Hey everybody, If you like Batman and video games it's highly likely you've heard of this much-anticipated final installment in Rocksteady Games' phenomenal Batman Arkham series. The recent news of this being the first Mature-rated Batman video game, definitely piqued my interest due to the fact that an adult-oriented rating would likely allow for an even more compelling story due to the loosening of creative restraints. Now, after yet another release date extension to June 23rd of this year, I just couldn't contain my excitement anymore and had to talk about this game and I thought I'd give you guys a place to discuss your theories and speculation as well.
Who is the Arkham Knight?
For those few Batfans who are unaware, the Arkham Knight is the title character in the last of Rocksteady Games' Arkham trilogy. The Knight is said to be an entirely "original character" of Rocksteady's own creation who will be working with [Batman: Arkham Knight](tag:2683936)'s "main antagonist," classic Batman villain Dr. Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. Scarecrow. The Knight is said to have been training soldiers somewhere in the region of Venezuela prior to the events of Arkham Knight which has been confirmed to be taking place 1 year after the conclusion of Arkham City.
Now, the reason I've placed "original character" and "Scarecrow being the main antagonist" in quotes is that, while it would be incredibly interesting for Rocksteady to create an entirely new villain, a villain who chooses to base his entire persona off of Batman and has to be called off by some mysterious voice from killing Batman because his "Time for vengeance will come," strongly suggests that his character has well-defined ties to Batman in blood or bond. This would be far more effectively portrayed through a character who had already been introduced in one of the first two Arkham games (Arkham Asylum or City).
That along with the fact that he is the title character of the entire game suggests that he is going to be more than a secondary antagonist. I would assume the unmasking of the Knight would be pre-ceded by his reveal that he had actually hired Scarecrow and that he was just a pawn in his master scheme, or a similar monologue, would certainly make me assume that the A.K. will most likely not only be a pre-existing character in the Batman Universe, but in the Arkhamverse as well, simply taking on a new identity as the Arkham Knight.
Hero/Anti-Hero Line Up: The Batfam
There is no doubt that going with either a living member of Bruce Wayne's family, a friend, girlfriend, or someone he's trained would be the most effective route to go to create a direct emotional connection with the character and a feasible reason for them to resent Bruce. However, there are simply so many characters in that category I thought I would just throw them all in one category and discuss the ones which I have the most knowledge about and those which are already established in the Arkhamverse.
Suspect 1. Thomas Wayne, Jr. a.k.a. Lincoln March
(SPOILERS for the Night of the Owls and City of Owls New 52 story arcs) One of the most interesting new characters and Batman villains in general to come out of the soon-to-end New 52 is Lincoln March also known as Thomas Wayne, Jr. Thomas is Bruce's long lost brother who was sent to a mental institution for children by Bruce's parents after the Waynes suffered a car crash at the corner of Lincoln and March on account of the Court of Owls. Unfortunately when Bruce and Thomas's parents were killed, Thomas was forgotten and alone at the mental institution which rotted to the point of collapse killing many of the children trapped inside. It is revealed that Thomas was adopted by the Court of Owls and trained as the leader of their Talon assassins, using his super serum and resentment of Bruce's happy life to (mostly) overcome his insanity.
It is also revealed during this story arc that Dick Grayson was also set to become a Talon like his great grandfather before him (END OF SPOILERS). This gives Rocksteady the option to choose between two prominent characters with strong emotional ties to Batman involved in the Court of Owls which is a pre-established entity in the Arkhamverse, an enormous monument to which is prominently featured in a major cutscene in Batman: Arkham Origins, seen below.
In the comics, the Court of Owls is an age old secret society which is built beneath Gotham and within the walls of every wealthy establishment in the city, including Wayne tower, which is prominently featured in the Arkham Knight trailers. The Court's involvement in the game appears to be further supported by what could just be your run of the mill ninjas or LoA (League of Assassins) members in the Arkham Knight: Ace Chemicals Infiltration video, but they certainly do look unbelievably similar to Talon super soldiers, depicted below.
The use of the Court of Owls as the game's orchestrators of chaos would allow Rocksteady to introduce a great and relatively unknown force to gamers and film fans who may not be caught up on comics, for the first time ever in a video game. The Court not only challenges the Knight physically with the use of their army of potential Venom/Titan-enhanced super soldiers, but mentally through the use of their mind-bending maze which drove Batman nearly to the point of insanity and would also make a great Scarecrow set-piece.
Suspect 2. Damian Wayne
The use of the Court would also conveniently coincide with the upcoming animated film, Batman vs. Robin (no Bat nipples included) which is being released next month. The premise of that film involves Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul's son clashing with the dark knight after leaving the Batfam to become a Talon in the Court's first feature-length appearance. Damian, while hinted at as being semi-recently conceived in Arkham City, may have been able to develop into adulthood, or at the very least fighting shape thanks to the potential use of either the Talon super serum or the Lazarus pit as was done in the comics. It could be said that with Talia and R'as missing after being stabbed, that they did the same for themselves and have now transformed the Bat's son into the ultimate killing machine, the Arkham Knight, in order to take their vengeance against the Bats and Gotham for their humiliation/temporary defeat at the hands of the crusader.
As I'm sure most of you know, Batman has a list of enemies almost as long as his bank statement, so I'm just going to go into the two which I believe are most likely to be the men behind the mask.
Suspect 3. Azrael/Azbat
Azrael was one of the more interesting characters prominently featured in the side missions of Arkham City, specifically the Watcher in the Wings side mission, in which you have to track down Azrael at different points all over the city. At the end of these missions Azrael conveys quite a foreboding prophecy which essentially states that the Dark Knight will fall and Gotham will burn. Azrael was already a playable DLC character in Arkham city in his Azbat suit, which he famously dawned after the breaking of Batman's back by Bane in the Knightfall comic arch which inspired the Dark Knight Rises. To say that the Azbat had mixed results with his crime fighting would be an understatement as he essentially went insane and murdered a multitude of people. Azrael is supposedly the last or one of the last remaining members of the Order of Saint Dumas after he murdered them all but it's not clearly established whether or not he has done that yet in the Arkhamverse so it could very well be possible that he is leading the Order against Gotham as they once did during the Crusades as members of the Knights Templar, before they disbanded.
Suspect 4. Bane
I know what everyone is thinking, Bane probably couldn't fit half a bicep in the Arkham Knight suit after he basically turned into the muscular version of the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka in the previous Arkham games due to the fact that his blood is practically 100% super steroid after the constant juicing in the previous games. However, even though Bane's strength was dwindling as he began to cut back on his juicing, a dunk in the Lazarus pit never hurt anyone in the DC universe, (aside from Red Hood, I suppose) and as could be seen in a few episodes of Batman Beyond, he is perfectly capable of losing mass as he is practically decrepit after he entirely expels the serum from his body in that show.
Bane is one of Batman's greatest enemies, the only man to break the bat and while he has been in all of the previous games, none of them seemed to have done his mental formidability justice as he basically charges at you over and over with the maneuvering precision of a freight train and the tactical expertise of a very large lemming. Bane already has his own militia in the Arkhamverse and the area in which the Arkham Knight was training his army corresponds quite well to the location of the prison in which Bane originated in the comics. He has been a brick wall with legs for the past several games and I believe that if he were to be brought down to Batman's level physically, forcing one of Batman's most intelligent foes to use brain over brawn he could make a fantastic final villain in a game which very well seems to be building up to a Knightfall-esque conclusion.
Okay, now for the entirely hypothetical plot I believe may happen and could be pretty cool. In my version of the final installment of the acclaimed Arkham series Scarecrow, backed by the mysterious Court of Owls, is using his fear toxin to terrorize all of Gotham into submission so that the Owls can reclaim their city from the Bats. While he spreads the fear, the Arkham Knight, working for the League of Assassins is destroying Gotham in order to avenge the death/defeat of R'as. Through the power of good old fashioned detective work and a mean roundhouse, Batman discovers that the Court of Owls is being headed by his long lost brother, Thomas. They have an awesome, Firefly-esque flying battle similar to their comic fight, most likely involving Batman grappling his brother and being smashed through a skyscraper window as he struggles to climb his way up to the Talon for a brotherly noogie, Batman style. Eventually Batman hits Thomas so hard his jet pack malfunctions leading to a crash landing into Wayne manor in which he will fight his brother and his Talon minions, using his awesome Bat mech suit.
Batman's suit is on the verge of destruction but he has just about beaten his brother when the Arkham Knight's helicopter blows a gigantic hole in the ceiling of the Bat Cave, causing Batman to have to save his brother from the collapsing caverns. When Thomas comes to he looks at the wreckage of his parent's home and decides that the A.K. has gone too far, he only wanted to use Dr. Crane's fear gas to force the city into submission, not destroy it, after all. So the brothers team up to have an epic final showdown with Bruce and the Bat family and Thomas with the Talons against the Arkham Knight, his army, and the League of Assassins. It's an all out war in the fight to the top of Wayne tower which the A.K. and his followers have taken over thanks to his associate Hush, who has been using his Bruce Wayne guise from Arkham City to great effect. After tons of ninja-on-ninja action the brothers and the rest of the Bat family finally confront the Arkham Knight.
After a long first round of the Knight flying around and using all of his advanced technology and cunning, Batman finally knocks the Knight's helmet off and he doesn't even recognize the face, the unforgettable accent makes the connection very clear however as it was actually Bane under the mask the entire time. He tells Batman that the League paid him for the job but he would have gladly done it for free, he then hulks out on Titan to the point that he is essentially a small mountain, or perhaps a hill, breaks Batman's back and kills him.
Thomas, devastated by the loss of his brother whom he was just finally becoming attached to, absolutely flips out on Bane. The unfortunate Bane in his roid rage outgrew and broke out of the Arkham Knight suit, but not his purple pants as comic book common courtesy dictates, and the head Talon annihilates the muscle-bound monster with a missile barrage. After the death of and vengeance for his brother, Thomas has a change of heart and takes up the mantle as an entirely new rendition of Batman, resigning from the Court of Owls to take Bruce's son and other pupils under his wing.
Well, I feel like I've geeked out enough for one day everybody so I really hope you guys enjoyed, make sure to leave your theories and speculation down in the comments so we can all quell the anticipation for just a little while longer, I'd love to hear them, have a Battacular day and stay fly, movie pilots!