Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for the Gotham Knights pilot.There are Easter eggs in plenty to be found in the Gotham Knights premiere, referencing both DC Comics and other Batman adaptations. Set in a world apart from the Earth-Prime setting of the Arrowverse, Gotham Knights centers upon a group of teenagers who find themselves framed for the murder of Bruce Wayne, whose secret life as Batman has been exposed to the world. With chaos threatening to overtake Gotham City and a sinister organization plotting to bring about their own brand of order, the teens must become the heroes Gotham deserves in its darkest hour.
While the early trailers for Gotham Knights drew fire from those disinterested in another Batman show without Batman, like Batwoman or Gotham, Gotham Knights has proven incredibly faithful to the source material. The story draws deeply upon the Batmancomics of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, utilizing characters they created. The show also borrows elements from earlier Batman movies and cartoons, offering homage to what came before, while simultaneously building something new with the Batman mythology.
10 GCPD Blimps
The opening shots showing Gotham City in all its squalor feature a number of prominent blimps in the background, which sport the GCPD logo. This is a nod to Batman: The Animated Series, where the Gotham City Police Department used the old-fashioned air ships as patrol vehicles. This served to give Batman: TAS a timeless quality and a distinctive sense of style, which nailed the Dark Knight perfectly and influenced every Batman adaptation that followed. The use of police blimps in Gotham Knights serves a similar purpose, immediately setting it apart visually from the Gotham City of Batwoman.
9 Gotham Academy
First introduced in The Batman animated series episode “Team Penguin,” Gotham Academy is the most prestigious private school in Gotham City. Gotham Academy was later introduced into the Batman comics. It served as the setting of the series Gotham Academy, which centered around a group of teen sleuths exploring the weird history of the school and Gotham City. Turner Hayes, Stephanie Brown and Carrie Kelley are all established as students in Gotham Knights‘ version of Gotham Academy. The final scene shows the teens establishing a base in an abandoned clock tower, which seems to be inspired by a similar tower in the Gotham Academy comics.
8 Wayne Manor and Wayne Tower
The stately home of Batman, Wayne Manor, and Bruce Wayne’s office on the top floor of Wayne Tower both figure prominently in the Gotham Knights premiere. Bruce Wayne is observed looking down on the city in from his office window in the episode’s opening montage, as Turner Hayes throws a party to celebrate his going to State Finals in fencing at Wayne Manor. Later, Bruce Wayne’s body is discovered outside Wayne Tower, having apparently been thrown through his office window.
7 Like Father, Like Daughter
As Harper Row, Cullen Row and Duela Doe make their escape from Wayne Tower after discovering the broken window in Bruce Wayne’s office and determining that they have been framed for Bruce Wayne’s murder, they decide to steal a police car. As the teens drive off, the Joker’s Daughter playfully sticks her head out the car window while wearing a police hat. This mimics a similar scene involving The Joker in The Dark Knight, where the Clown Prince of Crime stole a police car after escaping custody and drove off with his head sticking out the window.
Located across the Gotham River from the islands making up Gotham City proper, the Burnside borough was introduced in the 2012 Batgirl comic as a gentrified neighborhood that had become the hot spot for tech start-ups. The Burnside borough of Gotham Knights does not enjoy the same sterling reputation. A news report on Bruce Wayne’s funeral mentions that he adopted Turner Hayes from Burnside, describing the neighborhood as a slum. Turner is not any more flattering in the speech he gives at Bruce Wayne’s funeral, speaking of how his father “took a scared, broken kid from the worst part of Gotham, and raised me as his own.”
5 The Narrows
Created for the Gotham City of Batman Begins, The Narrows were later introduced into the Batman comics. The Narrows were named for the many closed-off alleys and corridors decorating the urban district, which was a well-known haven for Gotham City’s worst gangs. The neighborhood was mentioned in Gotham Knights‘ premiere as the site of the worst rioting in Gotham City following Bruce Wayne’s funeral.
4 The Mutant Gang
The same news report detailing the rioting in the wake of Batman’s death makes mention of the Mutant Gang, who claimed responsibility for the fires that engulfed The Narrows. The report also shows several gang members wearing distinctive sunglasses looting The Narrows. These men will be readily identified by fans of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as members of the Mutant Gang, as their costumes are perfectly modeled on Frank Miller’s designs from the classic graphic novel.
3 Carrie Kelley’s Origin References The Dark Knight Returns
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is referenced once again near the end of the Gotham Knights premiere, when Carrie Kelley, revealed as the Robin to this world’s Batman, tells Turner Hayes of how she came to be trained as the Dark Knight’s squire. Carrie explains that she had already begun patrolling her neighborhood as a solo vigilante when she stumbled across Batman fighting the Mutant Gang. She pulled the wounded Batman to safety, earning his trust. This is similar to how the Carrie Kelley of The Dark Knight Returns was officially recruited as Batman’s new Robin, though she stepped in to help Batman directly as he fought the Mutant leader.
2 The Court Of Owls Nursery Rhyme
Near the end of the Gotham Knights premiere, the teens discover that the watch they took from the dirty cop who tried to kill them has a distinctive design on the back. Duela identifies this as the Court of Owls’ insignia. She tells the other teens of a nursery rhyme that “echoes through the halls of Arkham,” warning people to “speak not a whispered word of them, or they’ll send the Talon for your head.” Beyond confirming the chief villains of Gotham Knights, the poem references the Scott Snyder Batman comics that introduced the Court of Owls as the secret society that rules Gotham City from the shadows.
1 Cressida Clarke
The final montage of the Gotham Knights premiere reveals that Cressida Clarke, who replaced Alfred Pennyworth as Bruce Wayne’s chief aide, is secretly in the service of the Court of Owls. While this revelation is well-played, comic book readers might see the twist coming if they recall James Tynion IV’s 2021 series, The Joker. That comic introduced the character of Cressida Clarke as an agent of the Court of Owls, who hired Jim Gordon to drive the Clown Prince of Crime out of hiding.
Gotham Knights season 1 continues on Tuesdays on The CW.
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