'Gotham' Season 4 Theories: What will happen when the Batman prequel returns?

Jeff Neumann /Fox

Season three of Gotham came to an end Monday night, and now more than ever, the series' major characters are beginning to resemble their comic counterparts. The two-part season finale was more or less a fitting end to the nearly two-season Court of Owls narrative, creating what very much felt like a paradigm shift for the Batman prequel.

[Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for season three of Gotham.]

Throughout Gotham's first three seasons, the series took a considerable amount of creative liberty with its characters — especially the villains. They often strayed too far from the history laid out in the comics as the Fox series was committed to introducing major Batman villains and allies years before they would appear in the graphic novels.

To date, Gotham has introduced the Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Hugo Strange, Mr. Freeze and quite a few other Batman adversaries, all before Bruce Wayne even took baby steps toward becoming the Caped Crusader. But as season three progressed, Bruce Wayne matured, and now the young billionaire seems to be beginning the journey that will lead him to become the Batman.

Will Batman appear in season four?

Is this the first Batman sighting on 'Gotham'? Gotham

As is often the case in comics, there have been more than a few accounts of Batman's origin. The most iconic, though, is likely Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. The graphic novel, which largely served as the inspiration for Christopher Nolan's acclaimed Batman Begins, chronicled Bruce Wayne's first year as a vigilante in Gotham. So, what does this have to do with Fox's Gotham?

Well, Year One is always a good place to start when discussing Batman's origin. In the graphic novel, Bruce Wayne returns from training abroad at the ripe age of 25. In Gotham, Wayne is only a teenager, and thus would appear to be a few years away from donning the famous cape and cowl. Of course, Gotham does not need to follow Year One exactly. In fact, the series has already accelerated through some of the major moments in that graphic novel.

Like in Batman Begins, Year One portrayed mob boss Carmine Falcone as the leader of crime in Gotham. In Gotham, Falcone has largely already come and gone, and for much of the last few years has been replaced by Penguin as the the city's crime boss. Further, on Gotham, Bruce Wayne has already spent time training abroad — though his training involved him being kidnapped and brainwashed.

It could be that the series is replacing Wayne's training in the comics with his short stint with the Temple Shaman in season three. The final shot of season three is of Bruce Wayne standing above a rooftop and removing a ski mask. This comes just moments after he prevented a mugging that resembled the death of his parents in the opening episode. So, even if we do not see Batman in season four of Gotham, it certainly appears that we are getting close.

Who will be the villain?

Source: YouTube

While plans can always change, it looks like Ra's al Ghul will be Gotham's main villain going forward. It was long teased, but we learned officially in the season finale that Ra's al Ghul was pulling the Court of Owls' strings, and in addition to destroying Gotham, his plan was to groom Bruce Wayne to be his heir. This is a plot that not only resembles the comics, but Nolan's Batman Begins, providing further evidence that we may be close to seeing Batman.

Played by Game of Thrones' Alexander Siddig, Ra's al Ghul only appears for a few minutes in the season finale. He leaves once Bruce regains his composure after stabbing Alfred while still suffering the effects of being brainwashed. It is fairly obvious that Gotham would not introduce Ra's only to have him disappear and never return. It is thus safe to assume that the villain will return at some point in season four in an attempt to claim Bruce as his heir.

Before Ra's returns, though, a few other villains could show up, as the season finale teased the emergence of some other major Batman adversaries. First, after yet another falling out with Bruce, it looks like Selina Kyle is finally taking the steps toward becoming Catwoman. This means that for the foreseeable future, Kyle may be more foe to Bruce than friend.

Another villain that we will likely see in Gotham's fourth season is Cyrus Gold, aka Solomon Grundy. In the comics, Gold comes back to life as the super-powered zombie following his murder. We learn in Gotham's season finale that Butch Gilzean's legal name is Cyrus Gold. Finally, while not confirmed, we may have seen the birth of Harley Quinn in Monday's finale.

It has long been assumed, mostly due to her questionable sanity, that Barbara Kean could eventually transform into Quinn. Her "death" by electrocution in the season finale could very well be what pushes her over the edge. We won't know for sure until Gotham returns.

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