The Batman is one of the most well-recognized superheroes of all time, and the character has no shortage of appearances in a variety of entertainment mediums – including but not limited to video games. Easily the best rendition of Gotham’s Dark Knight in video game form has to be the Arkham series – and the upcoming Gotham Knights from developer WB Montreal looks to be a natural step forward for the larger universe of Batman games. Gotham Knights is ditching its focus on the beloved bat, and instead placing the limelight on the extended Bat family which includes Batgirl, Catwoman, Robin, and Red Hood. While that’s a really novel concept in enough of itself, it comes with a massive catch – that Batman is long dead.
You see, Gotham Knights is based around the premise that Batman has died, and the extended Bat family has united in an effort to carry on the legacy of Bruce Wayne as they face the villainous faction that is the Court of Owls. But that interesting plot premise gives rise to more questions than answers, and to that end – we can’t help but ask, Is Batman really dead in Gotham Knights?
According to the developers over at WB Montreal, Batman is dead in Gotham Knights for a fact. Creative director Patrick Redding confirmed this during an interview at this year’s Comic Con that the Batman is in fact “really dead” in Gotham Knights and will remain the same throughout the story. In addition to this, he also confirmed that his archnemesis The Joker wouldn’t be a part of the game as well – though it isn’t confirmed whether he is alive or dead at the moment.
But there are at least two counter-arguments to the developers’ statement – with the first being that this might be a classic case of mismarketing. We have seen multiple instances of developers purposefully misleading the audience into believing something that wouldn’t be a part of the final game in an effort to surprise fans with a shocking twist, and one of the most recent example of such marketing has to be The Last of Us Part 2. Prior to the game’s launch, Naughty Dog even showed off alternate scenes with Joel that wouldn’t be in the final game – so as to make the character’s death hit harder by having an element of surprise with it.
And the second counter-argument to the previous statement is the actual scenario surrounding Batman’s death. According to Gotham Knights’ story, Batman supposedly died during a freak accident in the Batcave that led to him destroying the entire facility along with himself. I’m no detective myself, but doesn’t that sound a bit too weird and too convenient for someone as strong and intelligent as Batman? There’s always the possibility that this might be a cover-up death for our Caped Crusader, and it wouldn’t be the first time he would have done so during his decades-long career as a vigilante hunter. Batman has faked his death multiple times in the comics – such as when he was losing a fight with Superman. By faking his own death, Batman managed to get some time to go underground and build an entire army to defeat the Man of Steel.
Hell, Batman even faked his own death at the end of Batman: Arkham Knight. After having his identity revealed at the hands of Scarecrow, Batman had to activate the Knightfall protocol wherein he destroys the Wayne Manor with himself and Alfred apparently inside to make a show for the journalists surrounding the house. As such, it’s possible that Batman has once again faked his death to accomplish a greater purpose.
And in his apparent absence, Gotham’s Rogues Gallery has once again taken to the streets for a mad grab of power. The Court of Owls is a big organization that uses its highly-trained assassins, The Talons for carrying out its dirty work – and they have taken to Gotham once again to wreak havoc upon its many denizens. Those familiar with Batman’s prior run-ins with the Court of Owls might know that high-ranking members within the villainous organization have had strong connections and relations with the Wayne family. As such, facing those whom his family helped rise to power might have taken a heavy toll on Batman’s already twisted mental state (which has happened in the comics) – so it’s also possible that he faked his death to delegate this work over to his proteges, who are likely to be unaffected by these connections and mental tortures while being really driven to carry Batman’s legacy forwards in his absence.
We also have to consider that Joker doesn’t make an appearance in Gotham Knights as well. We know for a fact that Batman and Joker are inseparable enemies who will fight until the end of time, and if Joker isn’t dead – why isn’t he out there wreaking havoc on the denizens of Gotham City now that his biggest enemy is out of the way? We could theorize that maybe the two of them are fighting somewhere out of Gotham, and duties for keeping the city safe have been delegated to the extended members of the Bat family.
Of course, there’s also the possibility of the DC Extended Universe to consider as well. It could be that Batman is helping out other superheroes from the extended universe like Wonder Woman in a larger conflict, but both of these possibilities seem rather slim because if either of that would be the case – why would Batman pretend that he is indeed dead and even go as far to hide the same from his extended Bat family? It’s highly unlikely, but one worth considering nevertheless.
It’s all fan theories and speculation that we are drawing out based on our limited knowledge of the game, and as for the bottom line – we will have to stick to what WB Montreal has said about Gotham Knights for the time being. That Batman is dead, and he will remain dead throughout the course of the story and wouldn’t make an appearance in any shape or form. But even so, it seems very possible that we will get to know more about this disappearance either throughout the story or through hidden collectibles and lore fragments peppered throughout the city.
One of the most recognizable characters in DC not being a part of this adventure feels like a downer at first, but that’s also a blessing in disguise. After all, we have been playing as the Batman for a long time in the Arkham series. Sure, there were sections that allowed players to assume the role of Catwoman or Robin or even Harley Quinn – they were few and far between. With Gotham Knights, however – players will be able to fully explore the strength and abilities of these characters as they make their way to defeating Gotham’s league of criminals and continue the legacy of Batman as a team of misfits.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.