This isn’t about a particular episode, and these screenshots are from two separate stories. The point of this post is to talk about how I’ve never really thought about Gotham being set in a particular point in time, other than the 20th century. Gothamites have electricity, and TV news, and experiments that turn people into Bane and Poison Ivy. Freeze makes an underwater city in one episode, and that takes some serious hydro-engineering. How do you bring in air? How do you take out trash? Sidetracked.
In the first of these two shots, Bruce Wayne holds a comically large cellphone.
Batman: The Animated Series ran from 1992-1995, and during that time, cell phones were big. It’s funny to see them in 2012, but that’s fine. The realization that I’m having is that Gotham exists in several points in history all at once, and we can choose to focus on whichever era is convenient to the storyline.
The second frame features a crate full of tommy guns marked as ‘US Army’ that are about to be stolen. Technically, tommy guns were used by the army, but only way back in WWI. The guns became associated with mobsters in popular culture because of bootleggers during Prohibition (1920-1933). I’ve always associated tommy guns (or Chicago Typewriters, as they are adorably known) with mobsters, and since Batman has the Dummy as a villain, it makes sense that two-bit crooks would want to get their hands on them in the DC Universe.
Putting the two frames together, Gotham is in the 1920s, and the 1990s, and in the Dark Knight Rises which I finally just saw, Batman uses a gun with an EMP to knock out light fixtures and technology by aiming at it. That sort of advanced technology seems just as home in Gotham as ninja smoke-bombs, weaponized umbrellas, and mobsters in pinstripes. I don’t know why it’s okay, but it is. You can’t physically travel to Gotham in the real world, so I guess it doesn’t matter than you can’t travel there in time either.
Gotham and the formula needed to create Batman are not limited by a specific historical event. Dick Tracy, Indiana Jones, Sam Spade and the Shadow all seem locked in a particular time, but Batman casually moves forward with the march of time, drawing upon any and all resources that may benefit the great detective.
P.S. Make up some threats involving the Chicago Typewriter and say them in an old timey. It will improve your day. “Get outta here before I get the urge to write a letter to my grandmother.”November 28, 2012