Batman Arkham Knight Story DLC: A Matter of Family. Proposal
I know that most of the details of this story DLC have leaked anyway and my idea for the Batgirl Story DLC isn’t really that radically different from what other members of the forum have had before as it basically takes many influences from ‘The Killing Joke’. To start it will be about an hour/ hour and thirty minutes in length, similar to previous Arkham story DLC’s ‘Harley Quinn’s Revenge’ and ‘Cold, Cold Heart’.
After an ambush, a handful of GCPD’s finest have gone missing, including commissioner James Gordon. The GCPD is left in shambles dealing with crime in Gotham City with their leader missing and the mysterious Batman is not around, leaving other members of the Bat family in charge, to them they know that Bruce Wayne is currently taking care of business in Metropolis, leaving Batgirl and Robin in charge. The disappearance of her father strikes an emotion chord with Barbara, but she investigates leads other detectives missed and soon finds herself investigating a seemingly abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Gotham. Robin is still in Gotham, taking care of as much as he can on his own. At the crime scene there was no obvious trademark of one of the rogues gallery and it doesn’t take the world’s greatest detective to figure out that a ‘super-criminal’ may be hiding in an abandoned amusement park but nowadays it could be anybody like Mad Hatter or Rag Doll and not just the Joker, but she won’t knows until she investigates further.
One of the best aspects I feel about the Arkham franchise is that it engages a wide range of people and not all of those are even familiar with the comics and for them this is there first exposure to many of the great Batman stories that the game references, and it may encourage those people to get their hands on the source material and read it for themselves.
I’m mentioning this because as I said before the DLC takes elements from ‘The Killing Joke’ but my personal twist is that this is a prequel to that story and the DLC ends where that story begins, more or less.
For the Joker himself, behind the scenes, this is the night he had planned for years, this was the night he wanted to prove to his rival his theory that all it takes is “one bad day” to turn a man into a monster, the park was the chess board and the kidnapped officers were the pawns to simply prove a point. Of course the Joker is unaware that Batman is away and is very disappointment when he realises that Batgirl has turned up instead.
The story begins with Batgirl gliding over the crashing waves, and using the high winds to maneuver and avoid being swept up by the sea, in the distance she can see the dark silhouette of the amusement park, there is no sign of life. We hear her inner monologue “The trail leads here…” and as she lands the whole park comes to life, lights come on, the rides start moving and the garish carnival music starts as the horrible soundtrack for tonight and a huge monitor overhead shows the Joker making his presence known.
“Finally you’ve arrived, for a second there I thought you’d never c - - wait, you’re not him, sure you’ve got the pointy ears but with those curves you can’t fool me, heh…you really are ruining my big night, but I’ll get the main man’s full attention next time. I’m not one to miss what is a rare opportunity to off on the Bat’s groupies. Let’s have a little fun. Instead of what I had planned why don’t we play a game of save the helpless police officers, it’s a little twee, like Eddie, but this is awfully short notice.”
Like in previous games when you’re gliding around you hear the main villain giving speeches over the load speakers, this is no exception, here are just a few lines I had off the top of my head and just imagine Mark Hammils voice speaking them…
“Batman and Batgirl I get, why Robin? It’s just occurred to me in nature that I have never seen a bat and a robin working together…”
“…Then again, who am I to talk, when in human history are bats and clowns natural enemies, even I scratch my head at that one, but it just feels so right, don’t you think?”
“What’s next Bat-person, that would be very PC…Wait I’ve just got it…Bat-dog! A Bat-man’s best friend, could you imagine the poor animal walking around with that ridiculous mask on, even I think that’s a little too much.”
“I could go on all day questioning why you’re boss has the compulsion to put ‘Bat’ in front of everything, but that’s really subject for a another day.”
“How about a joke…ahem…there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum—no, no, I feel it would be wasted on you cretins, it needs someone who has a similar sense of humour.”
“Some may say this amusement park is a little too much, I say it’s a little too less. You wouldn’t believe the bargain I got from the dealer I wasn’t the only one grinning from ear to ear…”
“One of these days I’m going to do some surveying and find out exactly how many abandoned amusement parks, chemical plants, television studios, aquariums, botanical gardens, toy factories exist in this town, it’s rather convenient don’t you think? “
The backdrop to the story is a completely new and original location, but it’s the only place you can explore; it’s a small man-made island that exists a mile or two off shore like an oil rig but it’s an amusement park, like Coney Island (except it’s really an island) This is the Arkhamverse version of the amusement part from ‘The Killing Joke’ that has everything you can imagine a fairground would have; a ferris wheel, rollercoasters, a helter-skelter, a freak show, a ghost train, house of fun complete with a hall of mirrors etc. and the whole place has a wonderful vivid colour scheme, like John Higgins’ original colours. Also because of the stormy seas and high winds Batgirl can’t go back, in true Arkham fashion, if you glide off the island you’ll do a complete 180 degree turn, complete with a statement like “I can’t leave now, Joker will kill those police officers”
One of the worst possible outcomes has come true, but Barbara has since learnt to not let her negative thoughts distract her and understands her priorities are;
1) Establish contact with Alfred at the Batcave, let him and the others know of her situation and to scramble police to come and help.
2) Locate and free all of the hostages.
3) Locate and apprehend the Joker.
Batgirl discovers that her communication system isn’t working, it could be bad interference for being so far away, she decides the best thing to do is to reach the highest point of the amusement park, the ferris wheel, so that she can try and contact Alfred from there and get a better survey of the area. Unfortunately when she gets to the highest point she has no luck. Joker must be using signal jammers (A quick note for consistency this only effects in and out going communication, not hacking); she can’t get a signal that must mean her own tracking device in her belt won’t work either. She produces a personal miniature satellite dish from her belt that will help boost her communication signal once she has neutralised all the jammers. So now that’s…
1) Disable all the signal jammers then establish contact with Alfred at the Batcave, let him and the others know of her situation and to scramble police to come and help.
It might be possible that Joker made the effort to set up the jammers, the hostages may be nearby them, it’s such a small island it’s worth a try, and so Batgirl calibrate her cowl to locate where the disruption is strongest, like in Arkham City.
Over the course of the games you’ll find many easter eggs and other references in the true Arkham style, many from ‘The Killing Joke’ naturally and others too, here are a few but it would be almost impossible to list them all; like the deceased amusement park salesman with a rictus grin sat on the pink rocking elephant, the Joker’s colourful baby throne that’s still under construction, the cage that Batman later finds Jim Gordon stripped naked and thrown into, a Coney island style poster that was used as one of the inspirations for the creation of the Joker, an old poster for the freak show showcasing the hideous crocodile boy. There are so many, I bet the people on the forums can think up more brilliant references.
Another Idea I had for the game that is slightly separate from the main story is a look into the Joker’s origins. I know over the course of the games it’s been mentioned and we’ve seen inside the Joker’s mind as he tells us about human nature and the concept of fate, but it’s a subject that could be elaborated on a little more, I’m sure some may disagree with me and we all know the whole ‘there’s no set origin story/ multiple choice’ rule about the Joker, but like a comic book, every game may be someone’s first and since we may not get a proper retelling of ‘The Killing Joke’ this may be our only chance to do the type of storytelling the graphic novel did so well. My idea is slightly inspired by the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ series in that throughout the game you’ll find certain ‘Joker totems’, object that are relevant to him and a possible origin; for example you may find a ‘See The Fat Lady’ poster, or a bowl of uneaten shrimp on a bench, or a bleached red hood and matching cape. The player will be prompted to scan them and then we cut to a flashback of Joker’s origin from the story, from a first person perspective, everything from a bad stand-up routine, to crying to his wife, losing her and taking that fateful dip at Ace Chemicals when confronted by the mysterious ‘Bat-man’. These sort of fill the role of Riddler’s riddles and the interview tapes we’re so used to having in the games, of course Batgirl can’t see these, they’re for the players benefit only and when we watch them they have a distorted ‘VCR’ quality to them, there could be inconsistencies with the narrative that makes the audience question the validity of the story unfolding. We would probably have other collectables to destroy like Joker balloons or Joker teeth that don’t really add to the game but helps the completionists get that extra trophy/achievement.
The game is broken down into traditional combat and stealth sections, the over world map may have a couple of enemies scattered that required a few punches to take down but certain key locations that Batgirl peruses on the map like the rollercoaster entrance or the freak show will lead to a police officer who will be in danger like tied onto the rollercoaster track and you have three minutes to save him or locked inside a cage and once the room is secure and them you disable the nearby jammer that’s sometimes hidden behind a wall, in a huge present, and this process is repeated about five times for example (If there are five missing officers not including Commissioner Gordon) when you free a hostage is when you get a short piece of dialogue between the officer and Batgirl.
Enemy types will be the usual Joker thugs, heavy hitters, armoured thugs with their own guns, knives, bats, shields etc. It would be quite humourous if some of the enemies included were some of the people from the freak show, including those weird dwarf cherubs we see in the graphic novel too and they wield electric cattle prods.
Batgirl is just as good as any other playable characters in the games, she can punch, kick, stun and vault, moving from enemy to enemy with such a energy and delicate grace that you would expects a gymnast to have, she can move faster in fights and when running, something that you can visible see in the animations. She can takedown and maneuver around environments just as well as anyone else whereas Batman and Robin use more strength in the movement and actions she moves like you expect a ninja would but when it comes to that knockout smash she can certainly dish it out, as well as take it with a hefty life bar because Barbara Gordon is no pushover. I always imagined Batgirls arsenal to be quite simple as she is a confident character, she’ll get mandatory gadgets like batarangs and a grapple gun (which has the same actions as Batman and Nightwing, instead of Robin) I think what would be cool would be to have a flash bang instead of smoke pellets, just a simple model swap, when Batgirl utilizes it when she’s in the line of fire, the animations will have her turn her head and close her eyes while thugs can’t see it gives her enough time to get away.
There will also be explosive gel and I would like more emphasis to be on using a hacking device that functions like the one in Arkham Knight, as the audience sees her a someone who is very tech savvy. It unlocks doors, can remotely create diversion to distract enemies such as a spinning tea cups or animatronics and when she finds the individual signal jammers a different puzzle could be used to disable the machine, like a simple “plumber’ style minigame.
In the process of saving the individual hostages and disabling all the signal jammers in the amusement park you’ll learn through dialogue with the rescued police officers that there is one remaining officer, they saw him being dragged off to the ghost train, but they don’t know where the commissioner is being held. Now Batgirl can contact Alfred.
“Alfred, I’ve located the missing police officers, they’re being held hostage in the amusement park island, Joker’s the one behind this”
“Oh, my, he’s far too dangerous, I’ll contact Master Bruce and - - “
“No. By the time he returns it may be too late, he still has commissioner Gordon. I need you to let Robin know where I am so he can contact the GCPD to come and collect the missing officers and criminals, by the time they arrive Joker will be dealt with”
“As you wish…please be careful.”
Batgirl investigating the entrance of the ghost train but it’s locked from the inside, so Batgirls finding an alternative route through the roof.
This piece of writing in the next paragraph is taken from the Arkham Knight Database when you unlock it after solving a riddle. So I decided to weave it to my narrative and it essentially help shape my own interpretation on the story DLC. I imagine it playing purely as a cutscene, similar to the Joker reveal at the Gotham Merchants Bank in Arkham Origins, in that Batgirl drops down, perhaps from a ventilation shaft or an exploding ceiling.
Three thugs. One hostage. Easy.
First, the guy with the gun.
Barbara dropped behind the nearest of Joker’s goons, crouched and launched herself back up. One escrima stick in the back of the knee to drop him. The other met the back of his skull on the way down. (I personally would drop the line with the escrima stick because it alludes to a Robin, which would most likely Dick Grayson or Jason Todd, but my story is a Batgirl solo story as we get to see her in her prime.)
Next, the guy with the knife.
He’d had a knife, anyway. He had a broken wrist now. A wrist she caught between both her sticks and snapped when he lunged at her. She let the arm drop and swung her weapons back an over her shoulders, onto his head. The sad clown make-up looked perfect as he fell to the floor.
And now the mop up.
She dropped and swung a sweeping kick to meet the last thug as he charged her, sending him barreling into a wall.
The hostage was crying, curled fetal with his back to her from the corner of the room. Odd, for a police officer in Gotham. They’ve usually seen worse.
“It’s OK”, Barbara took a step towards him. “It’s me. Batgirl.”
The sobbing got worse. Louder. Hysterical. And then Barbara froze. He wasn’t crying at all.
“What’s wrong?” the officer crooned. “Aren’t you going to rescue me?”
“Not exactly.” Barbara’s eyes scanned for exits. Her feet took a fighting stance.
“Well then”, said Joker, twisting round to face her until he was lounging, in a bloodstained police officer’s uniform, on his side. “Why don’t you rescue Commissioner Gordon instead…?”
Batgirl is a little shaken, but it’s clear that Joker has killed one the hostages to simply play a trick, she can see a bloodied hand sticking out of one of the ghost train carriages behind him. The Joker produces a pistol from his jacket and begins to shoot, narrowly missing Batgirl, she can hear more machine gun toting thugs coming through the main entrance, she knows that Joker is too dangerous to take on, he has the home advantage, she needs to run and gather her thoughts. She throws a batarang at the ghost train control panel, bring the whole ride to life, she lunges into one of the moving carriages as the it moves off, the sound of bullets embedding themselves into the side of it and laughter echoing as it enters the dark tunnel. She leaves the cart and locates the maintenance exit, bringing her back outside; the ferris wheel is in the players field of vision. The sound of the carnival music and Joker on the speakers can he heard.
“Anyone out there who hasn’t hand their limbs broken, teeth knocked out and…basically if you’re conscious right now, get your ass to the ferris wheel and do the job I pay you to do, don’t let Batgirl reach the commissioner. You know, I’m not sure I even pay you at all…heh”
When you reach the ferris wheel, it’s clear it’s under heavy maintenance and repair, there’s scaffolding everywhere, it’s like a mini construction site swarming with thugs, for a second the first person camera locates commissioner Gordon, he’s chained up, right in the middle of the wheel, unconscious. What proceeds next is a large stealth section that really tests the player, using all the tricks they know. After the room is clear Barbara can save her Dad. Once the final thug has been taken down the camera pans to the Joker, inside the ferris wheel carriage that’s at the very top.
“Well done, you deserve a prize! But not the commissioner, you’ve got to win more tickets to get him! Hahaha!” and he pushes a trigger that he’s holding in his hand. We can see dynamite that’s taped to the foundations of the entire scaffolding, with a huge ‘BOOM!’ everything collapses in a huge billow of smoke and dust.
A bit later we see Joker idly walking through the debris looking for a pointy ear corpse, a knife in hand ready to finish the job if necessary. He finds nothing and suddenly out of nowhere a yellow boot kicks him in the back, making Joker turn around, there’s Batgirl, he mask and outfit damaged, and her flesh that’s shown is bloodied and bruised, like at the end of every Arkham story, she’s hurt, but not beaten. (I thought it would be funny not to adequately explain how she survived the explosion, like in Endgame) Joker is not happy at all.
“NO, NO, NO! You’re spoiling my big night, you’ve ruined everything, I needed Batman, you would never understand what tonight was supposed to be! And for that I’ll deliver you’re bat-corpse to him personally, heh!
“Shut up and fight.”
What happens next is a hand-to-hand boss fight with the Joker, the fallen debris has made a make-shift arena that you can’t leave. I imaged the fight being similar to the Deathstroke fight from Batman: Arkham Origins, Joker has a counter for almost everything, he can dodge batarangs, and has many defensive moves that the player must dodge like squiring acid from his flower, throwing razor sharp playing cards and firing from his six-chamber revolver, when he’s left reloading is when the player can stun he with Batgirl’s cape and the beatdown animation begins, where you kick Joker to he ground and Batgirl kneels on top of him and gives him a barrage of punches, then Joker will kick you off and the process is repeated until his life bar is empty.
Then a cutscene where Batgirl delivers a finishing punch that sends Joker crashing to the ground on his stomach, as Batgirl approaches to apprehend him he spins around with the revolver in his hand.
“I still have one bullet left”
And with that a bang flag comes out of it. Barbara is relived, but the Joker gives on of his trademark insane fits of laughter. Suddenly a bright light and the sound of helicopters overhead as GCDP SWAT officer comes repelling down machine guns in hand. “This is the Gotham City Police Department, you are under arrest, but you hands behind you’re head and…” the announcement goes on as the thugs are being handcuffed and the rescued officers are taken to safety and commissioner Gordon is cut down and evacuated too. Robin also came along with the police in one of the helicopters.
Batgirl and Robin are personally escorting the Joker, who is restrained, towards the GCPD prisoner transfer boat that’s at the pier entrance to the amusement park. (In my mind as I write this it’s Jason Todd, because of the connection they have in Arkham Knight, they’re working together here, and later he’s kidnapping her)
“Well done, he would be proud you know, though he may never say it out loud.”
As Joker is being loaded onto the boat he say’s,
“You know, I came about this from the wrong angle, I need a more emotional incentive to get the Bat to come out and play.” And with that he gives out one final evil laugh as to boat makes its way back to Gotham, with Batgirl and Robin and heavily armed units of SWAT, the camera pans up and we see the familiar backdrop of the city.
The screen goes to black and in white letter reads ‘Arkham Asylum – 24 Hours later”
Similar to the Mad Hatter introduction from Arkham City we are in the Joker’s POV as we see a pair of bleached white hands playing a game of solitaire on a table, the player has the ability to just move the camera in this scene as it plays out. There’s mumbling coming from outside and the sound of familiar footsteps and they he is, Batman, the light from outside bathes him and makes the rest of him look like a walking shadow.
“I heard about your latest stunt, Joker” He takes a seat opposite the player “I’ve been thinking lately about you and me. About what happens to us, in the end. We’re going to kill each other, aren’t we?”
The hands before you is still playing the card game, not saying anything.
“Perhaps you’ll kill me. Perhaps I’ll kill you. Perhaps sooner. Perhaps Later. I just wanted to know I’d made a genuine attempt to talk things over and avert that outcome. Just Once.”
We can see Batman becoming increasing frustrated at the lack of response. He quickly reaches out and grabs the player on one of your hands, but it’s quickly pulled away. Able to move the camera you can see the smeared clown complexion and the pink flesh underneath.
“Are you listening to me? It’s life and death that I’m discussing here. Maybe my death, maybe yours. I don’t fully understand why ours should be a fatal relationship, but I don’t want your murder on my…”
Batman looks at his palms “…hands…”
Batman moves as quick as a demon, and before you know it you’re quickly grabbed and held way above his head and treated to an interrogation, still from the same POV. You begin to speak, but it’s obviously not the Joker’s voice.
“Hey! Wait a minute! Don’t touch me! I got rights! You’re not allowed to…”
“WHERE IS HE?!”
The screen goes to black again.
Now we are still in a first person perspective but now in a new location, a really nice apartment building, you are limited in where you can go, but you can move freely down this corridor, with numerous doors along it, walking by the doors gives you a prompt to knock on it, a fist will rise, but decline as you’ve chosen the wrong door, if this happens the camera will look down at your other arm which in holding a package with a tag “Barbara Gordon, apartment 89, love, J x x x”. Since there aren’t that many doors and you’ll eventually knock on the right one. You can hear a muffled voice and footsteps making their way to the door. “Colleen, is that you again?” You see Barbara answer the door, her faces realises who you are and in a panic runs way into the apartment.
“Candy-gram”, Joker says as he produces a pistol and in a similar sequence to the introduction to Arkham Knight, we are given control of the pistol in Joker’s hand, everything goes in slow motion, given the player more time to line the shot, and after successfully completing this segment we see Barbara Gordon crash into her glass coffee table, landing on her back. The player still has the ability to move, so the player walks towards her.
“Oh, don’t pass out just yet!” A camera is placed in front of the player and we can see through the lense, control has been taken from the player, as this is the end of the story. The camera pulls right in on her face, in pain and anguish.
“Come on, show a little spine!”
And the screen goes to black and we are given the credits.
Thank you very much for reading my proposal for the upcoming Arkham Knight DLC, “A Matter of family”, it’s funny that since I started writing this, more details of the story were coming out and the idea of the story taking place on a man-made island was a complete coincidence as I wanted go give the feeling of complete isolation, it was heavily inspired by ‘Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero’. My ideas are not that exciting but I wanted it to be in the limits of the game itself, so I didn’t make it too bombastic and include load of villains, but instead as a prequel to a great story and an introduction to players who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet. Again thanks for reading and I can’t wait to play it.