And the villains will be…
The only criminal to escape from Arkham City (you can find his escape route in the south-east corner of the Industrial district), Roman Sionis is now back within its walls, whereabouts unknown. The completely insane, sadistic crime lord and occasional cult leader is too strong a character not to use, and the fact that he has already escaped Arkham City once pretty much cues him up for a major appearance in Arkham 3, guaranteed.
The serial killer has now changed his own face in order to masquerade as Bruce Wayne in Gotham. His voice has even started to sound like Batman's, implying that they're both played by voice actor Kevin Conroy. He's going to play hell with Bruce Wayne's public reputation. And if he works out that Bruce is Batman in the process and takes the impersonation a step further... Ye gods, that's going to get unpleasant.
The Sacred Order of St. Dumas / The Order of Purity
These guys are going to be at the centre of an over-arcing plot. And that’s going to create major friction with…
Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins
Ra’s isn’t dead. Well he is, but he isn’t going to stay that way. Batman's dialogue with Oracle near the end of Arkham City virtually confirms this inevitability, as does the later disappearance of Ra's' body and the lockdown of his inner sanctum. Basically, Ra’s and the League are too big a storyline and resonate too well with the apocalyptic themes I’m expecting in the third game to be swept away so quickly. With the appearance of The Order, Ra’s has both a potential ally and a potential foe. Depending on which way he sides, he could be a major part of the next game’s plot, possibly even an ally for Batman.
And Talia's not dead either. Her body disappears too. And she'll probably be out for vengeance against The Joker. Also, with the Lazarus Pits now established in Rocksteady's Batman continuity, and a whole network of them existing in the comics, expect to be tracking down and destroying a bunch of them as a side-mission.
The Ventriloquist and Scarface
Very much tied in to the original comic book Cataclysm storyline (he was responsible for the earthquake) and definitely teased in the last two games to the point where he must appear in the next one. His mobster-styled puppet Scarface (who either embodies his violent split personality or possesses him with one, depending on whether you interpret any supernatural goings on or not) was seen several times in Arkham Asylum, and it’s explained in the Arkham City Stories that The Joker now has several replicas. The Ventriloquist’s whereabouts are unknown following his release from Arkham previous to the first game, but with Scarface now (temporarily at least ) without a master, he must make an appearance in the next game. Hell, if there are enough Scarface replicas, finding and destroying them might even be a side-mission or Riddler challenge.
If there’s gangland profiteering to be had, the Penguin will be involved. He manipulated the suffering inflicted by Cataclysm for his own gain, and he’s more than likely to turn up in Bludhaven attempting to do similar.
These guys are already in Bludhaven. We’ve seen too much of them in Arkham City for them not to be a big part of the game. They’ll be in it.
A crime lord and casino owner under the delusion that he is actually the actual Zeus, Maxie has never been one of the top-tier villains, but he’s a very interesting one. Doubly-so, given that the reference to electro-shock treatment in his unlockable in-game bio seems to directly reference the disturbing-as-all-hell interpretation of him as an electrified, emaciated pseudo-messiah in Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum graphic novel. His casino still (just about) stands in Arkham City, but he is missing. As his Arkham City bio states though, he can’t be far away. Given that he was one of the more notable escapees from Arkham when Bane tore down the walls during the Knightfall storyline, I’ll put money on him turning up in Gotham or Bludhaven in the next game.
The Scarecrow’s mask is visible on top of the wrecked overpass leading into The Joker’s compound in the Industrial District, but while providing a cool little easter egg (not to mention a solved Riddler puzzle), it also points the way to an even bigger hint. The barge a little way over into Gotham bay from the broken road is where The Scarecrow is hiding out. Head over there, unlock the deck-hatch with the cryptographic sequencer, and you’ll find grimy interior awash with insects, containing a solitary goon held hostage.
If observed, he’ll freak out and then die. Oh, and did I mention that the password to the hard-to-hack vessel is “City in Terror”? The Scarecrow is up to something big. Rocksteady have already referenced the Tim Burton Batman films with Arkham City’s snow and the broken bell at the bottom of the church clock tower, so there’s no reason a hint of Batman Begins’ plot shouldn’t turn up in the next game.
When he comes back though, things are going to get really interesting. Rocksteady have done a beautiful job in Arkham City of establishing the true, co-dependent, almost sympathetic nature of his relationship with Batman. We know that Bats would have saved him at the end of Arkham City, given the chance. We know that The Joker has probably manipulated the situation for his own ends (namely surviving and getting out of Arkham) regardless of that intended favour. The fallout will be huge. And it will get really messy when you consider the fact that The Joker will be a dad by the time Arkham 3 comes around.
Bats will have more reason than ever to hate him, but he'll also have more reason than ever to protect him. If there's one man who will do anything to protect the bond between parent and child, it's Batman. Similarly, it'll be interesting to see what action The Joker takes if his Batman comes under threat from another villain. It was, after all, The Joker who took down Dr. Hurt. That quiet protectivity goes both ways.
If the Joker is dead though (or hiding the fact that he isn't from everyone), expect to see Harley in a major villain role, possibly even the biggest threat to public safety due to the rage incited by the loss (percieved or otherwise) of her baby's father. Would The Joker really be so cruel as to let her think he was dead? If it fitted his larger plan, of course he would. He's The Joker.
I guessed he’d be in Arkham City, but I still reckon he’s going to make an appearance. In fact, given his absence from the current game I’m even more sure that he’ll turn up in a big way. Long story short: Jason was the second Robin, (temporarily) killed by The Joker after Batman failed to save him. He eventually returned, insane and vengeful, and determined to destroy them both. Given the timeframe of Bat-history sketched out by Rocksteady here, his non-appearance sticks out like a batarang in a tight jeans pocket, so I can’t help but suspect that Rocksteady are saving him for something big.
He may even be responsible for all of the impending trauma soon coming for Batman. And hell, if he is, it will certainly give Batman and The Joker a seriously interesting shared enemy through which to explore their relationship. Not to mention one through which Batman can explore the guilt and sense of responsibility that’s just started to be hinted at in Arkham City.
After he died he was swept into a Lazarus Pit. Simple as that. He's back.
Could we definitely have an unlockable '60s Batman filter when we complete the game next time around, please? You know it would be brilliant.
So, that's my take on Arkham 3. What do you reckon? Anything I've missed? Any interpretations of your own you'd like to spin things with? Let me know.