Our Own Private Gotham, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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10 Responses

  1. Russ Rogers says:

    There is no doubt that this will be seen as the Summer of Comics Movies. Hollywood seems ready to start cranking out Super-Hero flicks the way it used to roll out movie musicals. Heck, even musicals are making a come back. Personally, I've seen Iron Man, Hellboy 2 and Dark Knight this year. I enjoyed Iron Man the most. It was the most optimistic and fun.Comics will not only be affecting the movies, but I think we will start seeing more and more Publishers, Writers and Artists start treating comics like glorified screenplay proposals. EZ Street is ahead of the game recognizing this trend. Platinum Studios seems to be in the business of trying to acquire the rights to as much intellectual property as it can, as quickly as possible while digging a huge hole of debt. I think the hope is, one of it's properties (like Cowboys and Aliens) will be licensed and make GONZO bucks at the box office. That way Platinum can prove that a comics company can become profitable without ever making profitable comics!

    • Alan Coil says:

      Russ,Most comics aren't that profitable. Licensing is where all the money is.While I agree that Iron Man is more fun that Dark Knight, Dark Knight is a superior movie. Iron Man is cool in a what-if-I had-billions-and-was-brilliant fantasy. Dark Knight makes us wonder exactly how close we are to being the villain, and what it would take to push us there.

  2. Alan Kistler says:

    I think this makes a lot of sense. In times like this, Batman is an especially attractive hero, I think, because he is a man who is incredibly skilled at fear and violence but knows when and where to draw the line, a quality we keep criticizing our government and ourselves for lacking. Indeed, just as the entire first film focused around the theme of how do you face/deal with your fear, this film had every central character faced with the question "how far will you go?" Gordon, Dent, Batman, even Lucius, Alfred and Rachel, all had to answer this question for themselves and I think that basic question is at the heart of so many of us today.How far do we go to solve our problems? And will we make a sacrifice that will make our lives uncomfortable (or considerably more dangerous, in Bruce's case) in order to serve the bigger picture, the greater good?I think this film also speaks to a cynicism that has been re-emerging in the U.S. (or perhaps it never left) that the true heroes are unsung. We're more willing to believe stories about a hero who saves the world but is hated or misunderstood by humanity than stories about a hero is who bright and shining, saves the day AND gets praised for it. We wish Superman were in the world, but deep down we relate more to Batman.Just my two cents. Excellent post.

  3. Evie says:

    Excellent post–there's a lot about this film that is definitely a reflection of this moment, and watched in a different decade with different economic and political circumstances would have a very different effect.I think one thing that we need to be careful of, though, is seeing the Dark Knight world as a reflection of our own, with essentially the same rules–it's not. Our world has a lot more ambiguity, a lot more unknowns, and right vs. wrong has a lot more wrenches thrown into it than even this movie did. My husband said it better than I am saying it:What I hadn't realized the film had done to me, was that it had taken me out of my world, where I read scores of foreign newspapers and accounts from watchdog groups to try to develop a sense of what's right and what's wrong. This film then dropped me squarely into another world, which tangentially resembled mine enough that I could get my moral bearings somewhat – but had taken out all the light grey area and replaced it with dark grey. Not a huge difference, but big enough.For the two and a half hours I was in that theatre, I would have given up any of my rights to catch the Joker. I would have gladly submitted myself to that cell phone 3d-mappy thing. I'd allow myself to be wiretapped. I'd probably stand up and sing God Bless Gotham, even though I'm a Buddhist and I don't believe in "God" proper. I'd let them put religion back into public schools, if only to help the kids make some sense out of this awful, awful world. For the two and a half hours I spent watching this movie, I was a victim of desperation.(http://awesomedbycomics.blogspot.com/2008/07/dark…)

  4. Russ Rogers says:

    Warning: Here's a Dark Knight Spoiler, whether you've seen the movie or not. There's a plot point I didn't get in The Dark Knight and it's at the CLIMAX of the movie. The Joker has threatened to blow up bridges and tunnels; he claims to have planted numerous bombs. We see cops searching the bridges and tunnels. The people are in a panic, terrified of hidden bombs. SO some of the good people of Gotham decide to evacuate the city and some of their most dangerous criminals by using two ferries. We are AVOIDING the explosives that the Joker has claimed to have placed on bridges and tunnels by using the Ferry System, yes? And yet, NOBODY thinks of checking either Ferry for explosives until the boats are full of passengers and in the middle of the harbor! Nobody. Not the World's Greatest Detective, Batman. Not Commissioner Gordon. Not any of the Cops on either Ferry before departure. And we aren't talking about little packages of easily concealed plastic explosive or gelignite; these are GIANT CARTOONY BARRELS of explosives with gift packages on top. The city is in a PANIC about explosives and nobody thinks to glance around in either ferry for them! It just makes NO sense, unless Scarecrow has filled the water main with the Elixir of Stupid.How does the Joker find any loyal followers to plant those explosives when he's willing to cavalierly kill his own men left and right, surgically implant explosives inside them and burn stacks of money? What is the incentive to being a follower of the Joker? Heath Ledger gives a creepy performance. He's good. He waggles his tongue like Louden Wainwright III singing "Dead Skunk". But I don't think it's Oscar worthy. Partly because the script has Ledger hitting the same dramatic notes again and again and again. "Do you want to know how I got these scars?" Again? No, but I'm sure you'll tell us, Joker.I liked The Dark Knight. A lot of stuff "blow'd up good, blow'd up real good!" It was fun as long as you are willing to turn off your brain a bit. But that doesn't make for the best superhero movie ever. It didn't even make for the best superhero movie of this Summer.

    • APL (Allan Lappin) says:

      Similarly, when we're informed that explosives have been planted at one or more hospitals, why weren't police dispatched to protect/move Harvey? Okay, perhaps he wasn't the top priority when protecting the city, but to be the lowest priority?

    • Neil Ottenstein says:

      I thought about both points about not checking the Ferry System or the Joker finding followers to create all the chaos. The plot hole is even worse than not checking the either Ferry, just how did the explosives get put on unnoticed in the first place? And how many henchmen were actually left at this point to do so? I also might have missed something in another scene – After the Joker set the mob's money on fire, were all the mob members there restrained? What stopped them then or later from killing the Joker?

  5. Cory says:

    Russ hit something here that I think actually goes deeper than a missed plot point. This movie did capture the vibe of 'how far would you go' and the ferry scene was the perfect example of humanity. You have a ferry full of criminals vs. a ferry full of honest citizens. Who will pull the trigger first and it goes back and forth back and forth until the gung-ho we gotta get them before they get us citizen can't pull the trigger and the criminal who demands the trigger tosses it out the window. The moral of that as I walked away from my local cinema is that maybe we shouldn't be so cynical and judgemental. Preconceived notions were thrown out the window with the trigger. Sometimes the honest citizen can be the villian and the hardened criminal can be the hero.But in terms of what Batman went through in the film was literally, to take a quote from John a 'We take what is given' situation. By the end of the film because of the Joker's machinations Batman is left with one choice for an honorable man sacrifice your reputation for the betterment of your community. What I took away from that is that you sacrifice something in order to achieve your goals. For Batman it was his reputation so Gotham still had hope, and each of us has sacrificed something in our lives to make our world around us a little better. Why it appeals to us and resonates is that it puts the difficult choices we have to make on a daily basis like 'do I need gas or groceries?' and dresses them up as superheroes with cool gadgets and a sweet ride.

  6. APL (Allan Lappin) says:

    I understand the accolades for Mr. Ledger's acting, but why haven't the praises been just as great (if not greter) for the writer of the script? It was the content, not the delivery, of the lines that made the movie as chilling as it was.