Two trilogies have played huge roles in the revival of the Batman franchise: Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy and the Arkham series from Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Montreal. The Batman has benefited also from some animated series and short films, but it was these two trilogies that saved the Dark Knight from a dim reputation involving a campy Adam West, a horrid Batman & Robin that George Clooney’s good looks couldn’t even salvage, and some pretty underwhelming video games. Batman’s less than a year away from the 75th anniversary of his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in May of 1939, and the best of the Caped Crusader has been displayed in only the last eight years. Arkham Origins takes place five years before the events of Asylum, and tells the story of an early Batman dealing with a bounty placed on him by the Black Mask. While I won’t be sure if the series needs a fourth installment until after I’ve played Origins, and knowing that it might happen regardless of if they have my permission, here’s the villains we can only hope the next potential Arkham will be about.
The Royal Flush Gang
Recently I’ve been watching a lot of Batman Beyond on Netflix, and I think the Royal Flush Gang is one of the more interesting groups of villains. The group features the King, the Queen, Jack, Ace, and Ten, named after the playing cards that comprise a royal flush. Known for heists of jewels and other luxurious items, the story of Beyond’s Royal Flush Gang is actually quite sad, as what was once a family is torn apart by lies and betrayal. If an Arkham-style game were to be made featuring Terry McGinnis as Batman, then this version of the gang would be appropriate given his troubling relationship with Ten, and the dynamic between her and her family. But if we’re sticking with Wayne, then the Royal Flush Gang we see in Justice League would be interesting to feature, as their story involves our old pal The Joker, and would be made intriguing by Ace’s ability to drive people insane just by looking at them. And cameos from members of the Justice League are always a nice touch. Some smart remarks from the Flash are forever welcome in my Batman games.
Speaking of the Justice League, how often do think Batsy keeps himself up at night worrying about what would happen if Superman went rogue, or was mind-controlled? Probably a lot. So much so, in fact, that DC ran with the idea and had Batman create failsafes for each member of the League, and then had those failsafes stolen in Justice League: Doom. But what if Superman does go rogue, or someone’s controlling him and determining his actions? What if the failsafe fails? Metropolis descends into absolute madness at the sight of their beloved paladin embracing his darker side. While other members of the Justice League attempt to stop Superman from causing any further destruction, or at least try to slow him down, Batman is tasked with keeping Metropolis from tearing itself apart, while simultaneously tracking down the reason for Superman’s turn. I’m picturing the idea of villains being split on the ordeal: some will take advantage of the madness, while others may even try to aid Batman so that there’s a world left for them to commit crimes in.
Man-Bat is on this list because it’s fucking Man-Bat. This guy is literally a bat. A scientist by the name of Kirk Langstrom creates a chemical designed to give humans sonar hearing ability similar to that of a bat, and injects himself with it when he realizes he’s beginning to go deaf. I’d like to point out that bats use this because they can’t see, but I digress. The chemical turns him into a man-sized bat and he goes batshit insane, pun absolutely intended. Man-Bat would actually fit into an Arkham game rather nicely because he is one of Batman’s best villains. Not in terms of storytelling, but being able to beat Batman at his own game. Batman uses the dark to his advantage, but Manbat can navigate in absolute darkness thanks to his sonar hearing ability, creating a type of enemy Batman isn’t entirely used to. Compare this to Killer Croc or any enemy jacked up on Venom from the first Arkham game, whose attacks you can see coming from miles away.
Be warned, there are some recent film spoilers ahead, and I’m also going to make some shit up. So after the events of The Dark Knight Rises, given that Dent’s treachery is revealed by Bane, the criminals locked up in The Dark Knight are probably going to be released. With Batman assumed dead, the mob begins to slowly retake a city ravaged by war that doesn’t have its protector around. Fast forward a few years and the mob is running things in Gotham once again, and shortly after Alfred is killed in a mugging gone wrong, Bruce unretires again to return to his city and bring the criminals who consider themselves untouchable to justice. We’re introduced to some new villains, Catwoman can make a few cameo appearances, and at the end of the game, when Wayne decides to give Batman up for the third time, he meets a young man by the name of Terry McGinnis.
Honorable Mention: Red Hood
The heart-wrenching tale of Jason Todd as the Red Hood, a story arc that follows “A Death in the Family” and is told marvelously in the animated Batman: Under the Red Hood, only receives an honorable mention because there isn’t really anything else you could do with the characters apart from the story that’s already been told. And it’s a damn shame because that story was so powerful, and so well told, that an Arkham game that simply paid homage to it would be good enough for me. It would even feature characters already prevalent in the Arkham series, including the Joker, Nightwing, and Ra’s and Talia al Ghul. Also a long, drawn out scene where Red Hood beats the absolute snot out of the Joker would smash the records for best example of brutality in a video game. Hell, I’d start a petition for it to win an Oscar.