Arkham City Part 9: Surprise!

By Shamus
on Mar 23, 2017
Filed under:
Batman

Batman punches his way into Joker’s lair. When he gets there, he finds Harley Quinn crying over what appears to be Joker’s dead body. Batman ponders the scene with a dumb look on his face until the REAL Joker ambushes him from behind and doses him with knockout gas.

Times Batman has been knocked unconscious so far this evening: 3

Fumbling Around in the Dark Knight

I gave Arkham Origins crap for having a lot of out-of-scale assets, but it looks like the problem has always been part of the series. That door is WAY out of proportion in relation to Batman. Same goes for the floorboards. Taken together, Batman looks to be about five feet tall. Maybe four and a half without the pointy ears.

I gave Arkham Origins crap for having a lot of out-of-scale assets, but it looks like the problem has always been part of the series. That door is WAY out of proportion in relation to Batman. Same goes for the floorboards. Taken together, Batman looks to be about five feet tall. Maybe four and a half without the pointy ears.

As the Arkham series went on the developers have increased Batman’s combat prowess to make the gameplay more empowering, while at the same time they’ve made him less competent in cutscenes. His powers of observation and preparedness have languished while his face-punching powers have grown. In particular, this scene is one of those moments that really highlights the difference between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City in terms of writing.

Batman walks into this ambush like a dumbass. To be clear, I’m 100% fine with Joker getting the drop on the Caped Crusader. He’s a dangerously clever foe and totally capable of catching Batman off guard. The problem isn’t the ambush, it’s how Batman behaves before the ambush. We need to be selling the audience that this happened because Joker is smart and knows his adversary, not because Batman is dumb and inert.

Again, there are lots of moments like this in Arkham Asylum. The entire opening scene shows how Batman is completely prepared for an escape attempt. At one point the lights go out for a moment, and when they blink back on we find Batman has the Joker in a choke hold. He knows Joker is planning an escape, and he’s working to thwart it. That sort of anticipation and preparedness is his superpower, so showing him being inert in a cutscene is like having a cutscene where Superman forgets he can fly.

The Joker is a patient adversary.

The Joker is a patient adversary.

Here is how I would fix this scene:

INT: STEEL MILL: NIGHT

"Dead Joker" is slumped in a wheelchair, surrounded by medical equipment. Harley Quinn is kneeling on the floor, crying and grieving. Batman looks at Joker's dead body in the wheelchair. For a moment our view focuses on the IV bag and the heart rate monitor, which is beeping and showing a flatline.

BATMAN:
(Accusingly, to Harley Quinn.) Nice try, Quinn. But this heart rate monitor isn't set up properly and the IV isn't even connected to the patient. What are you up to?

HARLEY:
(Angry, accusing.) YOU did this to him! This is all your fault!

BATMAN:
(Firmly.) I know this isn't Joker. Where is he?

(Joker blindsides Batman.)

This might seem like a trivial change, but I think this is really important to preserving Batman’s character. The problem with the original scene is that Batman spends several seconds with a blank look on his face. He never does or says anything clever. Since he just punched his way in here, this just drives home the impression that he’s a dull brute. We need to show him making observations and being clever before he gets ambushed. In my version, we create an expectation in the audience that Batman is about to figure something out. We get them pondering this little mystery, so they’ll be just as distracted (and thus surprised) as Batman when the ambush happens.

Joker’s Gambit

This shot is actually a flashback from the big reveal at the end of the game.

This shot is actually a flashback from the big reveal at the end of the game.

The game is hiding a really big secret at this point, but we’re going to spoil it. The secret is this: There are two Jokers.

One is the real Joker. He’s sick. His normally white skin is marked with nasty red pustules and he’s got a gross cough going. He’s apparently dying. His explanation for why he’s employing a doppelganger is that he wants to “keep up appearances”.

The other guy is actually Clayface, who has shape-shifted into Joker. He doesn’t really have an angle here. He’s just doing it because it’s “the role of a lifetime”. (Clayface was originally an actor before he became a shapeshifting supervillain.)

The game doesn’t cheat here. In fact, it constantly drops hints about what’s going on. When talking about Joker being sick, Harley Quinn said that “Joker hasn’t been himself lately.” While Batman was trying to puzzle his way into Joker’s lair, there was a conversation you could overhear if you stayed put instead of dashing off to your next goal.

You can hear Harley say, “Mister J, you all better! Oh wait. It’s not you, is it?”

To which Clayface Joker replies, “Be quiet Harley! You’ll ruin the surprise!”

The two Jokers have slightly different personalities and once you’re in on the joke you can usually tell which one you’re dealing with, even if you can’t see his face. Real Joker is nursing an occasional cough. Clayface Joker speaks clearly and uses a lot of film and theater based idioms and analogies. The real Joker is fighting to survive and trying to preserve the existing status quo. He doesn’t want to kill Batman and he doesn’t want to unmask him, because that would spoil their “game”. Clayface Joker is willing to kill Batman outright.

This is a wonderful twist, simply because of how careful the writer was to make the two Jokers distinct and to hide all of these clues in plain sight. It’s fun to re-play the game after you know the secret and look for all the little details you missed.

After Batman is knocked out, we cut away and play as Catwoman for a bit. I’ll talk more about the Catwoman plot later in the story. For now let’s just jump ahead to when Batman wakes up…

Plot Poison

You`ll never get away with this! I mean, you won`t CONTINUE to get away with this. Er, I guess you`ll STOP getting away with this very soon!

You`ll never get away with this! I mean, you won`t CONTINUE to get away with this. Er, I guess you`ll STOP getting away with this very soon!

Batman wakes up to find he’s tied to a wheelchair. Harley tries to unmask him, but Joker won’t allow her. He even foreshadows the Big Twist by saying, “No one’s who you think they are, my dear.” I love this version of the character that doesn’t want to know who Batman is. Everyone else is trying to unmask him, but Joker likes the game they’ve been playing and doesn’t want to spoil it.

Joker reveals that the Titan formula he took at the end of the previous game is now killing him. He’s been looking for a cure, but hasn’t any success. He wants Batman to help. To make sure Batman is properly motivated, he’s given Batman some of his poisoned blood while Bats was knocked out. This means Batman is doomed to die if he can’t find the cure.

Batman replies, “So we both die. I’m fine with that.”

But then Joker tells him that he’s been shipping his tainted blood to hospitals around the city. At that point Batman is motivated to help. Which means these poisoned civilians are his central motivation for everything he’s going to be doing for the next 9 hours.

Except, he’s going to delegate this job, never check up on it, and then forget all about it by the end. The writer is going to lose track of Batman’s main motivation for undertaking this quest.

This Titan business doesn’t really work if you think about it for more than two seconds. The writer is either hoping we’ve forgotten or they’ve forgotten themselves, but Batman actually got a dose of Titan at the end of Arkham Asylum. He “resisted” turning into a giant murder-beast by sheer force of will. He hasn’t had any adverse side-effects as a result of that dose since then.

I`ve just donated enough blood to infect everyone in Gotham General, and boy are my arms tired!

I`ve just donated enough blood to infect everyone in Gotham General, and boy are my arms tired!

Moreover, these two aren’t the only people to take Titan. Lots of goons took Titan in the first game. Obviously Batman didn’t kill those guysAlthough the very first one did apparently die of heart failure.. Those guys are still around (they show up now and again as a miniboss) and don’t seem to be dying of any toxin-related problems. And hang on, why did Joker shrink back down to normal size while all the other Titan freaks stayed big?

One of these must be true:

  1. The Titan monsters we fight here in Arkham City are leftover from the Asylum. (Why didn’t these guys shrink back down? Why aren’t they sick and dying?)
  2. These Titan monsters are new creations. (What happened to the old ones? Did they get sick? If so, why is this the first time anyone is hearing about Titan poisoning?)

The point is that the main ingredient in the Titan formula is contrivance. I know we’re not supposed to notice stuff like this, but sometimes analyst gotta analyze.

Having complained about all of that, I have to say that I LOVE this scene Between Batman and Joker. Complaints about the plot aside, it’s my favorite scene in the game. The moment where Joker steps into the light is a great reveal. The dialog is really clever, the cinematography is perfect, and (of course) the vocal performances are brilliant.

Bat-sidetracked!

Penguin! I`m trying to stop Protocol 10 and save Gotham from Joker`s poison, but I guess I have time to fight you, beat up all your men, defeat your traps, and battle the crazy monster you`ve got hidden in the basement.

Penguin! I`m trying to stop Protocol 10 and save Gotham from Joker`s poison, but I guess I have time to fight you, beat up all your men, defeat your traps, and battle the crazy monster you`ve got hidden in the basement.

Batman is now truly and irrevocably sidetracked. He’s supposed to be investigating Protocol 10, but now he needs to find a cure for this disease or toxin or whatever. Joker lets Batman go (by throwing him out a window, because Joker) and tells him that Mr. Freeze was working on a cure. But Freeze has been kidnapped by Penguin.

So we need to fight Penguin so we can rescue Freeze so he can cure Batman so Batman can save Gotham from Titan toxins so he can get back to finding out about Protocol 10 so he can stop Hugo Strange. We’re now hopelessly lost in a side-side-side quest, and Batman should be ashamed of himself for getting distracted like this.

Like most side-side quests, the events of the next chapter aren’t really important to the story. Batman enters the museum Penguin is using as his base and has to endure a gauntlet of brawling, stealth, climbing, and puzzles. He rescues some people, gets some new gadgets, and fights some minor bosses. He ends up cleaning out the museum, parts of the city, and the subway tunnels before he finally manages to rescue Freeze.

If you’ve never followed Bat-lore, the hook for Freeze is that he’s not really a for-profit criminal like the other rogues. He’s motivated by his dying wife. She’s got some fatal disease. While trying to save her, he managed to screw up his own physiology so that he’ll die if his body gets above freezing, which means he needs to wear this huge refrigerator suit all the time. His wife is now cryogenically frozen, and if she thaws out she’ll quickly die of the disease. Most of his capers involve plans to steal technology or resources needed to sustain or cure her.

The guy who voices Mr. Freeze somehow ALSO voices Kif from Futurama.

The guy who voices Mr. Freeze somehow ALSO voices Kif from Futurama.

So having Batman come to him for help with the Titan toxin makes some kind of sense on a comic-book level. Sure, in the real world scientists might spend most of their career on one particular disease and we’re long past the point in the tech tree where one person can go around single-handedly curing multiple things in a single lifetimeAlone. While fighting Batman and spending half his time in jail., but that’s not how things work in comic book land. Again, this is another place where making Batman too gritty and grounded really works against the character. Try to imagine how Mr. Freeze might work in Christopher Nolan’s Batman stories. His super-science schtick and refrigerator suit would be far too cartoonish and it would probably need to be dialed back or require a bunch of exposition and hand-waving to make his key attributes fit in the more realistic world.

But here in Arkham City, Freeze fits right in. He’s a fun and interesting guy and provides a nice contrast to the other supervillains.

Freeze says he can’t work on the cure for Titan without his suit. This is plausible enough I guess, although it means that he was thrown into prison while still wearing his high-tech weaponized super suit. We also learn that Penguin has stolen Freeze’s ice gun. So Freeze was also thrown into jail with his signature weapon?! Later we learn that his frozen wife is in here, too. A terminally ill, cryogenically frozen patient who has committed no crime is thrown into an anarchic open-air prison and the only person to take care of her is her heavily armed mad scientist husband?

Yeah. Just try to pull off a premise like that one, Zack Snyder. I dare youI’m kidding. Please don’t try to do that..

Given how devastatingly powerful Mr. Freeze is, I’d love to know how Penguin managed to capture him. As the story presents it, the Mr. Freeze gun is stronger than Batman, who is stronger than Penguin and all his goons, who is stronger than Mr. Freeze.

Officer Batman

Thanks for temporarily saving me, Batman. It`s always nice to take a break from being captured.

Thanks for temporarily saving me, Batman. It`s always nice to take a break from being captured.

Batman runs into several police officers here in Penguin’s museum. Commissioner Gordon sent in a team of undercover police posing as inmates to see what was going on inside of Arkham City. Their cover was blown, and Penguin has been terrorizing and killing them for sport.

In some stories, the police view Batman as a vigilante criminal. In other stories, he’s a phantom and they don’t really believe he exists. Sometimes they’re scared of him because they’re not sure what his agenda is. But the Arkham games are cut from the more classic version of the stories where Batman is an explicit and longstanding ally of the police.

You could even make the case that Batman has been unofficially integrated into the police force. Aside from the Bat-signal, there’s the fact that all of the officers he rescues treat him like a superior. It’s not just gratitude, either. They call him “sir”, follow his lead, and even take orders from him.

I like this more traditional take on the character. Batman’s skill at knocking out teeth and hyperextending limbs is easier to accept as heroic if we understand this is a universe where the police are clearly outclassed and everyone realizes how much they need him.

The Arkham games blend two very different versions of the Batman. It takes the “unofficially sanctioned by the police” version of Batman (story) and blends it with the physical brutality (gameplay) we associate with darker versions of the character. That’s a hard line to walk. It’s another area where I think Arkham Knight struggles to hold together because they intensified the violence and destruction to the point where it feels ill-fitting. Batman’s wrecking-ball Bat-tank and his Death Race 2000 approach to law enforcement don’t look like something that belongs in the same universe as these explicitly honest cops calling Batman “sir”.

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Footnotes:

[1] Although the very first one did apparently die of heart failure.

[2] Alone. While fighting Batman and spending half his time in jail.

[3] I’m kidding. Please don’t try to do that.


202020666 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. Bropocalypse says:

    Asylum was successful and also it had a large number of Batman villains involved, therefor all Arkham games need to involve a large number of villains.
    I wonder if the story would have been stronger if it were more episodic, less intertwined. Maybe have it so Batman doesn’t even know about Protocol 10 to start with, but he goes in to investigate anyway because running a charitable and honest rehabilitation center isn’t Hugo Strange’s bag. Instead you might have Batman try to eke clues out of each of the villains, which take the form of some kind of lie Strange told them about what Arkham City’s for that gives them each some kind of other motivation for their actions within it. An especially clever writer could even have it such that the clues taken together imply what Protocol 10 is for. A challenge, I know, but I would be interested to see how that scenario would pan out.

    Unrelated: I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall that it was implied or stated that Joker’s deteriorating condition was due to an interaction between titan and whatever it is that made him him. Anyone else?

    Also, this is a minor point, but Batman did inject himself with the titan cure at the end of Asylum. The whole ‘force of will’ bit beforehand was just thrown in for thematic reasons I guess.

    • MrGuy says:

      Asylum was successful and also it had a large number of Batman villains involved, therefor all Arkham games need to involve a large number of villains.

      The thing about Asylum is that it sort of have a large number of villains mentioned, but few were actually involved.

      The Joker and Harley play major roles, but they’re kind of a package deal. Ivy and her plants play a significant role in Act 2. Killer Croc is built up more than his role in the plot warrants, but I guess he does get that one “boss fight.” And Riddler is the sidequest/comic relief who really plays no major role in the actual plot and never directly appears.

      And that’s it. 5 villains who play a significant role (and that’s counting Joker and Harley separately). Zsasz I guess gets a cameo onstage, but he’s a one-shot tutorial villain, not even a miniboss.

      Other villains are mentioned (often in the Riddler quests), but don’t get any real stage time. You see Clayface off in a corner. You see Two Face’s cell, and the Mad Hatter’s tea set, etc. But the actual number of villains is relatively small.

      Compare that to City and The Game That Doesn’t Exist, where there are easily a dozen rogue’s gallery opponents you actually fight.

      To me, the genius in Arkham Asylum is that it weaves a lot of Batman mythos into the game WITHOUT having to drag “now fight THIS guy! Now THAT one!” into the game. It’s totally appropriate for Arkham Asylum, since most Batman rogues spent time here. But it’s actually surprisingly light on villains-as-enemies, especially compared to later games.

      • Christopher says:

        Well, Scarecrow too. And Bane. But yeah, there’s a main, clear villain all the time, and the other villains basically act as his mooks, willing or unwilling.

      • Cinebeast says:

        I’d say Scarecrow has an even more significant role than Killer Croc, so that’s 6 villains, actually.

        EDIT: Oops, and Bae too. He’s really only got that one fight, but on the flipside most of the plot wouldn’t even occur without him, since his super juice was instrumental in creating the Titan formula. Not sure if that earns him a spot as the seventh villain or not.

      • Bropocalypse says:

        I mean sure, it’s fewer villains than an average episode of Superfriends, but it’s still a lot of antagonists for one story. If you combined the bad guys of Kill Bill with the original Star Wars trilogy and gave each of them an arc interspersed over sections of (admittedly thrilling but not impactful on the story) stealth and combat you’d have roughly the same density as Arkham Asylum. And yes, the later games are even more villain-stretched. But that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?

        Batman is commonly accepted to have the best rogue’s gallery of any superhero, and I can understand an enthusiasm to include basically any of them above the D-list. But even in the first game you could cut at least half of them and not alter the story too much. It’s not like the boss battles in these games are amazing anyway(though I will admit the Solomun Grudy fight in City is one of my all-time favorites in terms of spectacle). But there’s big dumb boss fights because video games gotta have big dumb boss fights.

        I think that’s the problem with writing in a lot of video games. It serves a purpose, it gets us from setpiece-to-setpiece and doesn’t need to do much else. Not everyone cares about the quality of writing, they’re here to punch things. That’s perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong. I understand you sometimes have to compromise script-quality to achieve a consistent gameplay experience or else you get things like Firewatch and Heavy Rain. But I don’t think shoving in tons and tons of villains was necessarily the best choice here.

    • Alex says:

      “Unrelated: I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall that it was implied or stated that Joker’s deteriorating condition was due to an interaction between titan and whatever it is that made him him. Anyone else?”

      That was my take on it. The Joker’s blood contains not one but two cocktails of supervillain steroids, so it’s not surprising that something went horribly wrong.

  2. Wait… I bought the game a few months ago, which I should continue, and I’m in the museum to rescue Mr Freeze but I’ve not been through the Joker ambush. I think I was to Joker’s base but don’t remember going through the ambush. In fact, I don’t remember it being clear at all why am I supposed to rescue him in my game. And that it came after a visit to some GPCD precinct building or hospital. I think something glitched and it skipped that part?

    • Taellosse says:

      That’s possible. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be able to enter the museum until you’ve met Joker. Pretty much all the story missions are gated either with plot doors (won’t unlock until a certain other event triggers it) or the need for a piece of gear you have to acquire through an earlier story mission.

      The GCPD building is where Freeze holes up after you free him, which you can enter earlier, I think, but there’s not much reason to. If I had to guess, I’d say you got turned around after first arriving, or decided to explore a bit, and some plot flag misfired on you. It might be worth loading an earlier save/starting over.

  3. Darren says:

    Regarding the Titan element of the story, I’m going to cheat a bit and look ahead to Arkham Knight. I think it’s clear that the writers conceptualized Joker as being a very unique case. It’s not Titan poisoning that Batman is trying to prevent, it’s Titan+Joker blood poisoning, which seems to be something uniquely different. Joker’s line, “There’s nothing normal about me” certainly plays into this idea.

    Are you going to talk in more depth about Penguin’s museum? It’s my favorite part of the game, and there’s a lot going on with it, including yet another detour into the subway system to take out his signal jammers.

    • Vermander says:

      I absolutely love museums, particularly huge, cavernous, slightly creepy ones. Any time one appears in a game (which is surprisingly often) I end up detouring from whatever mission I’m on to actually walk through the museum and look at all the exhibits. I even did this in the horrible racist museum in Bioshock Infinity.

      I’m also usually annoyed when I inevitably end up destroying the museum in a fight scene (didn’t feel so bad doing this in Bioshock).

  4. CJGeringer says:

    Will you expand on penguin´s hideout? I hoenstly think that it deserves soem more text, it had soem nifty enfiromental details and really helped give penguin a personality.

  5. Hal says:

    Also worth pointing out that most medical scientists aren’t engineers. (In fact, a lot of us are really bad at math.) For Victor to build his own cryo suit, and a weaponized cryo gun, speaks to a level of expertise that only exists in comic books.

    I really love the Sentinels of the Multiverse take on this concept. Absolute Zero is a character afflicted with the same condition as Mr. Freeze, but he’s just a normal guy. The government ends up making a cryo suit and says, “You want it? Great. You can pay it off by being part of our new super hero team.”

    • Vermander says:

      Because “scientist” is a generic profession in comic books. Anyone with a lab coat is usually equally well versed in robotics, aerospace engineering, quantum mechanics, xenobiology, paranormal psychology, necromancy, and whatever else the plot calls for.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well,there are a few rare examples of geniuses that have phds in multiple fields.Usually its very similar fields,like physics and chemistry,or chemistry and biology,but having someone be an engineer and a hematologist is not that unbelievable.Presumably,he was an engineer and turned to medical work once his wife got sick.And I seem to remember that one medical advancement did come from a man who was something else,but decided to study medicine somewhat late in life because his wife(or was it son?)got terminally ill.

      • William Newman says:

        “a few rare examples of geniuses that have phds in multiple fields.Usually its very similar fields,like physics and chemistry,or chemistry and biology,but having someone be an engineer and a hematologist is not that unbelievable.”

        Multiple degrees (like your “phds in multiple fields”) are not really required. There were quite a few physicists that did good work in molecular biology around the 1950s. It’s been decades since I last read about it, so I only remember a vague general impression that they generally didn’t treat biology degrees as a prerequisite. (Hold my Ph. D. and watch this…) I do specifically remember Max Delbruck and Francis Crick, though, and from Wikipedia Delbruck didn’t bother with another degree after physics, and Crick seems to’ve gotten his Nobel prize for work done before getting a Ph. D. Delbruck not bothering to get another degree seems like an especially sharp field switch: in his (physics) degree program he did extremely physics-y stuff like analyzing the scattering of gamma rays by polarized vacuums, but that didn’t stop him from moving on to getting a Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for work involving the genetics of the interaction of bacteria with the viruses (“bacteriophages”) that infect them.

        (That super-obscure-sounding line of investigation turned out to be ridiculously productive from the late 40s to the early 70s. In hindsight it’s not too surprising that it was a great way to do cheap fast experiments which helped figure out the genetic code and other things about the molecular fundamentals of biology. But even in hindsight it is pretty surprising that that line of research also ended up discovering stuff that was so absurdly convenient for genetic engineering, notably plasmids and restriction enzymes.)

        • Taellosse says:

          It was easier to be multi-disciplinary prior to the late 20th century. The various fields of science were still uncovering broad conceptual elements of their respective disciplines, and it was possible to be a generalist and still discover new things. These days, for the most part, you need to have deep knowledge of a particular field to know enough to be researching something truly new, and the more specialized you must be, the less opportunity there is to study additional disciplines. It’s been getting less and less possible for anything but the most exceptionally brilliant polymaths to develop real expertise in multiple fields of study as science broadens it’s depth of understanding.

          But pop culture built the concept of “scientist” off of far older archetypes than what we actually have in the modern era – in a lot of ways we still have a mental model for the character that’s almost as old as the formalization of the scientific method itself – it was an established concept when Mary Shelley was writing Frankenstein. The set dressing and trappings change, but the popular imagining of the character doesn’t really.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Well you don’t really need a degree to publish stuff in a field. You do need to know your stuff, know the unwritten rules of expected methodology of the field and be able to publish interesting work that contributes to our understanding of the field. And that is it. Now if you have something that is earth shattering and upsets the whole understanding of the field you might want to get somebody known from the field on board so your ideas don’t get dismissed as ravings of somebody that doesn’t know his stuff but otherwise degres aren’t really a prequisite.

        On the other hand if you want resources for your research and to be paid you will need a degree in that field or a CV that shows you have experience in it though.

    • MrGuy says:

      Part of this is definitely comic book conceit – worlds with super heroes and super villains also have super geniuses.

      But, to some degree, it’s also a conceit of serialized fiction – rather than have to explain a large team of researchers and engineers, each of which contributes their part to the doomesday device, all of whom have their own origin stories and motivations of why they’re doing this, it’s a heck of a lot easier to have that one guy we know do it pretty much all on his own.

      Tom Clancy was an absolute stickler for accuracy and realism in his Cold War/CIA fiction – he gave lectures on military history based on his research. And yet, he has the same ~10 people all teaming up to save the world in every book. Not just the main character – the significant side characters “just happen” to be the main ones involved every single time.

      Sometimes, it’s just easier to focus on a small number of people and gloss the mammoth complexity of huge teams of individual contributors over.

      • Hal says:

        I can see that. It’s why crime shows usually have a single person working in a forensics lab who’s an expert on computers, DNA sequencing, fingerprint matching, chemical analysis, pattern recognition, etc. etc. etc.

        • Adrian Burt says:

          For TV shows like CSI, NCIS, ABCEDFGIS, not only is it easier on the writers to have one science character do all the science, but it’s cheaper to simply cast one person for a role than the 15 people a proper lab would require. Bones tries to hand-wave this issue by having most of the lab be automated by their magic super computer.

          • Peter H Coffin says:

            Plus, you’ll often see a pilot or first couple of episodes with a more realistic number of people doing jobs that require different specialties, but by season 2, the place empties out and there’s nobody but the leads around, until you start wondering how a major metro area can get by with a half-dozen beat cops, the grizzled sergeant, four detectives, and a captain with a stomach ulcer, except by scheduling exactly one crime a week.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Not just in comics. This happens practically in all fiction, especially the one that has a visual component.
      The example that always springs to mind here for some reason, probably because I noticed i there first, is Gaius Baltar from BSG, who is initially a computer engineer I think but becomes their go to expert for EVERYTHING even tangentially related to science.

      • Taellosse says:

        It’s kind of funny that Star Trek does a better job of this than most, considering how fast and loose they often are with the techno-babble. But basically every show/film in the franchise has 3 main cast members that divide up the science expertise – the Chief Engineer, the Doctor, and the Science Officer. In TOS, of course, Scott, McCoy, and Spock; in TNG LaForge, Crusher/Pulaski, and Data (with pinch hitting from Wesley in the early seasons); DS9 has O’Brien, Bashir, and Dax; I never really watched Voyager or Enterprise, but I know they had similar dynamics. And it’s generally understood that at least two of those – Engineering and MedBay – have additional staff that do a lot of behind-the-scenes work for their commanding officer. It’s even made clear at various points that there are several other departments of scientific specialists on the Enterprise-D and Deep Space 9, even though they’re not actually seen that often.

  6. Warclam says:

    Unusual to see the spelling “kidnaped”. It’s not wrong, but “kidnapped” is the usual spelling in all dialects I’m aware of (yes, including both English and US).

  7. Falterfire says:

    I always just figured any Titan goons still lurking about were the result of the Titan that Bane has you go around cleaning up for a sidequest. That said, I didn’t go super deep into the story of City, so there might be something I missing that explains why they can’t be new Titans who are using the Titan from that particular quest.

  8. MrGuy says:

    Regarding the odd sized art assets, I agree that screenshot makes Batman look 4 feet tall.

    But I’d argue it’s also appropriate. Older warehouses/industrial buildings (the kind that would have wooden floors, which does seem an odd choice in a steel mill…) really do have much wider floorboards than you’d find in a house, and they do tend to have wider, taller doors. I’ve been in a building that looks very close to the screenshot there.

    Maybe the fact that it makes the scale of the characters look off is a good argument it shouldn’t have been chosen. But I don’t think the assets themselves are wrong.

  9. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

    “I`ve just donated enough blood to infect everyone in Gotham General, and boy are my arms tired!”

    Nicely done. You have a great handle on his voice.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    His super-science schtick and refrigerator suit would be far too cartoonish and it would probably need to be dialed back or require a bunch of exposition and hand-waving to make his key attributes fit in the more realistic world.

    Funnily enough,his suit and the reason he is inside it would be far easier to explain in the real world.There are a few diseases that cause your temperature to go so high that your brain(and some other organs)literally cooks inside of your skull.Adapting one of these to make it so freezes natural body temperature is around 45-50°C is far easier than adapting his instant freezing gun.

  11. xedo says:

    The thing that bugs me on reflection about this is that Joker’s plan with the blood he donated was too discreet. Batman didn’t know about it, so he had no reason to come check on him. Joker is about what, 12, 18 hours from death? Batman would never have come if Hugo Strange hadn’t kidnapped him and Batman hadn’t randomly decided this had to be Joker’s fault in spite of Strange’s own villainous monologue.

    This game might have gone better without the Strange plotline. Just have Batman realize there’s some suspicious joker-like blood being distributed out, then come investigate. Batman looks smarter for being proactive and realizing something is afoot. Joker looks smarter because his ploy to manipulate Batman gets his attention and lures him into a trap. As a bonus, Batman also looks smarter without the Strange storyline because the protocol 10 incident as written makes him look like an awful detective, since he never tries to find out what it is before it happens.

  12. Christopher says:

    The Adventures of Batman and Robin game for Sega CD bizarrely used the same twist of Clayface playing the bad guy in secret. I think this is one of those cases where that’s okay. The game basically has a whole original episode of Batman TAS in it(the “Lost episode”). Wikipedia isn’t giving me any writers credits on it, but Paul Dini was one of the Batman TAS writers. The man also wrote Arkham Asylum and shares writing credit on Arkham City(But is absent from Origins and Knight). It’s not a stretch that he might have reused a cool old idea and just straight up done it better.

    In the Sega CD game, it’s basically a one-scene twist. Batman fights lots of his foes and is given a hint by the joker that the person behind all of them making mischief this night is Rupert Thorne(A crime boss figure in Batman TAS, not really used in the Arkham games). When Batman and Robin storm his boat, it turns out to have been Clayface in disguise, apparently on his own initiative and just to have an actually fun villain as the final boss.

    I was real surprised when I watched the episode and discovered the similarities with Arkham City, but there’s no comparison in execution. The whole Joker twist is very cool and well done.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXvlx1O8G00
    (the scene in question is around 12 minutes in)

  13. Christopher says:

    Given how devastatingly powerful Mr. Freeze is, I’d love to know how Penguin managed to capture him. As the story presents it, the Mr. Freeze gun is stronger than Batman, who is stronger than Penguin and all his goons, who is stronger than Mr. Freeze.

    I wonder if Solomon Grundy can just tank it. He’s not that indrecidly strong in-game it seems, but as far as the DCAU goes he’s basically The Hulk, and can take Superman punches. It’s possible I might just forget a line where they kidnapped Freeze’s wife and forced him to cooperate that way, but I can imagine a Grundy/Freeze fight where Grundy can just break all the ice.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnuqMyU9fIQ

    • Hal says:

      What’s funny about that reference is that, in The Batman (the animated series that ran in the mid/late-2000s) Solomon Grundy was . . . Clayface, taking on the guise in order to commit certain crimes.

      “Clayface pretends to be someone else” probably got used a number of times over the years, even if we don’t remember all the various uses.

      • Christopher says:

        Yeah, that’s not unreasonable. I mean, it’s his whole gig apart from the whole being a huge monster thing. I really appreciated that fun fact too! I’ve watched most of the DCAU, but there’s still lots I haven’t seen, and in addition to that there’s stuff like The Batman that I’ve barely seen a few episodes of. I think I actually watched the beginning of this episode, but I never got to the reveal.

        • Hal says:

          The Batman is . . . okay.

          I recognize there’s a huge nostalgia factor among older millennials for Timm/Dini Batman. I’m no stranger to this. So take it from that perspective when I say that The Batman isn’t ever going to replace the cartoon from the 90s in anyone’s echelon of DCAU shows.

          The first two seasons are pretty good, an attempt to make a 21st century Batman: Dark without reaching for Miller or Nolan, pushing the World’s Greatest Detective angle.

          Then you get season three. Suddenly it’s the Caped Crusader and it’s like we’re back in the 60s. Batgirl arrives and MarySues all over everything. (She was truly the worst character on the show.)

          Eventually the Justice League makes an appearance, which is okay. Really, that’s about the best thing you can say for the entire series: It’s okay. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It’s not particularly memorable (except for the movie, The Batman vs. Dracula. That was just ridiculous.)

    • Taellosse says:

      In some versions, Solomon Grundy gets stronger and more resistant to damage each time he dies and resurrects (sort of a voodoo version of Doomsday, actually). The first couple times he shows up, he’s a bit of a challenge for Batman, but not completely out of his league, in terms of going toe-to-toe. But before long he outclasses any non-powered hero in raw power, and starts presenting a legitimate threat to Superman.

      It’s implied, as I recall, in Arkham City, that Grundy has only put in appearance at most once before, so presumably he’s still on the low-end of his power creep.

  14. Phantos says:

    It’s like someone told Paul Dini to write the story as if Batman was five years old this time, and no one told the people working on his character model in-game.

  15. Geebs says:

    not because Batman is dumb and inert

    Batman was on the lookout for traps, he just didn’t xenon

  16. Thomas says:

    Nothing to contribute, but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this article! It pointed out a ton of really neat aspects of the story I’d never picked up on.

  17. CPhlebas says:

    There’s a comics perspective that makes Batman’s bumbling entrance into Arkham City more understandable. It’s the set up to No Man’s Land, which is: Arkham City gets hit by an earthquake and becomes an unsafe disaster zone. And you know the argument of “hey Bruce Wayne, you’re an uber-billionaire, why don’t you use your influence instead of punching people”? He does that. Spends months committed to the Bruce Wayne identity, is hardly Batman at all, doing political/publicity work, and then gets blindsided by a super-villain plot to turn the unsafe wreckage of Arkham into a free-for-all prison.

    *spoilers* It’s kind of a neat switch. The setup of No Man’s Land Plot involves the greedy villain version of Lex Luthor (who is experienced in elaborate, non-violent setups because otherwise Superman punches) baiting Batman into being Bruce Wayne and fumbling at political maneuvers. The Injustice: Gods Among Us setup involves the Joker (who is extremely practiced at trying to bait human vengeance reactions) baiting Superman into a human vengeance reaction that devastates him.

    It’s all too much exposition for any one story. but interesting.

  18. Sean says:

    the IV isn’t even connected to the patent

    I would not have expected Batman to be so up-to-date on US Patent law. ;)

  19. Nalyd says:

    Cops unofficially sanctioning or covertly performing excessive violence against criminals is. . . kind of expected? It’s not a surprise to me at all when it happens in the real world, let alone the darker world of Gotham. Like, you know the comic book character most popular among cops? The one you’ll see bumper stickers of on their personal vehicles(and occasionally patrol cars)? The Punisher. If Batman was running around beating up criminals I’d be more inclined to believe the average officer thinking it would have been way better if he’d just killed a bunch of them so they don’t have to waste time cleaning them up and putting them in prison and arresting them again later, as they paddy-wagon the latest load of Bat-victims to the ER. But also kinda happy that at least they got beat up real real bad and they hurt a lot, because they deserve it.

  20. Cubic says:

    Since the next thread got locked down before I could even see it, I’ll use this space to note Ra’s al ghul aka “head of the ghoul” aka رئيس الغول nowadays seems to be transcribed as “rayiys alghawl”. Thank you Google Translate. So I guess they call him “Ray” at the gas station.

    • Taellosse says:

      Personally, I find the disagreement over “correct” pronunciation of a transliterated name from another language that uses a completely different written alphabet which is not only spoken natively in perhaps a dozen countries across an entire subcontinent but also has been for millennia kind of absurd. There’s certain to be regional and period-specific variations in how that name is pronounced, they’re going to use phonemes that don’t exist in English at all, and the transliteration was done by work-for-hire writers of disposable entertainment 45 years ago. I don’t know how any given Arabic speaker would say the name ought to be pronounced, but I’d be willing to bet if you got one from Lebanon, another from Iraq, and a third from Saudi Arabia, they’d all have a subtly different answer – and odds are good that 3 more people from different parts of those same countries would have 3 more variations (okay, maybe not Lebanon – that country’s pretty small, and it might not have significant dialect variation within its borders). And all 6 answers would be different from someone native to the time and place where the character was supposedly born and raised.

      • Cubic says:

        Mainly a problem for the Gotham PD radio, I guess.

        If you meet the guy, he might say “I was born as (hmm hmm historically accurate sounds), then was known by the world as Ra’s al Ghul. Now the fools insist on calling me Rayiys Alghawl. Faugh! I spit on their professors and astrologers! But my passport is up to date.”

  21. Taellosse says:

    So, Shamus, on Part 10 of this series, posted yesterday, you had a disagreement with a commenter and said you were closing the thread with him. Did you intend to close comments for the entire post? Because that appears to be what has happened there – the comment box is missing from the bottom of the page, and no existing comments have the “reply to this” link on them anymore, regardless of whether they are related to the R’as Al-Ghul name thread or not. Maybe that was your intention, or maybe closing comments on your back end is an all-or-nothing thing, but in case it was accidental, I thought I’d mention it so you could make appropriate adjustments.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Shamus was just so infuriated by the guy that he locked the whole thread instead of just silencing him.Maybe that was a mistake,since here people have shown that others can talk civilly about even that part of the post.

      • Shamus says:

        I locked the thread to keep myself from blowing up about how unreasonable it was. A 2,000 word political screed wasn’t going to calm things down. Locking the thread let me walk away and cool down without worrying I’d have to come back to another half dozen people weighing in on either side.

        Yeah, it was totally overkill given the scale of the problem. But it was better than the alternative. We all have bad days. It sucks when the mod is having a bad day, but I do what I can.

  22. Jarenth says:

    I can’t believe nobody made this dumb joke yet, but, of course Penguin would be able to take out Mr. Freeze. Penguins are built to deal with the cold.

  23. Blackbird71 says:

    I’m a bit late to the party (catching up on archives I missed in the past few months), but I wanted to comment on one thing:

    You could even make the case that Batman has been unofficially integrated into the police force.

    If you wan to take the Adam West Batman into account, I recall an episode of the series (or it may have been the movie) in which Commissioner Gordon specifically explains that both Batman and Robin are “duly deputized officers of the law,” so at least in that version of the story Batman’s integration into the police force is completely official. I don’t know whether this detail carries over into the Arkham games or not, but given the way you describe Batman being treated by police officers, I’d think it’s a definite possibility.

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