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Next Batman game to scrap Arkham series for a Justice League prequel? Here's why that's ridiculous but scarily plausible

So Variety is reporting (without official confirmation) that Rocksteady's follow-up to Batman: Arkham City will not at all be what you were expecting or hoping for. It is reporting that rather than a sequel following AC's multiple, massive, game-changing dramatic revelations, it will be a prequel set in the Silver Age of comics (mid-'50s to the '70s in real-world time), detailing with Batman's first meeting with The Joker and possibly the setting up of the Justice League of America.

Not only would that mean aborting the densely-layered narrative Rocksteady has built up over the last couple of games (with some massive plotlines still to be addressed), it would also potentially mean a massive change of tone and the inclusion of Superman et al.Which as far as I'm concerned (and Henry seems to agree) would dilute the purity of the series in a most undesirable way.

Excuse me while I take a moment to sob quietly.

But don't panic yet. None of this is yet confirmed, and it could frankly be a mammoth pile of balls. There are two scenarios I see here, and although both are equally plausible (with one of them being rather horrible), that does a least give us a 50/50 chance of the Batman sequel we wanted, right?

1. The good option

Variety has just got way too excited while trying to make a larger point about Warner Bros. long-term strategy with its DC Comics properties. If you read the original report, it's not really a story about the next Batman game. It's actually about WB's cross-media plan to make the JLA and its individual characters repeat the success of Marvel's Avengers strategy. It lists the various different ways that individual key DC characters are being used now and in the near future, and it references the planned JLA movie quite heavily.

The references to the next game are vague in detail, even being as uncertain as to say that WB is "expected" to include a wider DC universe the next time around. That implies more than a little guesswork, and in the context of the article certainly reads like Variety maybe trying to shoe-horn unrelated facts together to make a wider case. There's every chance that if a Silver Age Batman/JLA game exists, it's actually a separate title from Rocksteady's Arkham series. It might not even be a Rocksteady product. This is all hearsay at the moment, and there's a great potential for crossed wires.

Above: They don't always mix well

2. The bad option

Warner Bros. new strategy, as of 2009, is absolutely to expose its DC properties far more than before. This is arguably a reaction to Marvel's string of successes since taking a more direct hand in the film adaptations of its properties. Batman aside, Marvel has been kicking DC's arse in terms of film for years, and Warner Bros. will obviously want to reverse that. There are a raft of new DC and JLA-related TV shows, cartoons and films on the way, inevitably leading to a big tentpole JLA film in the same way that most of Marvel's activities over the last few years were to the end of getting The Avengers off the ground.

Thus, it's disturbingly plausible that a suit somewhere in WB has hit upon the idea of using the next Batman game as part of that strategy. After all, with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy wrapping up soon, Batman is bound to be rebooted in film in a couple of years, probably in a lighter, more comic-bookish form after next year's Superman film, The Man of Steel. That'll be the basis of the version of Batman who appears in the Justice League film. And there's no reason at all that a suit operating under suit logic wouldn't see the next game as a perfectly-timed opportunity to start the JLA ball rolling.

Suits don't think in terms of the strength of individually-authored properties when there's a wider trans-media branding strategy to execute. They don't consider the emotional and dramatic heft of particular plot-points. They won't see that ending as a massive, exciting, brave, smart narrative masterstroke. They'll complain that The Joker is a popular villain and that they want The Joker back so that they can merchandise him, and they'll come up with an idea that justifies bringing him back. And Warner Bros. now owns Rocksteady, so if a Silver Age JLA-tinged Batman game is what a suit wants, then it can make Rocksteady make exactly that.

Personally? I think that anyone who allowed Rocksteady's Arkham games to be derailed narratively and tonally with such an immense third part on the card (check out my mammoth Arkham 3 plot prediction feature, based on all the easter eggs in Arkham City, if you want to see just how epic that story is probably going to be) would be insane. And narrative aside, the games in their current form have picked up a huge amount of fan loyalty and hype momentum. Cutting them short in favour of a radical new direction would be a disastrous move.

But it's not like such a move would be the craziest or most misguided thing a marketing man has ever done in the name of a more mainstream branding strategy. And considering that Batman: Arkham City was announced just four months after Arkham Asylum was released, the relatively extended period of silence since Arkham City (with a plotline for part 3 presumably already worked out) might imply that some background machinations have slowed things down.

But we will see. Cross all the things you can.

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11 comments

  • brazmanoqk - July 11, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    Why have you assumed they're going to give up on the arkham series? Why are you whining about the lack of realism and the ridiculousness of mixing superman and the flash in batman's universe when arkham has clayface, solomon grundy, the lazarus pit, both venom and titan, killer croc and many more ridiculous things, it's no more realistic than this idea. Rocksteady are adults and can be trusted, they wouldn't do this if they didn't have a good idea. Oh and you're a journalist, start acting like one and leave your fanboy bias at the door and try and have an open, impartial mind.
  • joey-skene - July 12, 2012 12:59 a.m.

    First of all, they have a right to give an opinion. And secondly, their opinion is very well backed up, not just "fanboy bias". While the story does have character's like Grundy, and croc, all parts are from batman mythology. The second you add in superman flying about, joker is next to useless except as possibly a member of the legion of doom, (which would be possibly the dumbest thing ever) and since it ws highly hinted toward joker being resurrected, they can't just take that back, and say that harley decided she didn't want him back. And there is a severe difference from clayman, and croc, and even Rhas al Guhl being in the story than superman, flash, and wonder woman for three main reasons. 1.) all three of them are ADVERSARIES. It's okay to have enemies that should be able to wipe the floor with you, but if you add allies that make you obsolete (*cough* Superman *cough*). Then you have a problem. Why grapple around when you can just fly? And why use detective mode when you have x-ray vision and superhearing? 2.) grundy, rhas, and croc are just mutated with enhanced powers. Superman, wonderwoman and flash are all basically indestructible. Except flash, but considering that basically no one can touch flash, he's pretty much invincible too. 3.) Croc is a human. Grundy is a... Well... Technically a legend, but the gruny we know is a zombie that was a human. And obviously clayman was once an actor. Superman is KRYPTONIAN, Wonder Woman is an AMAZONESS, and while flash is human, he has an ability that makes him much more superhuman than any villain in the Arkham series. If I were rocksteady, I'd put out one or two more games, so they can finish with all of their spoilers, get the bat mobile cruisin' again, (and then maybe flying too) and finally kill off batman or have some dlc that links into JLA, and then start superman (a good superman game, please), and have that link into the JLA as well. Then just put batman at watchtower with robin and, voila! Two birds, one stone! But I will be livid, personally, if they destroy the batman story for some cockamamie idea like the JLA establishment. Especially if it's just out of fear from the avengers. You realize that marvel didn't release an avenger's game? That's because they're smart. Let's hope DC is smarter.
  • brazmanoqk - July 13, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    They do have a right to their opinion but this is a news site and should therefore leave it at that, they should inform us of what's going on so we can make our own opinion. You made my point about whether the other members of the justice league would fit in the arkham asylum universe by describing grundy as a legend and as for Batman being redundant next to the other super heroes, if he is why do they even bother having him in the league?
  • joey-skene - August 17, 2012 12:46 a.m.

    They use him as intelligence mostly. And an observer. Same with Martian Man hunter for a brief period while he is regaining control of his powers. But the few times he is seen fighting with the justice league he has much more advanced gadgets than what he has in the Arkham Series. The bat mobile, batwing, and even the basic batarang are all more advanced than what we've seen in this series. And as for Grundy, he's a legend technically, because he was sort of a rumor. A legend only because no one knew if he actually existed or not. I mean the simple fact that he has to be recharged puts such a limit on him, that it makes him a competition for batman. Not superman. But you can't do that with the main villains for JLA like darkseid, blizzaro, doomsday, zod. It just can't be done. It'll end up being based too much on Superman. Not to mention, they need batman's resources. They're nearly limitless. Oliver queen and him make some serious bank for JLA.
  • marek-kruszlinski - July 29, 2012 1:18 a.m.

    clayface, solomon grundy, the lazarus pit, both venom and titan, killer croc were all part of batman adding superman and wonderwoman and the jla is just like saying theyve given up on batman but since we still want him we will give everyone them so no they are not ridiculous the are batman adding more superheroes is ridiculous
  • PBC13 - July 11, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    I trust Rocksteady to do it right whatever. They have done Batman justice so far. But it is probably best to just wait and see how this goes. It may not be as it seems. It could be that this report is half right or simply not right at all.
  • Jesse1066 - July 11, 2012 1:38 p.m.

    I'm optimistic. Batman has been just a bit too serious lately.
  • TheInvincibleDragon - July 11, 2012 3:15 p.m.

    If anyone can pull this off, it's Rocksteady. They have done Batman justice, better than anyone else could have. If they decide to do that, it would be interesting to see their take on Superman (although I hate the guy). Maybe they'll make a Superman game that is actually playable. (I hate Superman, but come on, I'd play his game.) AND, if they do try a buildup to the JLA, that would be right up my alley because I'm a DC buff.
  • IceBlueKirby - July 11, 2012 5:07 p.m.

    They could just skip that entirely and let Snowblind do another Justice League Heroes type game. Even if it is going to be a Rocksteady game, I think they can pull it off.
  • Travia220 - July 11, 2012 6:48 p.m.

    There should not be a sequel to Arkham City. Leave it where it's at. It ended perfectly.. This is the case of a game you don't make a sequel for and ruin it. It's best to move on and make a prequel, new super hero game or something else. People seem to always want sequels to games that don't need them.
  • Bishop48 - July 23, 2012 9:37 a.m.

    That would never happen because In Arkham City you had the Hush and Azrael side missions that Batman said he would investigate at the Batcave

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