And so we come to the actual ending of the game. Batman glides down from the Wonder Tower explosion and Clayface-Joker gets on the JumbotronI imagine Hugo Strange had a hard time justifying the cost of his ten-meter outdoor flatscreen TV in the Arkham City Budget. to taunt him in front of all of Arkham City. Joker has his girlfriend, and he wants Batman to come to the movie theater.
First Batman has to work his way to the theater through a nest of snipers who are all covering each other. They’re lining the canyon of dilapidated buildings leading up to the theater entrance. The game is not messing around at this point. Even on easy difficulty, these guys can kill Batman pretty quickly. Nearly every sniper is covered by at least one other sniper, and so if you’re sloppy and try to attack the wrong guy you’ll get shot several times in the attempt. You need to probe around the edges and find someone who isn’t covered.
It’s not a difficult puzzle, but it’s a slow one to unravel because after you take out one sniper, you often have to travel several blocks, all the way around to the other side of the canyon to get behind the next vulnerable target. The whole time, Joker has a gun to Talia’s head and is taunting Batman. It’s a good thing Joker is so much fun and Mark Hamill is so delightful in the role, because otherwise this would be really tedious.
Once inside the theater, it looks like Clayface-Joker is planning on shooting Talia in front of Batman. Then we get one of my favorite lines of the whole game. Batman stops short and says, “Let’s just talk about this.”
On one hand, this is a really good line because it underscores the fact that Joker has all the power here. Batman doesn’t have any plans, any tricks, or any gadgets to get him out of this. Batman came here because he had no other choice. On the other hand, this moment would be a lot stronger if Batman hadn’t spent most of the night bumbling around with no plans and no idea what was going on. It’s not like he’s suddenly without a plan. He’s still without a plan, only now the stakes are higher.
It’s a good moment, but it’s also where the entire Joker plot unravels. Often I complain about “Fridge Logic”, where something seems fine when you’re caught up in the moment, but later you realize it made no sense. But it’s not as bad as the reverse problem, which is when the story seems confusing and contradictory and doesn’t make sense until you’re able to piece it together later. That’s fine for plot-twisting mystery stories, but in an action adventure story you really don’t want the audience to be baffled during the climax.
“Gimmie the cure!” Joker orders.
And then the player is thinking: Wait, why does he think Batman has the cure? We already know Harley Quinn stole it. And he appears to be cured, so why doesn’t he have it, and why does he still want it?
A second later it’s revealed that Talia stole it. But this doesn’t make sense because she’s been in Joker’s custody since the last time we saw her.
Even if she stole it from him while she was a prisoner, why would Joker think that Batman has it?
The game never explains it, but the truth is that Talia stole it from Harley Quinn before she surrendered to Joker. Talia’s wording is SUPER unhelpful. She says “Harley Quinn stole it for him, I took it back.” Which just makes it sound like she took it from Joker. What she really means is, “I took it back BEFORE HARLEY GAVE IT TO HIM”. Which means that she had the cure in her pocket back at the steel mill, when she left Batman trapped under a pile of rubble and ran off with Joker to give him access to the Lazarus pit.
Hang on, Joker is healthy. Why is he still after the cure?
This is answered a second later when Talia seems to break free and murder Joker. (Which is still really Clayface at this point.) Then we finally have the “two Jokers” reveal and the real Joker shoots Talia from the shadows.
Hang on, wasn’t Talia going to give him the Lazarus pit? Did that happen? Wasn’t that the whole reason he let Batman go in the first place? Did he forget?
This is partially answered a few minutes later. Clayface reveals himself and we get a great big Super Mario Sunshine-style boss fight driven entirely by mechanics where every action Clayface takes can only be explained by “It’s a boss fight.”
At the end, we see that Joker has wired the floor to explode. The resulting hole leads straight down into Old Gotham. In fact, it leads down into the chamber with the Lazarus pit.
Just… what? Is this what Talia told him? She told him the pool of immortality was directly under the movie theater and he 100% believed her without making any effort to verify? Not only does he believe that a pool of immortality exists, he also believes she’s willing to give it to him. And he believes that it’s directly under the theater. And he knows blowing open the floor will grant him access to it? Even though he was dying, real Joker sat around NOT using the miracle pit. I mean, why not use the pit and THEN face Batman? He sacrificed his entire plan in exchange for this thing, and now he’s putting off using it?
I’m not saying everyone will get stuck on the same points as I did, but I’m willing to bet most people went through the scene with a vague sense that something was off.
Batman beats Clayface and recovers the cure. You might remember that at the start of the Joker plot, Batman was fine with the idea of dying along with the Joker. It wasn’t until he found out that Joker had poisoned Gotham that he was motivated to seek this cure. He then spent most of the game fighting to obtain it. Aside from the little detour up the tower to stop Protocol 10, he’s spent the entire night fighting every supervillain in Arkham City to obtain this cure. A few hours ago Robin phoned him up and let him know that many innocent people are in Gotham’s hospitals, dying of Joker toxin. The first of them will begin dying by morning. Finally, after an entire night of fighting, Batman is holding the means to save Gotham.
Batman pops the top off and drinks half of it.
Hey asshole, what about those 2,000 innocent civilians? Is this something you’re even supposed to drink? Maybe this is an intravenous drug? Do you even need that much? Considering the fact that you’re still in pretty good shape, shouldn’t you get this to the hospital and see what can be done with it and how many people can be saved? Hey, I think Ra’s Al Ghul is still stuck on the top of the Arkham sign. Maybe you could go out and get a little more of that magic blood to make more cure? Isn’t it worth TRYING to save some of those 2,000 people? Isn’t SAVING EVERYONE the entire core of your character, which we just reinforced at the end of the last chapter when you tried to save two different super villains? And now you’re going to dismiss all those innocent people, who originally were the only reason you began this stupid quest to begin with?
Just after Catwoman freed him, Batman had that big moment where he wanted to let Protocol 10 run wild so he could save his girlfriend. Alfred even said to him, “Batman must save Gotham!” So that was Batman’s big turning point, when he put aside his own needs to “save Gotham”. But here he is, NOT saving Gotham again. Batman is known for extreme focus, foresight, and placing the safety and survival of innocents above his own life. These are core tenets of the character. It’s a little iffy to have a character arc where he seems to compromise on themSure, you CAN do it. But it needs to be rare and it needs to be for a really good reason. If the hero compromises on their core beliefs too often, they will simply stop being their core beliefs., but it’s flat-out wrong to have a story where he compromises his beliefs, repents, and then later compromises on an even larger scale without the story taking any notice at all.
Joker crawls down through the hole, trying to reach the Lazarus pit. Batman takes Talia’s sword and throws it at an electrical transformer in the wreckage, which causes a bunch of electrical shit to fall down into the pit and explode.
Yeah. I guess he knew those four tons of electrical wreckage were one good sword-bonk away from falling. Whatever, man.
Batman wakes up after the explosion…
Times Batman has been knocked unconscious so far this evening: 6
…and looks at the vial of cure. It’s technically still half-empty, but the animators have bungled this cutscene so that in this shot it looks like the vial is totally empty. This is yet another layer of confusion in a scene that really doesn’t need more.
Joker is out of time. Choking out his last breaths, he demands the cure. Batman looks down at the half-empty vial, pondering whether or not to give it to him.
“Every decision you’ve ever made ends with death and misery. People die. I stop you. You’ll just break out and do it again.”
Hey dumbass. What about the civilians? Whether you choose to save him or not, shouldn’t he AT LEAST have to get in line behind everyone else at the hospital? Your mandate is to “save EVERYONE, including supervillains”. Not “everyone, ESPECIALLY supervillains”. Ass.
While Batman is staring at the vial, Joker backstabs him and he drops the vial on the ground. It shatters.
You’re not the hero Gotham deserves. You’re the hero Gotham has to settle for. Loser.
Yes, Joker’s dialog is brilliant all through this scene. But that doesn’t change the fact that this entire sequence is a disaster that confuses the audience, muddles Batman’s values, and ends with more cutscene incompetence.
Anyway, Joker dies. We’ll wrap this series up next week.
 I imagine Hugo Strange had a hard time justifying the cost of his ten-meter outdoor flatscreen TV in the Arkham City Budget.
 Sure, you CAN do it. But it needs to be rare and it needs to be for a really good reason. If the hero compromises on their core beliefs too often, they will simply stop being their core beliefs.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
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