Gotham: The Court Of Owls


The Court of Owls have been introduced in Gotham. We explore the short comic book history of this mysterious organization and what their motivations are with respect to the television series.

In Gotham‘s Season Two penultimate episode—“A Legion of Horribles“—viewers got their first look at the Court of Owls. All this time, we thought that Hugo Strange was pulling the strings, but his bosses have finally been revealed. We explore the history of this nefarious group in the comics, and how their motivations may play into the series.

Comic Book History

Created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the Court of Owls was first mentioned in Batman #2 (October 2011) and made their first appearance in Batman #5 (January 2012). They are an old and powerful cabal that has controlled Gotham City for centuries.

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Throughout the city’s history, the Court of Owls have orchestrated murders and violent acts in order to gain power and influence. The organization is structured with leaders who appear to be human, but wear owl masks. These “superiors” command highly trained hybrid human/owl mutant assassins known as Talons.

Batman first becomes aware of the Court of Owls when he’s targeted by them. Because Bruce Wayne announced plans to reshape Gotham, the Court sentenced him to death. They send a Talon after him when he’s supposed to meet with Lincoln March, a politician.

After Batman defeated the assassin, he started an investigation into the group. He soon discovered that the Court had secret headquarters in hidden rooms in every building established by Alan Wayne—Bruce’s great-great-grandfather.

Bruce recollected that when he was a child—soon after his parents’ murders—he looked into a conspiracy that may have been the cause of their deaths. He later found no evidence and gave up on the idea.

Batman’s investigation finally led him to a sewer location where Alan’s body was originally found. However, a Talon ambushed and abducted him. The Court then trapped Batman inside of a massive labyrinth. He ended up spending over a week without food and was stressed to the point of hallucination.

When Batman was at his weakest, a Talon stabbed him from behind. After revealing themselves to him, the Court commanded the Talon to beat Batman to death. Using the memories of Alan’s brutal death as motivation, Batman unleashed a massive attack on the Talon. He then escaped using a makeshift explosive.

Angered by Batman’s resolve and escape from them, the Court commanded its army of Talons to hunt down and kill Batman and his allies—with the ultimate end-goal of taking over Gotham City.

The Court of Owls are later featured in two major storylines dedicated to the groups nefarious activities—“Night of the Owls” and “Forever Evil.”

Appearances Outside of Comics

The Court of Owls appeared in the animated film Batman vs. Robin. The story revolved around a character named Talon, voiced by Jeremy Sisto, who tried to convince Robin, a.k.a. Damien Wayne, to join the Court of Owls. However, Talon later betrayed the Court’s Grandmaster and commanded the group’s army to attack the Batcave. In the end, Talon and his soldiers are defeated, and Talon himself commited suicide.

The Court’s Role on Gotham

After seeing Hugo Strange take orders from them in “A Legion of Horribles,” we now know that they were the ones pulling the strings since the beginning. However, this still strays away from the myth set forth in the comics.

In the comics, Bruce’s initial investigations into the Court—in regards to his parents’ murders—led to a dead-end. On Gotham, there is actually credence to Bruce’s theory of a conspiracy hidden deep inside Wayne Enterprises—which we now know is rooted in the Court of Owls.

One thing that seems to be faithful to the comics is the Court’s creation and usage of Talon assassins. Though they’re not explicitly called “Talons,” the Court is employing Hugo Strange to perfect a method of resurrecting the dead and using them as killers to carry out their nefarious plans. Their latest “viable” experiment seems to be Fish Mooney. Could she be donning the “Talon” moniker in the season finale?

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a Recap of 'A Legion of Horribles'

We really don’t know if Gotham is setting the Court of Owls up as a final Season Two big-bad or as a new story arc for Season Three. Knowing the way Gotham likes instant gratification for most of its villains, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Court of Owls will only be used as a major plot device for the finale. Let’s hope that Gotham‘s producers see the Court of Owls story as a slow burn and not something that should be quickly played out and discarded.

The Season Two Finale of Gotham airs on Fox this Monday, May 23, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. EST.