arkham origins has some of the best batman writing where it counts: at the core of the relationship dynamics between the principal characters. not only does the writing tend to crystallize and illuminate what makes each relationship work, but it also gives each character an arc of self-discovery that feels powerful and earned. so alfred pennyworth is extraordinarily reticent to endorse bruce’s obsessions, but by the end of the game, he understands why “batman” must exist, and that change occurs in a way that challenges both alfred and bruce and forces them to take a long hard look at themselves.
the joker’s introduction is also extraordinarily complicated, and it’s not a story we’ve seen all that often. we know his general origin from the killing joke and the man who laughs, but arkham origins takes those basic plot points and digs deeper into what draws the joker to batman. beyond that, though, it’s doing necessary work in setting up the longer arc of the arkham universe, creating retroactive parallels that are going to pop up in the rocksteady games, especially arkham city. we all know that batman doesn’t kill, and we all know a little part of him will never recover from the joker’s death, but origins twists the irony even more–batman never killing anyone is the thing that intrigues the joker, and once his obsession starts, he doesn’t want to stop until he’s forced batman to kill. that’s the climax of origins, but it’s also dimly echoed in arkham city’s finale. the joker thinks batman is willing to let him die, so he’s shocked and thrilled all over again when batman says he would have saved him. all these years, and that hasn’t changed.
this whole arc is best illustrated by the differences between the end credit songs. this is one of the more direct parallels between the two games, but the choice of song makes a huge difference. “cold, cold heart” in origins is angry, bitter: you won’t admit that we’re the same, and it’s tearing me apart. this song, in this context, is all about the joker wanting to change batman, break him down, make him more like the joker. why can’t i free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart? this will be his MISSION, and as an audience, we know he’s going to come dangerously close to succeeding by pushing batman to the brink.
but the lyrics to “only you” are completely different. the joker is pensive, sentimental, and possibly about to die. where “cold, cold heart” presented a clear challenge, “only you” is an offering with no strings attached. the joker in origins wanted nothing more than to bring batman down to his level, to fundamentally alter who he was, or to get him to admit that they’re similar. but now he’s just gushing about batman as he is. in fact, the joker admits he was the first one to give: only you can make this change in me. the joker changed, batman didn’t. and the joker loves him for it.
Invest in Gotham. Treat its people like family, watch over them, and use this money to safeguard them from forces beyond their control. My deepest regret is I will not see you grow into the good man I know you will become. And finally, my son… I ask that you never abandon this city to fate. We have lived through dark days, and no doubt there are more to come. But it is the good and great men who stand up for Gotham when others turn and run… In death, I will love you forever.
Batman: Arkham Knight Announced for Next-Gen and PC, My Body is Ready
Rocksteady is ready to make us love Batman all over again, next-gen style. Arkham Knight is the explosive finale to the Arkham series. You’ll see old friends like the Scarecrow, Penguin, Two-Face & Harley Quinn.
Batman: Arkham Knight is set in Gotham City and introduces a uniquely designed version of the Batmobile, which will be drivable in the game!
As preorder bonus, for the first time you will also be able to play as Harley Quinn in exclusive challenge maps. More details as they come folks.