**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY LAY AHEAD. BUT LET’S FACE IT, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, CHANCES ARE YOU’VE FINISHED THAT GAME ALREADY. AND IF YOU HAVEN’T, RUN, DO NOT WALK, TO ACQUIRE AND PLAY THAT GAME.***
Batman: Arkham City was one of those rare things in life that actually lived up to the hype. It turned out to be as good, if not better, than what most of us envisioned. And the ending, by God the ending…
The death of the Joker, inside the very theater young Bruce Wayne attended with his parents on the night of their murder. The Joker stabs Batman, causing him to drop the very antidote The Joker needs to survive his Titan poisoning. It was masterfully written in a way that almost invokes The Killing Joke…
Batman: “Do you want to know something funny? Even after everything you’ve done, I would have saved you.”
Joker: “(laughs, then begins to cough) “Actually, that is…(coughs, and begins to choke)…pretty funny.”
The scene, which is masterfully performed by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, ends with The Joker passing away with a smile on his face. Batman then carries his body out of the theater in front of various onlookers, and refuses to answer Commissioner Gordon’s simple question of: “What happened?”
As if that weren’t enough of an ending, various Easter eggs indicated Harley Quinn was, in fact, pregnant with a child that is presumably The Joker’s. Throw in some cryptic comments from Azrael (“From the ashes of Arkham, fires will rage and Gotham will burn.”), and you’ve got a gaming experience that left fans wanting a hell of a lot more.
And now, more is finally here…
So…am I a total troll if I say I’m kind of disappointed?
From a visual standpoint, the trailer certainly looks fantastic, though we’re obviously not seeing gameplay footage. It’s definitely cool to see the Arkham incarnations of the Penguin, Two-Face, and a most certainly not pregnant Harley Quinn. Though the game supposedly takes place a year after City, so I suppose she could have had the baby and gotten on one of those celebrity weight-loss programs. That’s obviously the Scarecrow’s voice at the beginning, what with all the “darkest fears” talk. Also, Thomas Wayne’s line about how “I will not see you grow into the good man you will become,” suggests he knew his life was about to come to an end when he wrote his will.
This is all interesting stuff. And if this were, say, the first chapter in the Arkham saga, this would be an awesome trailer. But here’s the thing…they ignored the most important stuff that happened at the end of Arkham City! Fans have been speculating for over two years about whether the Joker is actually dead, and the trailer doesn’t even reference it! No cuts to a Joker card stained with blood, no hints at the uncertainty about where the body ended up (see Harley Quinn’s Revenge), no word about any Joker demon spawn, nothing!
By the time the trailer wrapped, my response, in essence, was that I’d just seen a bunch of cool Batman stuff. But unlike the trailers for Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, it didn’t leave me salivating for the adventure to come. I think that’s what fans have come to expect from the Arkham series. So at the end of the day, what I’ve seen so far has left me feeling pretty flat, and not nearly as interested as I could/should be.
Now, needless to say, all is not lost. We don’t even know when the game is hitting shelves yet (Though presumably it’ll be in the fall, right?). Reportedly, Kevin Conroy is indeed back as Batman. And this united group of supervillains waging war on city could indeed result in the “fires will rise and Gotham will burn” scenario that Azrael mentioned in Arkham City.
I’m certainly not naive enough to think The Joker won’t be around in Arkham Knight. For cryin’ out loud, the entire Arkham series is based on the rivalry between the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince. He’s got to be there. I’m just disappointed they didn’t give us that great hook to pull us into what is supposedly the final chapter in the Arkham series…
The final chapter, huh? So what does that really mean? At the very least, I expect that this’ll be Rocksteady’s last trip to Gotham City. As great as their Batman games have been, I’ve got no problem with that. That company has nothing left to prove in this arena. They’ve created the definitive model upon which most future Batman games will likely be based. So let’s let somebody else take the wheel and see what happens.
I just hope this isn’t the last we see of the Arkham continuity. Between the various continuity questions and confusions raised by the New 52, and Christopher Nolan putting a definitive end to his Batman film series, the Arkham universe is probably my favorite canon at this point. It’s got enough pieces of the “Diniverse” (i.e. Paul Dini stuff) to make it feel like an extension of Batman: The Animated Series. But at the same time, it’s not afraid to do it’s own thing, and set itself apart. Perhaps I’m asking too much, but I say let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes time for the next Batman game. At the very least, it’ll ensure Kevin Conroy continues to provide the voice for Batman every couple of years.
Ah yes…voice actors. Let’s discuss The Joker for a moment, shall we?
Troy Baker did a fine job in Arkham Origins. The guy was in an extremely tough position having to follow Mark Hamill. He essentially had to impersonate Hamill’s Joker, as opposed to putting his own spin on the character. But to his credit, he did about as well as anyone could have hoped. And if it’s him that voices The Joker in Arkham Knight, I’ll be fine with that.
But what if…what if…
Mark Hamill said he was done playing The Joker after Arkham City, and The Joker died in Arkham City, so it all worked out. But if The Joker ends up getting resurrected in Arkham Knight…
PLEASE, Mark? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE????? Just one more time, and I’ll never bug you about it again! I promise! No, really! It’s for real this time! I’ll stop tweeting you! I’ll stop emailing you! I’ll stop calling your house! I’ll stop ringing your doorbell at four in the morning…
Front page image/image 2 from newsarama.com. Image 1 from batman.wikia.com. Image 3 from playstationer.com.
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