will look at how Gotham achieves this dystopia through the use of setting, storyline, and character in order to portray two different dystopian narratives over the course of the show’s five seasons. With a narrative that focuses on villains, Gotham presents a gritty realism to the story which allows it to reflect certain cultural fears and anxieties to its audience. The series establishes its dystopian landscapes through the use of a capitalist regime that offers an in-depth look at the corruption of power and places its storylines as an example of how that regime functions within the city of Gotham in order to present a capitalist ideology through its characters. This essay will draw parallels from the narrative arcs in Gotham to the events of 9/11 and examine how the show uses that iconography to present a dystopia that offers a sense of realism. It will conclude by demonstrating the success of Gotham as a dystopia and examine how it presents alternatives to that dystopia within its narrative.

Keywords | Gotham, capitalism, dystopia, villains, ideology.