Arkham City’s Ending: “The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same…”

Batman: Arkham City’s major flaw was repetitive, uninspired boss fights which culminated in a final confrontation with the Joker where you punch him a lot. The conclusion, where a Titan-infused (Think Bane’s venom formula) Joker takes you on one-on-one, didn’t do justice to the rest of the game’s atmosphere and “strike from the darkness” gameplay. The sequel Arkham City seems to have taken heed to fans’ complaints. Not only do the boss fights vary, but writer Paul Dini gives a story so conclusive that it will keep the series from falling into the same repetitive, “nothing ever changes” cycle the comics that inspired it suffer from.

It’s going to get real spoilery in here. Go buy this game. Beat it. Explode into your Robin underoos. Come back and read this.

Joker is dead and this is the best thing for the Batman franchise, even if it’s just in the world of videogames. Mark Hamill has proven himself to be the definitive voice of The Joker, and if he wishes to retire the voice it makes sense to let his version of the character rest as well. I’d love nothing more for Hamill to voice the Clown Prince of Crime until he croaks himself (especially considering our most likely replacement right now is John DiMaggio doing the same gruff Bender voice he’s provided for years).

Just think about all the directions the story in this series can go now! Without many witnesses, Batman might be finally labeled a killer. The Dark Knight’s been striking terror just by pretending to drop people off roofs, but now that he’s the believed murderer of The Joker? And even though Joker’s blood isn’t technically on Bats’ hands, is it easier for to him to break his “one rule” once everyone assumes he already has?

What of Harley? Quinn trying to run a gang when her lover/role-model/god-made-flesh is gone is infinitely more interesting to see than Joker tempting Batman to kill him one more time. The woman went insane devoting her life to her “puddin’”, and now that’s gone. Oh and if that’s not enough for you, how about the small easter egg teasing that Harley has a little clown baby growing inside of her?

This can be found in Joker's lair inside the Steel Mill, next to Harley's old costume after you beat the game.

And it’s not like Joker went out without a bang; at the end both Batman and The Joker seem broken, exhausted, and casual. The exchange the two have, seemingly inspired by Alan Moore’s ending in The Killing Joke, comes across almost friendly. For all his morals and beliefs, Batman is seriously disturbed by seeming to need the Joker. As Bruce walks away from Arkham City, Commissioner Gordon asking him what happened in there, it’s possible to feel a sense of dread in “what the hell is wrong with Batman” along with the end of a great rogue. Oh, and he took Talia with him. That’s one more big tally when you consider Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon’s walking ability

I could be eating my words in a few years. Whoever continues the franchise- and it will happen. Game studios don’t often drop IPs that make them money- might fear the game’s failure without having The Clown Prince of Crime in their ads. Of course Ra’s al Ghul will be back, and Clayface falling into an electrified Lazarus pit is a comic writer’s dream set-up to have him come back as some sort of immortal earth god.

Yes. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge Clayface, and not just because the game’s biggest reveal was that my favorite rogue had been interacting with me all game.

Clayface, Mad Hatter, even Hugo Strange are all villains that aren’t at the top of popular culture when it comes to Batman’s rogue gallery. This is a franchise that assumes you’ve grown up with the cartoon or the comic books and won’t flinch when Solomon Grundy shows up out of the earthly blue. This is a franchise that can continue on without Joker. Superman? You’re going to need Darkseid and Lex Luthor to be major players every time. Batman has enough maniacs for the next five games, even if they make repeat appearances.

And the game seems willing to go that way. With the aforementioned pregnancy test, several villains on the loose, motherfucking Hush (let the fans boo and applaud simultaneously) with your motherfucking face in Gotham, some new secret society with Soul Reaper blades that believes Batman will fight the devil, and old man Quincy Sharp possessed by the avenging Spirit of Arkham…there are numerous threads set up in just this game. We don’t need the Joker.

What would we get out of him more? Another cruel trick? More questioning of when Batman will finally put him down rather than let him run rampant? We’ve had a wonderful experience with The Joker, and until someone has a legitimate unique story to tell with him, I’m happy to let him stay in the ground.

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About Chad Quandt

Writer for videogames, animation, the webcomic Suffrage. Master blocker in dodgeball. Barbecued with Corey Haim before he died.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Chad Quandt, Comics, Videogames and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I rather liked the way Brent Spiner portrayed Joker in Young Justice. Less cackling, but more maniacal mood shifts.

    • I’d go Spiner over DiMaggio. Personal preference (and obviously influenced by growing up with BtAS Joker) is a more manic, high pitched voice. Everyone’s take seems to be a gruff serial killer; Probably due to Ledger’s excellent version. But even he didn’t sound like a drunken stepdad. It always made sense that he’d have a very juvenile tone, either damaged from the chemicals in the accident that changed him, or as an intentional choice to be the clown he wants to be.

  2. monster poop

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