Seven Batman stories we’d like to see turned into games
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Rocksteady have spoiled us. Their Batman Arkham series (with an assist from Warner Bros. Games Montreal for Batman Arkham Origins) does Batman justice, both in gameplay and in the way it is steeped in Batman lore. If there were any question about how to do a superhero video game correctly, look no further.
Although Rocksteady is presumably done with the Arkham games, hopefully we will still see more Batman titles in the future. It probably won’t be from Rocksteady, but at least the developer showed the way. With that in mind, we have a few ideas on what the next Batman games could be, based on existing Batman properties.
Given that Batman has 75 years of history in multiple formats, there are a lot of choices for the next Batman game (assuming there is one – and given the popularity of the character and Rocksteady’s success, there probably will be). As with any list of this nature, our choices are based on personal opinion to a degree. We try to justify that, but if you think we missed one, or you have a better idea, let us know in the comments below!
One of the things that has kept Batman at the top of the superhero pecking order for so long is the character’s extended universe. Batman is so well known that others have been able to create alternative universes based around Batman, and people are more than happy to accept them.
Batman Beyond began as a cartoon, but it has continued on long after the show met a fairly ignominious end. Fans bought into the character of Terry McGinnis, the newest protégé of an elderly Bruce Wayne, as he became the new Batman of a future Gotham. Using a combination of high tech gadgets, natural ability, and the advice of the former Batman, he eventually rose to become a member of the future Justice League.
If some ballsy developer were willing to give this property a try, they would be able to feature a Batman that has all the abilities of a Batman, but with futuristic technology so advanced it would be close to magic. He could fly, see through walls, fight with super strength, and more. It would also allow the developer to get really creative with the setting, a futuristic Gotham.
The only downside to this would be the loss of most established villains, but it would also create a blank slate for anyone that wanted to mess with Batman without constraints.
This story could easily work as a killer multiplayer game set in the Batman universe, and the story could also include several other stories from author Grant Morrison, the man behind some of the best Batman stories of the last few years.
The story of Batman Incorporated begins when Bruce Wayne decides to “franchise” the Batman name around the world. He circles the globe and finds worthy heroes to bring into the fold, and these new crimefighters become part of the bat family. During Morrison’s run, he also wrote Batman and Robin, which featured the most recent Robin, Damian Wayne, the assassin-raised child of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul.
There are many ways to turn that story into a game, but one that stands out is as a multiplayer. Each player could create their own Batman-like character, with similar, but unique abilities. Players could then create their own Batman-outfit and character face (or mask), then journey to various hot spots around the world to help Batman fight off the League of Assassins, along with other familiar foes.
You might lose something in not playing Batman, but a well designed world with a developer that is willing to introduce new content could turn this into an incredible game.
The Court of Owls
When DC recently relaunched its entire line with its new 52 run, one of the first and best Batman titles from the relaunch introduced a secret society known as the Court of Owls. With their trained assassins known as the Talons, they are meant to be the opposite of Batman in almost every way. The potential in the games is vast.
The only real downside is that the Owls are a relatively new enemy, which cuts their appeal to all but the most current of Batman comics fans. With a little bit of fiddling though, this could easily be handled with plenty of cameos from friends and foes. Given that the comics spanned all of the Bat-family titles, it would even make sense to have multiple playable characters.
If a developer were really worried about the appeal of the newer enemies, it could even throw in the Hush storyline that introduced a new enemy from Bruce Wayne’s childhood. The storyline was solid, but it built heavily off of coincidences. That can work in a comic that has run for 75 years, but in a more compact property like a video game, it would require some fine tuning.
This game could really expand on the Bat-family while helping to introduce audiences to some of what the relaunched DC line is all about. It would also make for a suitably difficult game – imagine random encounters with Talons, maybe even similar in some ways to a Big Daddy encounters from BioShock. It would take more than a few combos to take them down.
Dark Knight Returns
This one almost didn’t make the list, simply because the story is fairly myopic in terms of enemies. You have the gangs of Gotham, and you have Superman. Either would make for a cool fight, but designing an entire game around it would be tough. But then we started to think about it.
Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Rises took place in a dystopian future, where the heroes of old retired, worked for the government, or died. You could expand that world and make a wild game out of it.
You would play an older Batman as he tries to recruit heroes to his cause, while avoiding or fighting others. The gangs would be the canon fodder, and Superman would be the ultimate enemy, which would require you to go on an old school video game quest to assemble the weapons you need, including a section where you steal kryptonite.
It would admittedly be a darker Batman than we’ve seen before, but it could definitely work. And that final battle against Superman would be epic.
The Long Halloween
In recent years, Batman has been seen as the ultimate fighter. He is a master of countless martial arts, and with proper planning can beat almost anyone in a fist-fight. That’s great for a video game, but he is also a detective, something that is hinted at, but often underplayed.
“The Long Halloween” is a retelling of the birth of Two-Face, but it comes at it from an interesting angle. The story takes place over the course of the year, as a killer leaves a new body for Batman each month. There are plenty of fights along the way, but it is more about the mystery than the action.
A smart developer could do a whole lot with this. Set the game over the course of a year, with side quests galore to keep things interesting, and focus the main plot on the monthly murders. It would allow Batman to grow while giving gamers an immersive story.
The story also featured most of Batman’s foes at one point or another, so all the ingredients are already there.
No Man’s Land
Of all the stories on this list, “No Man’s Land” might be the best suited to become a video game. It would also fit easily into the Arkham style.
“No Man’s Land” was a massive year-long Batman event that dominated every Batman-related titled. The setup for it, “Cataclysm” and “Aftershock,” (as well as “Contagion” and Legacy”) were lengthy as well, but “No Man’s Land” was the result of year’s of setup.
The story takes place after a series of massive and devastating earthquakes leave Gotham in ruins. The damage is so severe that most people abandon the city, and the U.S. government eventually declares the area off limits. Millions evacuate, but thousands stay, including some of the worst villains around.
Batman returns and begins to take back the city block by block with the help of his allies and the GCPD. It’s a new world though, where gold is less valuable than a battery, and the most well known Batman enemies set up kingdoms. And waiting out of sight is Lex Luthor, who is hoping to rebuild Gotham in his own image.
This story has everything for a game. All the villains are there, the majority of the shattered Gotham would be open (and closer to Fallout in style than Arkham City or Knight), and you could even fit in multiplayer, with someone else taking on the role of one of Batman’s allies while the host of the game plays as Batman. If Rocksteady decides to make another Arkham game, “Batman Arkham No Man’s Land” has a nice ring to it.
Tower of Babel
The only thing stopping this from being the ultimate Batman game are the legal hoops the developer would need to jump through to include characters that aren’t officially connected to Batman’s universe. If they could do it though, it would be tough to match.
In the comics, “Tower of Babel” was a Justice League story that centered on Batman. When members of the Justice League begin to be beaten through very specific means, Batman realizes that the Batcave was broken into and his files were compromised. Among those files were Batman’s own detailed plans on how to defeat each member of the League, in case any of them ever went rogue.
Given how often mind control and the like is a thing in the DC universe, it was a sensible precaution, but it put him on the outs with the team, many of whom saw it as a betrayal. Now, imagine a game in which you are Batman, swinging around Gotham when you receive a notification that the Flash is coming to beat the crap out of you and you have minutes to prepare. Or maybe after completing a mission Wonder Woman suddenly streaks down and destroys the Batmobile, forcing you to outsmart her to survive. Batman would then need to take on the worst villains in all of DC, not just his own, in order to redeem himself.
You could have these incredible moments where the League turns on you, while you do your best to solve the mystery of who broke into the Batcave. Getting the rights to multiple DC characters wouldn’t be easy, but it would be so, so worth it.
This is, of course, all assuming there is a next Batman game. Fingers crossed.