06 July 2009

Metropolis v. Gotham: The CrimLaw Community

So, I'm flipping thru late night TV and I come across an animated Batman film and the last day or so the cable channels have been running that horrendous "Superman Returns" film. Anyway, it got me to thinking. Where would various members of the crimlaw community prefer to be, Metropolis or Gotham?


In Metropolis if you point a pistol and say "This is a . . ." a red and blue blur picks you up and deposits you at the nearest police station. You are entirely unharmed and locked up with the other 43 men whom Superman caught committing crimes during a 3.6 second patrol of the entire city. Violent crime is low in Metropolis because Superman is everywhere, all the time. When you go to court Superman comes as the star witness against you and you will be convicted. However, Metropolis has a merciful judicial system and the odds are that you will get probation with some sort of rehab program.

In Gotham the odds are that on any given day you will get away with your crime. After all, Batman can only be at one place at a time. Of course, if it is your day a maniac dressed in a Bat costume will descend upon you and take his time explaining in painstaking detail why you shouldn't be committing crimes in his city. Then he'll leave you tied to a light pole on a corner until the police show up to render medical aid and eventually arrest you. When you are brought into court in your wheelchair, you know Batman is not going to be there to testify against you. You probably won't get convicted. However, if you are Gotham's judicial system isn't going to waste any time on that namby-pamby rehab stuff; you'll consider it a good sentence as long as they don't send you to Arkham.


In Metropolis, life on most days is very good for the officers. You stroll down the street, flirt with the girl at the LexCorp coffee shop, write the odd traffic ticket, and every so often a red-blue blur drops off three guys who tried to rob a bank and you take them into the station. Generally, life is good. Then come the days when Darkseid or Mongul or Doomsday show up to try and take Superman out and you're getting disintegrated because you were the first to arrive on scene or you spend the day dodging trucks, cars, and buildings they are throwing at each other as you try to get civilians away from indestructible beings fighting each other in the middle of a major city.

In Gotham, it's a good day when no one you know gets killed. There's a nutcase vigilante bouncing around the city dressed like a bat and the Commissioner seems intent on coddling him instead of putting him away. Meanwhile, one homicidal maniac after another keeps coming to town - the Joker, Two Face, Scarecrow etc. - killing any officer who gets in his way (not to mention citizens) until the vigilante accepts the maniac's challenge and they fight. The "bad guy" gets captured, but that just means he'll escape from Arkham Asylum and be back out on the street next month doing it all again.

Defense Attorney:

In Metropolis you have to cross examine Superman. It's your job to sell the jury on Superman as an out of control vigilante who is lying on the stand about your client. You know, the guy with the nickname of "the Big Blue Boy Scout" who has probably either saved the life of every person on your jury or helped their grandmother get her cat out of a tree.

In Gotham you don't have to worry about Batman showing up at a trial. As long as you stay honest you'll probably never see the Batman. And the fact that you keep wheeling in clients with broken legs and arms, who had to get out of the hospital before they went to jail makes a wonderful case for police sanctioned, vigilante brutality. You'll win a lot of cases. Then comes the day when the judge assigns you to be the Joker's new court appointed attorney (after he killed the last six) . . .


In Metropolis convictions are guaranteed. What jury or judge is going to rule against Superman? The man who stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way? Of course, also following Superman's lead, the courts won't believe anyone beyond salvaging and while it'll be easy to have a 99.998% conviction rate, the odds are most of the time the defendant will get an extremely light sentence and be given the opportunity to rehab and become a productive member of society (despite his 12 prior convictions).

In Gotham, as a prosecutor you live with a police escort and 24 hour guard. The Police Commissioner is constantly on you because you can't convict most of the bad guys his pet vigilante mangles and leaves for the police. There's either no witnesses or, in the case of the splashy villains, plenty of witnesses but a defendant who is clearly NGRI and who ends up getting sent back to Arkham, which doesn't seem able to keep a church mouse from escaping. And even living with 24 hour police protection the bad guys can get to you - remember Harvey Dent.


I leave the decision to you. Where would you rather be?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Overall, I'd rather be in Gotham... where at least the hero/vigilante (as well as the criminal) is human.

When extra-dimensional baddies such as Darkseid open a Boom-Tube in downtown metropolis, they kill and cause more damage than the joker can in a year. Not to mention the ensuing battle between Supes and all the minions of Apokolips. You oughta see the rates for insurance coverage in Metropolis.

In Gotham, you only gotta worry about being mugged or robbed or assaulted - not whether a giant space ship or "super" monster is going to level the city.