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Batman: Arkham City - What all the easter eggs and secrets tell us about the sequel

An apocalyptic force will strike Gotham. Arkham City will collapse. The criminals and lunatics held within it (some familiar, some new to the series) will spill out into Gotham City and even further afield. And something even worse and and more far-reaching than even that will happen. Batman will fight to save the innocent and to save himself, in a story which will take in multiple playable heroes, two different, brand-new cities, and heavy themes of personal responsibility and vindication. Batman will struggle to contain the spiralling doomsday scenario, while also being forced to defend his very existence as Batman. Oh, and a face from the past will turn up to mess things up royally. 

How do I know this? I don’t yet. Not for definite. But I am very, very sure indeed that I’m right about a lot of it. Since I started playing Arkham City at the beginning of October, I’ve been fine-toothing it for every detail, clue and teaser pertaining to the storyline of the next game. Rocksteady like leaving those in, you see. And there are a lot. Quite a few more than you might think, in fact. If you want the explanations for my predictions, and a whole lot more detail, naturally, you’ll find them ahead, starting with plot and themes on this page, before moving to settings, heroes and villains over pages two and three. But naturally, given how much of Arkham City's plot I have to discuss in this article, you should know that

Right then, shall we crack on?

Batman vs. the angel of death

This is the most important clue dropped by Arkham City. Azrael is in Gotham now, and his arrival means very big, very serious business. He’s the mysterious ‘Watcher in the Wings’ you’ll track across Arkham City in the side-mission of the same name, and when you finally pin him down he spills some really big revelations regarding Batman’s future.

In case you don’t know who Azrael is, he’s the near-superhumanly conditioned enforcing agent of a centuries-old secret religious society called The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas. Originally a splinter group from the Knights Templar, The Order is a fanatical sect of religious warriors, not dissimilar to a holier-than-thou version of Ra’s Al Ghul’s League of Assassins. The centuries-old Ra’s actually hung out with the original Dumas. He once appraised him as a vicious nutjob. Yeah, Ra’s Al Ghul described someone else as a vicious nutjob. Depending on its intentions, The Order's presence in Gotham could mean big trouble.

Azrael warns Batman that from the ashes of Arkham, Gotham will burn. He tells him that despite his victory in Arkham, Batman will eventually burn too. He states that Batman's saving of this current day will directly lead to the events he warns about. Ambiguous. Apocalyptic. Fairly terrifying. Batman is definitely going to be dealing with something much bigger and further reaching than a bunch of whackos and street thugs next time.

Gotham will fall to Arkham

Here’s what will happen. Arkham City is going to burst out into the main city of Gotham. Walls broken down, every major crime boss, super-villain and street-hood pouring out to engulf the city. Everything points in that direction. With Doctor Strange and TYGER gone, Arkham City is effectively done as a secure facility. During Arkham City’s extensive end-game you’ll hear repeated thug ponderings regarding the future of the place.

Above: This sort of thing

One explicitly muses on the stupidity of re-housing them in increasingly large prisons, while another assumes that AC will be shut down. Looking back to the original Arkham Asylum from a high enough vantage point in the Industrial District, it’s clear that Poison Ivy’s plants still dominate the facility, making it a fairly infeasible option for relocation. But I think something big is going to happen before the Gotham authorities get a chance to make a decision on what happens next.

Un-natural disasters

There have been earthquakes in Arkham City. This is referenced in one of the unlockable Arkham City Stories files in-game. That’s why around a third of the city is broken and submerged. Hugo Strange glossed over the disaster as a one-off localised incident, but Hugo Strange, frankly, was full of shit.

Above: You might think it's a wreck now, but it's going to get a lot worse

While I don’t think Strange was in on the earthquake, I do think that it was artificially engineered. In fact I’m sure it was in one way or another. Consider the following. The Cataclysm/No Man’s Land storyline from the comics (by which Arkham City is arguably inspired) concerns an earthquake which rocks Gotham to its foundations, culminating in the city being officially cut off and left to fend for itself. Although a natural disaster, the Ventriloquist attempted to take credit, under the assumed guise of the Quakemaster. With the Sacred Order of St. Dumas now keeping an eye on things, it’s no great jump of logic to assume that they might be responsible for razing Arkham City to the ground in punishment for the moral crimes Gotham committed against itself in creating the place.

The Order could of course though be here purely in an advisory capacity, to warn Batman. As reader linorn has pointed out in the comments, Ra's Al Ghul's mining operations in aid of re-securing his Lazarus Pit could be the cause of the quake, though that would still further establish the theme of man-made disasters. Either way though, Arkham City is a powder-keg waiting to go off, and someone is about to light it up. The earthquake is foreshadowing at the very least. And that eventual ignition is going to be partly caused by the fact that...

The Joker has escaped (and is a dad)

He has not died. He has escaped. The shock ending of Arkham City is powerfully affecting, but look back over the evidence. He’s spent the entirety of the game bluffing and double-bluffing Batman regarding his state of health. He’s The goddamn Joker. His M.O. is to play sick pranks to sadistic ends, and in order to manipulate people into doing what he wants them to. And now, at the end of Arkham City, Batman has carried him right out of the front door of the very prison he wanted to escape from. Coincidence? I don’t think so. This is all part of the plan. Life-restoring Lazarus Pits now exist in Rocksteady’s Gotham. They could be part of the plan too. If he’s even really dead at all.

The Joker may well be part of the impending cataclysm. He’ll almost certainly be part of a jail-break plan from outside the prison walls. His escape bid may even all be part of a greater conspiracy with a third party. But the really mind-blowing bit? He's going to have a kid.

Yeah. Harley is pregnant. Fact. And she'll have had the baby by the time the next game comes around. If you spot her positive pregnancy test before you complete the game, you'll hear her rather venomously singing to the baby over the end credits. Unless she's already had the kid and has been hiding it throughout the duration of Arkham City, that obviously sets the next game around nine months later. This will have serious effects on The Joker's relationship with Batman, trust me. But I'll get onto that on page three.

On the off-chance that he is actually dead though, expect to see Harley on the warpath, gunning for Batman and possibly responsible for the incoming destruction herself. She does, after all, threaten to kill "the whole damn world" in her easter egg lullaby.

Breaking (and replacing) the bat

Okay, a brief history of Bats and Az. The first Azrael Batman encountered was Jean-Paul Valley, a college student unwittingly groomed since pre-birth to become The Order’s enforcer. He eventually broke free of their control, joined Batman, and swung between hero and anti-hero for some time. Being utterly rock-hard, Azrael made a great ally, but after years of conditioning as an angel of lethal religious retribution he had an unfortunate habit of being a bit nuts and not holding back on the killing when the mood took him. That obviously caused big problems when he took over as Batman for a while, when Bruce Wayne had his back broken by Bane in the Knightfall storyline.

Above: Like so...

The current Azrael though, and the one specified by Arkham City in his unlockable character bio, is Michael Lane. An ex-cop and ex-Marine, Lane is a supremely screwed-up individual. Once part of a secret military/police project to create three new Batmen in case anything happened to the real one, he had his mind broken by the horrors of the nightmarish conditioning.regime. He was later recruited as the new Azrael by The Order of Purity, a splinter group of The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas. Madder and more volatile than Valley, he’s repeatedly carried out vengeful missions for his employers and others, including a recent Ra’s-Al-Ghul-sponsored bid to detonate all of Gotham, should the city’s heroes be judged unworthy or impure.

The secret project that gave Lane his abilities though, was a dark and sinister one run by the equally dark and sinister Dr. Simon Hurt, a psychologist, psychopath, and otherwise very bad man. Basically, this guy makes Dr. Strange look like Patch Adams, and has been hell-bent on replacing and/or utterly physically and mentally destroying Batman for a few years now. With Lane so inherently tied in to Hurt’s “Ghosts of Batman” project, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that stuff, at least thematically, bleed over into the new game.

Batman on the ropes? Certainly. An over-arcing plot to destroy him personally at the same time as he deals with a devastating, wide-reaching catastrophe? Yeah, that would fit. Hush is now, after all, masquerading as Bruce Wayne in Gotham, and will probably wreak havok upon his reputation. Rocksteady need to crank up both the wider threat and the sense of personal Bat-trauma this time around, having dabbled with the latter a few times in Arkham City, and Hush would be a good starting point. Don't forget either, that Batman was sounding seriously weary and almost defeated by his ongoing situation just before The Joker died.

And with both the previously-mentioned Azraels having been loosely involved in replacing Bats before (benevolently and otherwise), I certainly think that the probable all-out assault on Batman might well lead us on to some interesting developments in the playable roster. And I'll detail those just over the page, along with both the new settings...

115 comments

  • jesus-el-cholo-barraza - March 15, 2014 5:44 a.m.

    If you read the comics batman and gordon cremate joker so yeah he's not alive dude
  • Bat6996 - March 14, 2013 5:50 p.m.

    I enjoyed reading this, too much about azrael, not enough hush though. If you know the hush storyline, hush wants revenge on Bruce Wayne and teams up with riddler to discover that Bruce Wayne/batman are one and the same. If you listen to the riddler interview tapes, Hugo strange tells riddler how he discovered batmans true identity. Riddler becomes a major villain, along with hush and scarecrow and all of Gotham is in terror. I like the dr.hurt idea, and I'm glad you mentioned blüdhaven as a map
  • Drumguy818 - August 14, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    An idea that would explain the retcon of the pregnancy test in Harley Quinn's revenge. The original idea for Arkham 3 was probably to have Harley have a big revenge plot and have Joker's kid play a role in it, possibly evenbut they thought of a better idea (at least in their opinion, and, if I'm correct and it works out, my opinion as well). Harley Quinn's Revenge was basically a way to get rid of the old groundwork (making the first pregnancy test a mistake, having Harley's revenge fail) and pave new groundwork. I noticed while playing the DLC that there was serious friction between Batman and Robin. Would it be entirely out of the question to have Tim Drake be driven to the point of becoming a 2nd Joker? Rocksteady likes to bring in ideas from different sources when it comes to the Arkham games, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker *spoiler* Tim Drake turns out to be the new Joker. Even though in that, the Joker was essentially using mind control on Tim, I don't think it's entirely out of left field to assume that the Joker would return as a different person. If anyone were to become the second Joker, it would be Tim Drake *end spoiler*. I could be entirely wrong, but that's the vibe I got from the HQR DLC.
  • caincrow33 - August 9, 2012 4:57 p.m.

    I say no batgirl or Maxie Zeus. I'd love to beat the hell out of Jason todd as Nightwing and/or Robin (as if telling Batman that Jason todd isnt his fault.) Also, Drive Batmobile would be great. If the Scarecrow is main villain (and its pretty obvious he will be) then creepy villains like RatCatcher need to have some small amount of annoyance in the game. same with Madd Hatter. and Batman (or the gamer) not really knowing who is messing with him at all times. One playable character you left out that I would very much enjoy even in a limited amount like Catwomans in Arkham city, is James Gordon.
  • Duke1394 - August 4, 2012 6 p.m.

    Joker still being alive? There's the problem. Batman would've been sure enough to check the body w/ detective mode and see its condition as "deceased" just as he did with many dead guards. Now that that's said, it would be a cop out if he just comes back to life. That's enough to ruin a large part of the story.
  • firos - July 11, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    Harley is not pregnant, you can see multiple negative pregnancy test in Harley Quinn's Revenge dlc.
  • Sjoeki - July 11, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    True but I wouldn't be suprised if rocksteady threw those in the room just to screw with us. In the original game there was only one test and that one was positive, also it happens in real life to a lot of people (women mostly) that tests come back negative but a baby falls out after nine months anyway.
  • XD00175 - June 12, 2012 2:06 p.m.

    Nice, everything seems spot on. The Catclysm/ No man's land seems like a logical choice, and I definitely want playable Nightwing and Bludhaven. I hope we get the whole bat family as playable; Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and both batgirls. Oh, and Catwoman better show up again. I hope Batman gets to fight Azrael at least once, would be an awesome fight.
  • mike-grieco - June 4, 2012 11:55 a.m.

    I personally feel that Two-Face will be in it in a bigger role because he was built up prior to Arkham City to be a big part and he wasn't. He should be more than just a behind-the-scenes guy. I'd love to see Black Mask, Scarecrow, the Falconis, and the rest. The Falconis would be an interesting way to go. Great article, makes sense.
  • SunniDee - May 21, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    My favorite article on Gamesradar. Well-written and based on their previous track record most likely to be true
  • nicholas-sagar - May 21, 2012 6:42 p.m.

    Joker IS alive causee this game is after jason's death, but before the red hood events.i remember joker saying in the challenge maps to tim "didnt i kill you already?"so he thinks jason is dead, and he killed him!and the red hood events did have joker in them.Maybe the red hood events could be a side mission.
  • lucas-white - April 13, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    i think it would be awesome if they can somehow put the batman beyond charactor in it. say that its 40ish years in the future and the joker did have a kid that grew up and the original batman can't fight him. so they use the new batman kid to do all the work for him.
  • aaron-hunter-pressley - March 27, 2012 3:19 p.m.

    NOBODY has mentioned anything about DRACULA Possibly being a villian in the game!I mean he was in a batman movie/cartoon.I mean it would be awesome if dracula bit the dead joker and joker was a vampire clown in arkham 3!And batman messes with him and he bites scarecrow!That would freaking rock!
  • aaron-hunter-pressley - March 27, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    in the cutscene before joker stabbed bats in the arm, the cure is in i think bats left hand.And when he woke up it was in his right could it be possible that joker SECRETLY drank some of the cure just so batman would walk him out of arkham's walls?And when bats dropped the cure joker licked some off the ground.So joker could still be alive! So lets go back bats got knocked out joker drank some of the cure and batman walked the ... WAIT! the lazurace pit brings people from the dead right? so clayface could of masqueraded as "sick" Joker plus clayface can copy looks right? SO JOKER COULD OF PUT MAKEUP ON TO LOOK SICK! I mean hes already got it on so i think that i have a good point!
  • sarah-alphonse - February 12, 2012 7:44 p.m.

    black mask is found in a tank in the museum so idk how he'd be there unless he was the jerimiah arkham version
  • daniel-wignall - January 14, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    I'm not sure if it's been mentioned before but did you notice at the end when batman passes out the cure is in his left hand but when he wakes up "the cure" is in his right hand any one else think that it's not a coincidence tha clay face fell into the Lazarus pit before batman passed out and that we don't know how long batman passed out for.
  • lewis-paton - January 4, 2012 5:48 p.m.

    On the dead shot side mission I saw a lightsaber in the place were his PDA is which is a reference to Mark hamill who voices the joker and was also luke skywalker
  • lewis-paton - January 4, 2012 5:36 p.m.

    Hey you missed something about scare crow . All of the number radio stations were left by him. The last the key is scarecrow and the message is Gotham will be torn to shreds by fear. I don't take credit for this discovery
  • amanda-stephens - December 22, 2011 2:41 p.m.

    dude i agree with you, but no one figured out that there is one more thing not making sense in this game. after batman fought mr.freeze he told batman to save his wife from joker. batman never did. in fact when he saw joker he didn't even mention anything.
  • Canos - December 27, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    Except that you do. One of the sidequests involves finding the building she is stored in, clearing it of Joker's goons, and telling Freeze where she is.

Showing 1-20 of 115 comments

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