At the Warner Bros. Games facility in Montreal, a 7-foot-tall statue of Batman welcomes guests at the front desk. Every shelf in the space between each desk is loaded with comics. The coffee maker proudly displays the bat symbol rather than pictures of lattes and flat whites. You might be shocked to find that Batman was murdered by those who work here.
Their death provided the creators behind the upcoming computer game Gotham Knights with the answer to a crucial dilemma: how to reinvent a character who has been locking up the Joker for 83 years? You would be correct in assuming that Batman has been done to death. Here, speaking.
At the scene of the crime, creative director Patrick Redding informs me, “Yes, he’s dead. He continues, “Like, dead, dead.” In this brand-new cooperative game, players must solve the mystery behind Batman’s cause of death. Instead of just one Dark Knight, Gotham now has a team of four: Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin.
They must take the lead in defending the city from supervillains, organized crime, and miscellaneous criminals. You can control and swap between the four as you like, exploring the open-five world’s boroughs on your Batcycle or swinging through the streets of the city with a grappling hook to complete quests. You fight crime at night and gather leads while leveling up and customizing characters in your belfry HQ during the day.
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The most recent Batman video game, the Arkham series, in which players controlled the cape crusader, was a huge worldwide hit, selling more than 30 million copies and receiving a tonne of positive press. It makes sense to compare the two, especially because they were both made in part by the same company, yet Gotham Knights play very differently. Even while you can play it all by yourself while rotating between the characters, you can also play it with others online.
Redding describes the team’s Joker-like move to oust the Dark Knight as “sometimes you confront a problem, realize the solution is to pull one crucial element out and it flips the script on the whole thing.” “Gotham City is still Gotham City, but Batman is no longer there to keep it in control. What happens next? Who steps into that void? It opens doors as soon as you start asking that inquiry.
Surprisingly, DC Comics didn’t put up much of a fight. Nobody wants you to kill Batman, but they were unexpectedly receptive to the notion, according to Fleur Marty, executive producer of the game.
Of all, adapting well-known characters in new ways is nothing new, especially in the comic book industry. As the person who redesigned Marvel’s franchises 20 years ago, one of the most successful comic book authors, Mark Millar, has tackled it numerous times and has mastered the art of bringing new life to characters who are ninety years old.
He sold his business, Millarworld, to the huge firm in 2017, and is now a senior studio executive at Netflix. Millarworld was the publisher of numerous titles, including Wanted and Kick-Ass. From The Avengers to Logan, his writings served as the primary source of inspiration for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In his view, killing off the most adored heroes in the world is not only acceptable but also fantastic.
“It’s great to kill off beloved characters. The drama will die if you kill off characters you don’t care about, he claims. The best illustration of this is Game of Thrones. At Marvel, there used to be an editorial rule that said we shouldn’t kill off characters since everyone has a favorite. I completely disagree. Consider the Red Wedding, where everyone simply ate a delicious dinner and went to bed.
Without Bruce Wayne taking on villains, Gotham Knights maintain its place in the Batman universe you are familiar with thanks to the villains, other DC heroes, and the residents of this vibrant, interactive metropolis. This is notably true of its antagonists, Harley Quinn in particular, who, while not entirely repented, is revealed to have collaborated with Batman before his death.
I carry out her task while in prison, battling criminals, assassinating guards covertly, and looking for hints. It’s appropriately absurd, with a crazy jailyard fight at the end set to a pop punk cover of Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin. It would go in well with a Suicide Squad film.
The creators specifically credit the 2012 Court of Owls Batman comic run as being the inspiration for their plot. Lineage and family are topics that are also explored in the story of this game, which has a found family of four heroes and narrates the tale of Gotham’s hidden society and criminal organization.
Whether in print or on PlayStation, different creators frequently give well-known characters their spins. It is a component of graphic novel grammar. In that world of stories, you could consider us to be another self-contained standalone story, Marty explains.
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“We are fortunate to live in a period when comic book concepts and characters have truly permeated the entire mass market. We live in a world where everyone saw Into the Spider-Verse, so they don’t even object to it any longer,” adds Redding. “The consumer’s comfort level with the idea of different versions and characters has never been higher.
But is there no chance that Batman will prove to have avoided death in some way? Or maybe he’ll be brought back by his pals, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marty declares with certainty, “He’s dead; nobody believes it. So be it. 83 years isn’t a bad run, I suppose.
For October 21, Gotham Knights will be made available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.