Fox are making a Batman prequel entitled Gotham, focusing on cop James Gordon before he became the city's grizzled Commissioner. At the Television Critics Associates press tour, Fox chairman Kevin Reilly dropped more details about this superhero drama—which probably won't feature superheroes, for awhile.
The big take-homes are: Gotham will feature Bruce Wayne as a 12-year-old orphan (with Gordon perhaps trying to catch the man who murdered his parents), and various Bat-villains will be appearing before they decided to wear costumes (e.g. The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, The Penguin). Reilly confirmed they have a licensing deal with Warner Bros. that enables them to use all of the franchise's famous characters, but that "... we're not starting in [a] world where the villains are in costume. You see markers for it that are delicious. You see... the evolution and eccentricity where they become those characters. We don’t start off with capes and costumes."
This suggests Gotham will occasionally turn its attention to characters like Jack Napier (callous gangster before toxic chemicals turns him into a homicidal clown?), Oswald Cobblepott (before his bird-like deformities inspire an evil alter-ego?), Selena Kyle (meek secretary turned thief?), and politician Harvey Dent (before his split personality disorder), etc.
I'm not against this approach, but part of me wonders how long Bat-fans will stick with a "superhero drama" that doesn't really feature superheroes. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D already appears to be struggling because it eschews having superheroes on its team. I know Smallville went years before Clark Kent adorned the iconic Superman suit, but he had Godlike powers from the very first episode. Gotham will apparently build towards Bruce Wayne deciding to become the Caped Crusader (meaning seasons will likely jump ahead in time occasionally, so teenage Bruce reaches adulthood by the final year of broadcast.).
We'll have to see how the writers tackle what appear to be some potential pitfalls and danger areas. Of course, at least Gotham will be doing something with the DC Comics characters we haven't seen before in live-action (exploring the origins of the Bat-villains in greater detail, as a prequel seen through Jim Gordon's eyes).
It's just that my enthusiasm would be quadrupled if Fox simply made a full-blown Batman TV show; although that would both eclipse DC Comics' Arrow series on The CW, and maybe sit awkwardly alongside whatever Zak Snyder does with his Batman vs Superman movie. Mind you, Smallville co-existed with Superman Returns in 2006 and it didn't split the fanbase.
GOTHAM will premiere later this year, with a pilot written by Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) and directed by executive producer Danny Canon (Nikita, The Tomorrow People).