Josh Olson Has A Batman Story for You

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Batman: Gotham Knight."

On sale now is "Batman: Gotham Knight," the latest release from Warner Bros.' DC Universe line of direct-to-DVD features based on the iconic DC Comics superheroes. Split into six chapters created by six different teams of writers, directors, animators, and composers, "Gotham Knight" bridges the gap between 2005's live-action "Batman Begins" and the forthcoming sequel, "The Dark Knight."

Contributing the script for one segment is Josh Olson, who knows all about violence. After all, the writer of the hugely acclaimed "A History of Violence" has Batman chopping the head off a criminal in the first ten minutes of his tale, "Have I Got A Story for You." Trust us, you just have to see it.

CBR News spoke with Olson about the new film.


CBR: What was your favorite part about this anime trip into Batman's world?

Seth Olson: Probably the enormous paycheck was my favorite part.

No, I love Batman, I'm a comic book fan. I've been going to conventions for years, I've been reading comics since I don't know how old. I know I drove my agent nuts. ["Gotham Knight"] came my way a while ago. Sure enough, I got nominated for an Oscar -- that tends to raise your profile. I had just turned down an enormous TV project, then this phone call comes in and I jump all over it. My agent is going, "Are you out of your mind?!?" I told him, "I have to!" I love Batman. I love the concept. I love brining in Japanese animators to give us these different views of Batman. It was so immensely satisfying. It's idiotic how often I'll watch it, and how often I'll get people to watch it with me.

When I saw ["Gotham Knight"], I was just giddy. This is the reason you write this stuff -- you have this secret hope that someone will get to see it and have the same reaction. I was knocked out.

Your segment -- "'Have I Got a Story for You -- is the first of the six tales told in "Gtoham Knight." Is it good to bat lead-off on the project?

Yeah, I think so. Mine loosely connects to the others, but it's more of a stand-alone. I tied-in to the overall concept on "this is who the Batman is." I take some kids and how they saw Batman and who the perceive him to be. Because I played so fast and loose with Batman and what he looks like, it is kind of visually arresting. There are many different perspectives just in this one 12-minute cartoon.

Where did your story angle -- the different perspectives on Batman -- come from?

If I was the second guy to have done this, I'd be a thief. But I've seen about three of these stories now, and I'm the fourth, so it's a genre now. There was an issue of "Detective Comics" that I think Denny O'Neil wrote in the late '60s or early '70s. It's three kids around the campfire, Bruce Wayne is the scout master. I haven't been able to find that story since I read it, I'd like to give it the proper credit. It's also been done in "Batman: The Animated Series." It's been done several times now -- mine is a different version of the idea of three kids talking about what Batman looks like.

If you're going to steal stuff, you've got to make something about it original. I had each of the kids see Batman on a different part of the same adventure, fighting the same villain. One kid sees the beginning, one kid sees the middle, one kid sees the end. So I had them tell the stories backwards. It's sort of a nod to Christopher Nolan and "Memento."

And this is loaded with inside jokes. I thought I might never get a chance to write a cartoon again in my life. There's a moment where a girl is describing a fight, and she goes, "bif, pow, wap, flurb!" I remember "flurb" from the old Adam West Batman show. I use the word "flurb" because it was the most ridiculous sound effect they used on that show.

This is your first time writing for a cartoon -- how did you have to adapt your writing style?

I took it as a license to go nuts. There were three different places where I just said, "animators: go nuts here!" I tried to write something that was loud and bright and colorful. I tried to make every scene as visually different as possible. These kids are skateboarders, I didn't describe the park, just the setting.

What are you working on now?

I'm just finishing up this weird departure -- it's a sequel to "The Wizard of Oz" for Warner Bros. I loved the books as a kid. They've attempted this before, in the 1980s. It's faithful to the books and faithful to the films. I'm handing that in this week.

I'm also adapting a short story by Dennis Lehane, who did "Mystic River," called "Shutter Island." [Martin] Scorsese is directing, with Leonardo DiCaprio.

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