Across DC Comics’ various continuities, Batman‘s world is packed with exciting mythology, with the Arkham video game series being one of the most intriguing for new fans. Between the main games developed by Rocksteady Studios and WB Games Montréal, the Batman: Arkham series is a clever amalgamation of lore from the comic book source material and the likes of Batman: The Animated Series.
However, the creative team was also sure to introduce interesting subversions of classic lore through original storytelling. From the games’ homage to the Animated Series to their spin on iconic events like The Killing Joke, the Arkham series has plenty of lore for newcomers to immerse themselves in.
10 The Seeds Of Arkham City Can Be Found In Arkham Asylum
Easter eggs and teases are nothing new in the superhero genre. Batman: Arkham Asylum was one of the best Xbox and PlayStation games of the ’00s, reinvigorating the hero’s reputation in gaming and suggesting how its scope would grow in future entries.
The corrupt Quincy Sharp began as the warden of the asylum, but the scale of his ambitions could be found in a hidden room on the island. If Batman sprays explosive gel on a specific section of the wall in the warden’s office, a secret room can be found to reveal that Sharp had already spent a great deal of time devising — and approving — plans for a city prison to be built in North Gotham.
9 Arkham Origins Adapts Mr. Freeze’s Animated Series Backstory
Mr. Freeze has been celebrated as one of Batman’s most compelling and tragic villains-turned-heroes. His character arc arguably earns him permanent redemption in the mainline Batman comics, but this engrossing backstory is thanks to Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s work on BTAS.
Fittingly since Dini was a writer on previous Arkham series, WB Games Montréal’s prequel Batman: Arkham Origins incorporates the villain’s beginnings from “Heart of Ice.” In-universe, this version of Batman’s first meeting with Mr. Freeze and the revelation of his backstory came in the Cold, Cold Heart DLC expansion that takes place mere days after the events of Arkham Origins‘ main plot.
8 Solomon Grundy Has Ties To Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit
Ra’s al Ghul is one of the Dark Knight’s most formidable and oldest foes in his rogues gallery. His defining trait is unnaturally prolonging his life by centuries using the Lazarus Pits. But Ra’s’ history in the Arkham universe has direct ties to Batman’s zombie-like villain Solomon Grundy.
An inventive spin on supervillain lore, it’s revealed through lore flavor textthat Ra’s arrived in what would become Gotham City in the late 19th century and discovered Grundy — formerly Cyrus Gold — and cruelly experimented on him to find out what made him come back from the dead. The purity of the chemicals found here inspired Ra’s’ machinations to build his ideal utopia over Gotham.
7 Bruce Wayne Trained With A League Of Assassins Trainer
In many continuities, Bruce Wayne was known to have trained extensively abroad for several years before returning to Gotham City. Arkham Origins shines a spotlight on this period of Bruce’s life through the Initiation DLC, where he travels to North Korea and trains with Grandmaster Kirigi.
This aspect of Batman’s mythos was influenced by Batman #431, with Initiation depicting a young Bruce discovering the monastery and having to prove himself as a student. A key part of that grueling training process was defeating none other than Lady Shiva in combat, one of DC Comics’ elite martial artists — and who would, years later, try to recruit Batman to the League of Assassins.
6 Jason’s Fate In A Death In The Family Was Given A Twist
The murder of Jason Todd by Joker’s hand in Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo’s A Death in the Family is one of the darkest events in Batman comics. Bruce himself acknowledges this to be one of his greatest failures, with it returning to haunt him in the Arkham universe as well.
As opposed to being killed in a remote warehouse after chasing his biological parents, Jason endured six months of torture at the mercy of the clown as part of a far more elaborate, sinister plot. Joker lets Batman believe he was murdered, but he was truly being held captive in a wing of Arkham Asylum to eventually be let loose against the hero.
5 The Events Of The Killing Joke Are Canon
Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke is one of the most acclaimed Joker stories in Batman comics. And with the Clown Prince of Crime playing such a prominent role in the Arkham games — in some form or another — it’s expected for the one-shot comic to be incorporated into this continuity.
The Killing Joke resulted in Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl, paralyzed from the waist down when the Joker brutally shot her, which sees her take on the role of Oracle throughout the video game series. Canonized into the Arkham universe, the comic’s events are particularly impactful in Arkham Knight, haunting Batman’s mind and preying on his guilt.
4 Hugo Strange Was Pulling The String For Arkham City Before Asylum
Dr. Hugo Strange is a formidable puppet master during the events of Arkham City. He’s one of Batman’s most compelling villains for how he challenges Batman as a psychological threat rather than physically.
The Arkham universe’s Hugo Strange is uncovered to have been pulling the strings to set up Arkham City since before the events of Asylum. This can be traced back to the villain’s warped obsession with Batman’s drive and state of mind, devising the city prison as a ploy to break the hero and “succeed” him. Strange’s plan was formally put into motion when he manipulated his patient — Arkham Asylum’s warden Quincy Sharp — into becoming his pawn.
3 The Joker’s Origins Are About As Murky As The Comics
Easily the Dark Knight’s most iconic villain, part of the Joker’s appeal has always been the element of mystery. That hasn’t changed in the Arkhamverse, with WB Games Montréal and Rocksteady combining elements from the mainline comics to give him a similar level of intrigue.
In Arkham Origins, the Clown Prince of Crime claims to have been a failed stand-up comedian who was strong-armed into becoming the Red Hood for the Falcone crime family. Aside from the interesting inclusion of the Falcones, this is a clear callback to The Killing Joke, but Hugo Strange claims this origin is a lie. According to the corrupt psychiatrist, it’s one of at least 10 alleged backstories he’s told.
2 Tim Drake Deduced Batman And Robin’s Identities
Tim Drake, both in the comics and in the Arkhamverse, became the third Boy Wonder. Much like Marv Wolfman, George Pérez, and Jim Aparo’s A Lonely Place of Dying, he partly convinced Batman to train him by deducing the original Dynamic Duo’s identities. Tim witnessed Dick Grayson’s parents being murdered at the circus, closely following Batman and Robin’s exploits afterward.
Following Jason’s fate, however, Bruce fell into a deep depression, but after Tim revealed his knowledge, he convinced the increasingly isolated Batman to train him. In some ways, Tim Drake was the linchpin that kept the Dark Knight alive, cementing the idea that the brooding hero will always need a Robin.
1 Batman Never Planned On Dick Grayson Becoming Robin
A common Batman misconception is that he’s mostly a “lone wolf,” but it didn’t take long before his Bat-Family grew. Dick Grayson became the first Robin around three years into Batman’s career, even if that wasn’t the original intention.
Grayson was part of a three-man family performance as the Flying Graysons at Haly’s Circus before mobster Tony Zucco ordered a hit on them in an extortion attempt. Bruce, hauntingly reminded of his childhood, adopted Grayson to give him a better life. Bruce initially keeps his persona secret, but Grayson eventually discovers his double life and convinces him to fight by his side.
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