Batman is at this point an institution. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the character has enjoyed 80 odd years of being a cultural icon. Batman has had multiple adaptations and iterations with many creators involved in shaping the character. Beginning with comic books, Batman has been seen on-screen multiple times, introducing different audiences to different iterations of the Batman.
Breaking a Formula
Characters sometimes have some wonderful creators work on them and do something special with them. For instance, Batman debuted with guns and was quite happy to kill off criminals or leave them for dead. All of that changed by Batman #4 when the famous no-kill rule was added. Breaking the mold for characters is how characters can eventually progress and, in many ways, become better.
In Batman’s case, for instance, writers and creators have consistently broken the formula to reinterpret the character for newer audiences. For instance, when Robin was introduced, the intention was to draw in younger readers, and thus, the concept of the sidekick was born. We’ve seen over the years how memorable sidekicks like Robin himself, Bucky Barnes, Kid Flash, Wong, and Falcon would all inherit the mantle of their senior partners at some point and go on to have interesting narratives.
The 60s had their own spin on the character with the 1966 version starring Adam West as a campy version of the Dark Knight in all that 60’s gloriousness. When Michael Keaton was cast as Tim Burton’s Batman, fans were outraged at the prospect of a short, skinny Batman as opposed to the muscular, macho versions they had seen in comics but Burton proved that that was not always necessary.
When Christian Bale suited up as Batman and Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, they faced the same backlash that fans had given Keaton and Nicholson who had proved them wrong by then. Bale and Ledger would go on to be part of an iconic trilogy helmed by an outstanding director, Christopher Nolan.
You might be wondering why we’re talking about Telltale games here. Telltale games are makers of some wonderful narrative-driven games of popular licensed properties. Some of their biggest hits include Life is Strange, Fables’ the Wolf Among Us, Guardians of The Galaxy, Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones, and many more.
One of their many successes was Batman: The Enemy Within, released in 5 episodes between 2017 and 2018. Unlike the Arkham Trilogy, the interesting aspect about the game is that it is evenly split between both Bruce Wayne and Batman, giving both sides of the character’s missions to accomplish. The game follows the character as you go through a series of missions, sequences, and storylines and you’re asked to make choices or decisions that you might face in critical moments.
What makes this game interesting is that while it does allow you to play both as Batman and Bruce Wayne, there is a focus more on Bruce Wayne, the man.
The game is rife with internal conflict making you, the player chooses decisions that will further alter the outcomes of the game. The story revolves around Wayne, giving Alfred the cold shoulder, losing his company and his resources, and the people he is close to. Bruce, as Batman faces off against the antagonist of the series, Lady Arkham and the children of Arkham, in a mystery that is tied to Bruce’s own father, Thomas Wayne.
The Fine Line
Throughout the game, the player is faced with a choice that can range from something simple to something downright brutal. There is a sequence when you’re given the option to brutalize local crime lord Carmine Falcone before handing the mobster over to the police. The game makes players understand the fine line that Batman does not cross. Choices that players make trigger scenarios and outcomes that may not always be good for Bruce Wayne or Batman. That thing that keeps him from crossing the line is compassion. The villains themselves are dark reflections of who Bruce Wayne could have become had he crossed that line. After all, what’s the point of protecting the innocent if you, the player, have lost your humanity?
Matt Reeves’ Batman
These arguments become interesting when looking at various Batman interpretations through the ages. Matt Reeves’ take on the character has audiences split between those who want a more buff batman, against those who are excited to see Robert Pattinson’s acting chops in his take on the Dark Knight.
The movie will draw heavily from the comic Batman: Ego, a story that sees Bruce Wayne and the aspect of the Batman in an internal struggle for dominance. The concept of the invisible line that Batman will not cross, is examined in this book as the two aspects decide to work together and shoulder the other’s burdens.
Reeves’ Batman is already breaking formulae with interesting interpretations of some beloved Batman characters like Commissioner Gordon and Catwoman. With an intriguing premise, this movie will finally see Batman as a detective in a noir thriller, a departure from the usual Batman iterations we’ve seen so far. Which is necessary to make a great Batman story.
Given that Reeves has only completed 25% of the film, we’re excited to see what he has in store for the fans. If the Telltale games told fans something, it was that thinking out of the box and breaking conventions is the way forward for a beloved character like the Dark Knight.