Batman follows the assassin and finally catches up with her on a rooftop. They get in a little scuffle where Batman surreptitiously plants a tracking device on her. Batman knows the assassin won’t kill him, and he can’t follow her home if he knocks her out, so he allows himself to be pinned.
It turns out Robin has slipped into the city. He sees this situation, reads it wrong, and swoops in to “save” Batman. This results in a little misunderstanding and character conflict that works really well for setting up tension between the two characters. Which is odd, because this is Robin’s first and last appearance in the game.
Batman hands off the “Gotham’s hospitals have maybe been poisoned by Joker’s toxin blood” plot to him. Which is a shame, since the writers forget all about this plot before the end. Robin will phone Batman up in a few hours for exposition, but this story didn’t need him for that. We already have Alfred and Oracle to deliver different types of exposition.
Basically, Robin serves no purpose in this story and this scene sets up a character dynamic it never uses. In this scene, Robin is here to bring Batman another Bat-gadget, when the story has already established that Batman has automated delivery systems for exactly this sort of job. None of the other supervillains refer to Robin. Hugo Strange never mentions him. Batman doesn’t request his help, even when he’s screwed and desperately in need of help. It’s like Robin doesn’t exist outside of this scene.
The most likely explanation I can come up with is that the writers were essentially using this scene to test and see if the audience was open to having Robin around or if they wanted to stick with stoic loner Batman. Perhaps they were wary of building the next game around an idea the audience hated and decided to field-test it first. (If that’s really the case, then I wish they’d done the same sort of testing with the stupid Bat-Tank.)
I don`t need you here Robin. I can continue to ignore Protocol Ten without your help.
The other explanation is that they were doing a little worldbuilding in preparation for the sequel, which does indeed feature Robin. Although, this is an odd and perfunctory introduction to him. In Arkham Asylum, Batman dealt with a full-blown escape and never once entertained the possibility of calling for Robin. This led the audience to make the (quite reasonable) assumption that this particular Batman didn’t have a Robin yet. (Or perhaps anymore.) But now this scene makes it clear that there is a Robin, and Batman just didn’t see fit to call him. And here in Arkham City, Batman sends Robin away rather than enlisting his help.
So what we have is a version of Batman that has teamed up with Robin but never wants Robin to do anything. The subplot involving the toxin in Gotham’s blood supply could easily have been handed off to Commissioner Gordon. Indeed, that would make more sense than giving the job to Robin. What’s Robin going to do? Punch the toxins? Quip the toxins away? This is not a problem that can be solved with acrobatics and banter.
No matter how you look at it, the Robin in this universe is kind of strange. How long has he been Robin? Through cultural osmosis I’m aware that there have been many Robins. Some have died, others turned evil, and others moved on to solo careers. Which one is thisObviously it’s Tim Drake, but that’s not going to convey much to anyone that doesn’t follow the comics.? Where are we in the mythology of Batman? Is this a new Robin that Batman doesn’t yet trust, or an old Robin after they’ve had a falling out?
“But Shamus, this is actually based on the Batman & Robin from The Animated Series / The Comics / The Brave and the Bold.”
I’m sure there is some version of Batman out there that fits with this and gives us some kind of context. That’s fine. That’s great for fans. But I’m not going to watch hundreds of hours of cartoons or read hundreds of comic to understand how this particular duo works. I’m just saying that if this Robin scene is here for the worldbuilding then it’s not doing it’s job. Telling the audience to go consume other, larger works is not worldbuilding.
I’m not saying this part is bad. I’m saying I could use way more of it. Considering how massively important the Robin legacy is in Arkham Knight, it’s really frustrating that he gets so little screen time in this game. Heck, I think he gets fewer lines of dialog than sidequest punching bag Mad Hatter.
Some concept art of Arkham City`s Robin. In the game, his hood is up so you can`t tell that his head is shaved.
I am not a huge fan of this take on Robin’s look. This Games Radar article talks about the developer’s rationale for the design. It pretty much confirms what I said above: They’re basically assuming we’re all Batman nerds who are up-to-date on the ever-changing ocean of Bat-lore.
At launch there was a forum post from the artist explaining this UFC style Robin. The forum seems to have vanishedIs it just me, or does it seem like the larger the company, the more often they move or reboot their forums? but this article has the quote:
We wanted to create a Robin that players would identify as a contemporary character and move away from the traditional ‘Boy Wonder’ image that most people know. Our vision of Robin is the one of a troubled young individual that is calm and introverted at times, but very dangerous and aggressive if provoked. The shaved head is inspired by cage fighters, because we thought that Robin might be doing that in his spare time to keep him on his toes. Still, we kept all the classic trademarks of Robin’s appearance, such as the red and yellow colors of his outfit, the cape and the mask.
– Kan Muftic
For one thing, it breaks the alleged connection with whatever existing work this game is building on. They’re clearly making their own version of Robin, but they’re not telling us about this particular version. So this game is based on existing Batman stories (but we won’t tell you which ones) except for the parts we’ve changed (we won’t tell you what we’ve changed) and is possibly set in the future of some familiar Batman (but we won’t tell you how far in the future or what happened) but… maybe not?
In the artist’s defense, I do understand the desire to redesign the character. Robin is an odd leftover from Gold and Silver Age Batman stories. The Boy Wonder was the perfect sidekick for Practical Father Figure Batman. If you’re a kid reading comics (because that was the target audience in those days) then the character you connect with – the one you aspire to be – is not Batman, but Robin.
But then over the years the audience shifted. Comic fans got older and began to connect with Batman more than Robin. Batman changed out of the blue unitard and slipped into grey and yellow spandex, which gave way to black spandex, which became black tactical armor, which eventually morphed into black power armor. The friendly do-gooder was gradually replaced by brutal, grimdark, traumatized, fanatical Batman. As Batman got darker, so did his foes. The colorful crazy antics of the old rogues gallery gave way to gritty 90’s add-ons like Batman back-breaker Bane and the serial killer Zsasz. It’s not that these new guys have a higher body count (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually lower, given that the Silver Age villains had a several decades head start) but the context and tone of their evil deeds is so much darker.
I`m not sure where this image is from, but it`s the best one to show the contrast between Boy Wonder and Dark Knight.
This transformation changed Batman, his foes, and the city he protected. And the longer it went on, the more this teenage boy in a red vest and green underpants with a yellow cape started to look hilariously out of place. This tonal clash is probably why writers have such a hard time with the character. Just as the writers will use any excuse they can find to build a story around Joker, they seem equally eager to write Robin out of the storyAgain, this applies less to comics and more to the movies and games..
The entire Arkham series seems to have skipped Robin. Arkham Origins took place before Robin, Arkham Asylum doesn’t mention Robin, Arkham City briefly shows a redesigned Robin, and Arkham Knight reveals that we went through multiple Robins and that several character arcs took place in the spaces between the gamesArkham Knight reveals there have been at least three Robins:
1) Jason Todd. (Killed by Joker.)
2) Tim Drake (Current.)
3) Dick Grayson. (Graduated to solo work as Nightwing.).
While I understand the desire to re-work Robin so he fits with the modern Gotham, I think this UFC style guy isn’t really the solution. I’m wary that he will eventually morph into Batman Jr. If the character has any value at all, it should be as a contrast and counterpoint to Captain Scowlyface. My problem is less with the shaved head and more with the idea that he’s “calm and introverted at times, but very dangerous and aggressive if provoked”. I know Batman is a popular character, but I don’t think teaming him up with another, slightly smaller Batman will make for a good story.
 Obviously it’s Tim Drake, but that’s not going to convey much to anyone that doesn’t follow the comics.
 Is it just me, or does it seem like the larger the company, the more often they move or reboot their forums?
 Again, this applies less to comics and more to the movies and games.
 Arkham Knight reveals there have been at least three Robins:
1) Jason Todd. (Killed by Joker.)
2) Tim Drake (Current.)
3) Dick Grayson. (Graduated to solo work as Nightwing.)