March is an exciting month for new DC content across film and television. Not only is Shazam! Fury of the Gods arriving in theaters on March 17, the CW has two comic book premieres to run alongside the final season of The Flash. “Super Knights”, a two-hour block of high-flying fun, arrives March 14, bringing all the action from the world of two DC mainstays. Superman & Lois returns for its third season (check out our review of the first two episodes) and the newest Bat-family arrives on CW’s Gotham Knights.
The creators of the CW’s Gotham Knights are not strangers to the world of Batman and the seedy underbelly of Gotham. James Storteraux and Chad Fiveash have worked together on series such as Kypton, Gotham, and Batwoman. Natalie Abrams, the third individual bringing Gotham Knights to life, was a staff writer/story editor on Batwoman. Together, they are spinning a new Batman tale without the Dark Knight front and center.
Is the CW’s Gotham Knights worth your time? Or should you spend your time watching something else? Let’s explore what to expect from the first six episodes of Gotham Knights.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from CW’s Gotham Knights season 1 are below!]
A mystery’s afoot
Turner Hayes (Oscar Morgan) has the perfect life from the outside perspective. He’s the adopted son of Bruce Wayne, one of the richest men in Gotham. He also attends a private school where he’s popular. That being said, he’s lonely. Turner craves attention from his father and will do just about anything to get that.
Bruce forgets to show up to Turner’s fencing competition and Turner throws a rager at the Wayne Mansion. Typical attention-seeking behavior from children with absent parents. It would be one thing if this party worked, however, Turner wasn’t expecting to get news that his father has been killed.
Thrown out a window at Wayne Enterprises with his superhero identity exposed, Bruce Wayne was killed by someone. But who exactly? That’s a great question and one that Harvey Dent (Misha Collins) intends to get to the bottom of.
Found at the scene of the crime are Duela (Olivia Rose Keegan), the daughter of the Joker, and siblings Harper (Fallon Smythe) and Cullen Row (Tyler DiChiara). They seem like the likeliest suspects, having broken into Bruce’s office to steal something. However, the trio of teens insists they were set up. Paid by an anonymous benefactor to show up at the crime scene, no one knows who is behind the murder.
Things go from bad to worse for Turner Hayes in Gotham Knights
Turner, learning that his father is Batman and has significant resources, decides to take matters into his own hands. He wants to find out who is responsible for his father’s murder and deliver his own form of justice. Joining him is best friend Stephanie Brown (Anna Lore), the daughter of Cluemaster and a computer whiz.
Together, the friends discover who paid Duela, Harper, and Cullen, and therefore ultimately responsible for the death of Bruce Wayne. To both of their shock, Turner’s name is attached to the account, meaning he’s the number one suspect from the Gotham City Police. After being taken into custody, Turner meets up with the other teens being framed for Bruce’s murder.
All four of the teens agree that something bigger is going on and they’re all stuck in the middle of it. They could easily give into this dastardly scheme, or they can work together to clear their names and find the one responsible for the chaos.
Thankfully they have some help, as Stephanie isn’t one to give up on a friend. They are also joined by Carrie Kelley (Navia Robinson), the newest Robin working with Batman. Working together will prove to be difficult, with so many different personalities competing against each other.
But they will need to learn how if they want to stay one step ahead of a villain that is both powerful and everywhere. The Court of Owls is terrifying in that they see and control everything. Our heroes can never be sure who to trust or how far this conspiracy to kill Bruce Wayne goes.
The good and the bad of the CW’s Gotham Knights
I didn’t have high hopes for this series before I started watching it. As someone who was a fan of the Batwoman series, I didn’t see how another Batman-related series with even lesser-known characters could do better. And yet Gotham Knights has pleasantly surprised me.
Putting it simply, it’s not awful. The story is pretty good with a good mystery to solve. Sure, it feels like a stretch to include it with Batman IP, but that doesn’t stop it from being kinda fun. Unfortunately, it also isn’t spectacular. There are hints of a stellar series there, but the pieces aren’t quite assembled yet to feel fantastic yet.
Gotham Knights is obviously aimed at a young adult/teen audience. The drama between the teens within the show is in line with something like Riverdale. Annoying at times and yet I couldn’t look away. I found myself craving more at the end of the six episodes. So something about the formula of Gotham Knights is working, even if I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Navia Robinson is a standout as Carrie Kelley. Her interpretation of Robin is vastly different than any Robin I’m used to, but she makes this role her own. She is wicked intelligent, super resourceful, and talented beyond her years. Robinson is a talent who makes Robin look cool and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for Carrie.
I also enjoyed Anna Lore as Stephanie Brown quite a lot as well. She’s intelligent and isn’t afraid to show it. There’s a confidence in her that is addictive to watch. She’s loyal to a fault, which can cause its own set of problems. She has a very Veronica Mars feel to her, which I highly approve of. Lore seems like she’s having fun with the role, which makes watching her scenes much more enjoyable.
Fallon Smythe and Tyler DiChiara as Harper and Cullen respectively might be my favorite characters of the entire series. Coming from a horrid home life, these siblings go to the ends of the Earth to support and protect each other. I found myself excited to see them on screen and wishing there were more of them constantly.
Some of the other casting choices seemed like odd fits, not quite hitting the mark I think they wanted. I think there’s still time for everyone to grow into their roles. Though none were so bad that I felt I couldn’t enjoy the show.
It also felt odd to have a Batman-related show with so few connections to the Batman comics. With the exception of a few names borrowed from the pages of DC, you could easily remove the DC logo and still have the series. The only real connection, besides the dead Batman himself, is Harvey Dent and the mention of Joker as Deula’s father. There’s no Alfred, no Commissioner Gordon, and no appearance of previous members of the Batman family. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons for this, but it just feels odd in the end.
Final thoughts on CW’s Gotham Knights
This show was not what I thought it was going to be. It definitely is a younger skewed, high school drama-esque series that screams the CW from the rooftop. However, it was also fun as hell to watch with some fantastic castings to help alleviate any complaints. There’s also plenty of action and a good mystery in which to get lost in solving. It has some great characters and character moments. It’s a fun, but perhaps messy, show that, if you’re like me, you’ll be needing to tune in every week.
Gotham Knights arrives on the CW on March 14. Are you planning to check it out? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of the first two episodes of Superman & Lois season 3.