Batman's next video game may depict his first meeting with the Joker ... in the 1950s.
Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum and Arkham City proved once again that superhero properties can become successful videogame franchises, but as self-contained titles they left very little room for future development. Knowing that Mark Hamill would retire his Joker character with Arkham City, Rocksteady gave us a definitive ending to the story that made direct sequels a difficult prospect, if not a complete impossibility. However, an unconfirmed story published by Variety this morning suggests that Rocksteady may not be quite ready to step away from the Batman franchise. If true, the next Rocksteady Batman may take the form of a highly stylized Arkham prequel that drops the gritty tone of the original games in favor of the colorful 1950s Silver Age.
The Silver Age of Comics refers to a period from approximately 1950 to 1970 when the Comics Code Authority forced publishers to regulate their content exclusively for young audiences. Although controversial, the code facilitated some of the industry's most memorable depictions of characters like Batman and Joker, and would even inspire Adam West's live-action Batman series.
As with any rumor, the story should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment didn't give any hint of a new Batman game at this year's E3, focusing instead on the upcoming fighting game Injustice. That said, Rocksteady has already shown itself to be successful when it comes to designing experimental Batman games, and it may even fit with a long-term plan of Warner Bros to remarket their Justice League characters for an upcoming movie.
If true, Rocksteady's prequel would focus on the first meeting between Batman and Joker against the backdrop of the DC Comic's Silver Age, referring to publications primarily from the 1950s and 60s. Variety writer Marc Graser notes that this is the period in which Batman also joined the Justice League which, just like Lego Batman 2, would play to Warner Bros.' theme of reintroducing gamers to popular Justice League characters. Graser also claims that the game wouldn't be released until 2014, one year before the latest Justice League movie is planned for theaters.
We'll have to wait and see whether Warner Bros or Rocksteady comment on the story, but a 1950s take on Batman might actually be ideal for gamers and a refreshing take on the character. After all, Arkham City already used in-game visual effects to aid combat; would it be possible to replace those with Adam West styled graphics instead?
BAM! POW! SWOOSH!