When Rocksteady Studios announced that they were pushing Batman: Arkham Knight back another few weeks, I decided to revisit the previous games to pass the time. Lately I find myself focusing on Batman: Arkham Origins. Even though it was just a stopgap for Arkham Knight, we shouldn’t ignore what it brought us: a nice sized part of Gotham City, a great template for the Batcave, suitable replacements for the franchise’s biggest characters (i.e. Roger Craig & Troy Baker), and an unfinished five years (officials say that, but seven is better) of continuity before it connects to Batman: Arkham Asylum. I get that Rocksteady has already created the current and refined Batman we all think of, but I think WB Games should continue to work on the Dark Knight’s early years. If they ever decide to continue the Arkham series from their last game, here are some storylines they should adopt from:
#5 – THE MAN WHO LAUGHS
One of my all-time favorite early Batman stories, The Man Who Laughs is depicted as a direct sequel to Batman: Year One, which Origins borrowed heavily from. Besides being a good read, it showcased a lot of subtle hints that a game could benefit from. The most prominent are acknowledging the appearance of other superheroes, an early take on the Batmobile, Batman making himself temporarily insane, and the first appearance of the Bat-signal. This story also further establishes the connection between Batman and The Joker. Origins did a great job of setting it up from Joker’s perspective, and a game adapted from this book could establish it from Batman’s. I know a lot of fans argue that these games are too Joker-focused, but ask yourself: When done right, who doesn’t love The Joker?
#4 – THE LONG HALLOWEEN
Another classic early Batman tale, this could be another story to follow after Origins. It could continue the theme of Batman realizing he needs allies and developing the connections between them. Whether it’s Catwoman (who played a supporting role in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate) or Harvey Dent, who was elected District Attorney in Origins. It’s one of the best stories about Batman’s early career, depicting the status quo of Gotham’s criminals rapidly changing from mobsters to psychopaths and supervillains. Even without adding the killer known as Holiday, I would love to see Dent’s mental and physical transformation into Two-Face played out through the course of a game. WB Games already produced a remarkable narrative of Joker’s descent into madness. I trust they can do just as well with Batman’s (pardon the pun) #2 villain.
#3 – DARK VICTORY
The sequel to The Long Halloween, this is probably the best re-imagining of Dick Grayson’s origins and how he became the other half of the famous Dynamic Duo. I know he had some decent game time in the multiplayer section of Origins, but it’s not the same as running around Gotham as The Boy Wonder. A game that uses this story as a template would already be a hit while bumping Two-Face up to major boss status and showing some more early version of established characters in Batman lore. I know people tend to accept that Dick Grayson just became Robin because he was adopted by Batman, but we know that’s not true. Like in the story, some great scenes showing the start and development of this classic partnership would not only highlight why Grayson was chosen to be Robin, but also why the Dark Knight will always need a squire.
#2 – DARK TOMORROW (SORT OF…)
For those of you old enough to remember Batman: Dark Tomorrow, I’m sure you’re having a ‘WTF’ moment right now. Let me explain before you question my sanity. Despite its overall crappiness, it was a faithful adaption from the comics with a decent storyline, and had some of the best in-game cinematics of its time. A quick re-imagining of the game could have Batman trying to stop a gang war between Black Mask, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, and a third party (maybe Penguin, Two-Face, or the Falcone mob). Batman could take them down while fighting against a handful of villains for the first time (I recommend Poison Ivy, Man-Bat, Lock-Up, and Professor Pyg). At the end, players can witness Batman meeting R’as Al Ghul for the first time, who would claim that the events in the game was another test like the one Lady Shiva did in Origins to prove The Dark Knight’s worthiness as his successor.
#1 – NO MAN’S LAND
One of the biggest Batman stories of the new millenium, No Man’s Land was an incredible storyline that revitalized Batman for the next generation. The story goes like this: Gotham City suffers a massive earthquake soon after a previous disaster. This causes the U.S. Government to write off Gotham completely, destroying all bridges and having the National Guard block all known ground paths out of the city. Even the Justice League are forbidden by law from helping out. Gotham is swiftly carved up by gangs and various supervillains, while Jim Gordon and several well known cops choose to stay behind in an effort to protect the innocent people. With the help of the entire Bat-family, Batman helps the police take back the city literally piece by piece. Done in a style similar to Crackdown, a game based off No Man’s Land could be a major hit. The list of boss choices are enormous (there are at least 15 major villains in this story, including Lex Luthor), and WB Games could do something even Rocksteady hasn’t done yet: allow us to play as other members of the Bat-clan in the main campaign instead of a DLC. Of course characters like Azrael would have to be written out for the sake of continuity. But the trade off could be getting to play as Nightwing, Robin, or even Cassandra Cain as Batgirl.
Do you think WB Games should continue the Arkham series? If so, what stories would you like to see adapted into a video game? Leave some thoughts and comments below!