Batman Arkham Timeline
The Arkham-verse of Batman games is an odd beast, a Frankenstein’s beast of a creation, with a story tying the four games in the series together and well known comic events that over the years have helped define who batman is and the world he in habits. As with most things comic book related the whole story is a bit convoluted and requires more patience than should really be necessary. So allow me then to break it down for you. This won’t be comprehensive by any means, instead acting more as a primer for people interested in the Arkham games and lore.
Year One/ Arkham Origins – Conically the first game in the series is Arkham Origins, tells the story of Batman’s first ‘big night’. At this point in his career, Batman has been going for about a year and has made a lot of head way in breaking down some of the organised crime families in Gotham. On Christmas Eve, a bounty is put on Batman’s head by Black Mask, drawing in eight of the worlds most deadly assassins such as Deadshot, Deathstroke, Firefly and Bane.
Over the course of the game it is revealed that Black Mask is actually the Joker, marking this as the first time Batman and the Joker have ever fought. The game then goes on to tell part of the Alan Moore Killing Joke story, revealing that Joker was made the way he is because of “One Bad Day” (and being thrown in chemicals by a over zealous Batman). By the end, Joker is apprehended and sent off for his first stay in Arkham Asylum.
Origins also has close links to the Knightfall story line because of the use of Bane. Bane a super strong and calculating bad ass works out who Batman is and attacks the Batcave, almost killing Alfred in the process. Bane is most notable for his use of the drug venom which gives him his super strength, however one of the downsides of the drugs is that it can cause memory loss, leaving Bane unable to work out who Batman is anymore.
Other notable events in Origins
- Batman and Gordon become allies
- Batman first meets members of the league of shadows
- Deathstroke is recruited by Amanda Waller into the Suicide Squad
- Quincy Sharp, a political activist is persuaded by the League of Shadows to re-open Arkham Asylum
Year 2-8 – This time in the Arkham games is never shown directly in the games but a lot of major Batman plot lines happen in the time
- Harvey Dent becomes scarred and takes on the identity of Two-Face
- The Bat-family grows to include Barbara Gordon as Bat-Girl, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake all take up the mantle of Robin.
- Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing and moves to Bludhaven
- Jason Todd is captured and presumably killed by the Joker
- Barbara Gordon is shot and paralyzed from the waist down by Joker and becomes “Oracle” – Killing Joke Storyline
- Other members of Batman’s rogues gallery also make an appearance, including Poison Ivy, Riddler, Scarecrow, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul etc.
- Bane is hinted to have broken Batman’s back at some point in this time period – Knightfall
- No mention is made of who replaces Wayne as Batman during this time period, his conically replacement is called Jean-paul Valley who is also Azreal (But not the Arkham verses Azreal, yeah it’s confusing)
- Joker seduces his psychiatrist in Arkham, Dr Harleen Quinzel who joins his gang as Harley Quinn.
Arkham Asylum – Now we come to the events of the first game in the series, at this point Batman is a veteran of almost a decades worth of crime fighting and is well respected by the Gotham police department. In this time he’s fought with Joker countless times. The night the game starts, Joker is arrested by Batman relatively easily, causing Batman to be concerned. When Joker is escorted through the Asylum he breaks free, revealing his plan was to be captured all along to get into Arkham and find Doctor Young who broke a deal with him, all the while tormenting Batman as he does so.
It is revealed that the Young had been working on a enhanced version of Bane’s Venom steroid called Titan. This gives the user incredibly strength but it’s still in the trial phase of development. The effects of Titan are shown off in a fight agasint Bane, who is forced against his will to be a human guinea pig for the trials. In the fight against Bane, mention is made that at some point in the past Bane “Broke the Bat”, batman uses the Bat-mobile to subdue Bane.
During his time at the Aslyum, Batman also encounters serial killer Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and Scarecrow. The last two get into a fight in the sewers and it’s presumed that Scarecrow is killed by Croc. By the end of the night Batman is forced into a show down against Joker who uses the Titan drug to give himself the upper-hand. Batman manages to win the encounter and the Joker reverts to his original size but is incredibly scarred and ill from use of Titan.
The game ends there with one of three post-credit stings that implies that either Scarecrow, Killer Croc or Bane escape the Asylum and find a box filled with the Titan serum. Now because Scarecrow is the main antagonist in Arkham Knight I think it’s safe to assume that the ending with Scarecrow is the conical one.
Arkham City – One year on from the events of the Asylum and a lot has changed in Gotham. Following the public demand for a solution to the super villain problem, Arkham Warden Quincy Sharp is elected mayor of Gotham and quickly annexes part of Old Gotham, forming a new open prison called “Arkham City” Dr Hugo Strange is made the Warden of the city. In this city, all of Gotham’s prisoners are placed including Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker, each begins to reform their own gangs and quickly the city is made up of constantly warring factions,
In Protest to the building of the prison, Bruce Wayne holds a protest rally outside but is apprehended by Arkham security and arrested and put in the prison, with Hugo Strange revealing he knows that Wayne is Batman. After breaking free and gaining access to his suit, Batman begins investigating what’s going on in the city. During his time in the city he meets up with Cat-women, Bane, Mad Hatter and other villains, even working with Bane for a short time to find and destroy all the Titan left in the city (They double cross one another of course).
Eventually Batman finds Joker who is very ill and slowly dying of Titan poisoning, he infects Batman so that he’ll be forced to find the two of them a cure. From here the plot gets a bit complicated with Mr Freeze, Talia and Ras Al Ghul all making an appearance, leading to the deaths of Hugo Strange and Ras Al Ghul being defeated and the whole Arkham City plan being his. Talia upon stealing the cure for Joker and Batman’s condition offers to give it to Joker for some reason (I seriously can’t remember the justification) It looks like Joker has recovered but is instead Clayface and Joker is still ill, Batman beats up Clayface and cures himself, before giving the cure to Joker, he accidentally drops it when Joker attacks him, causing the Joker to at last die.
Batman at last leaves Arkham City, carrying the Jokers dead body. The story of Arkham City is a bit all over the place and frantic at times, so really just remember the following
- Joker is now Dead
- Batman cured of the illness Joker gave him
- Talia Al Ghul, Bruces lover is dead
- Hugo Strange Dead
- Azreal has warned Batman of a coming storm
So we come to Arkham Knight, I hope this guide has at least cleared up what is going on in the Arkham Knight. These games have incredibly dense lore to them (thanks to drawing from 75 years of comics) so I’ve doubtless missed a lot of the details and hints to other events.
This primer was as much for me as it was for any of you. I do love these games and I do find the stories pretty good for the most part (The tendency to side line women is a bit obnoxious*)
*There’s a reason the term Women in the fridge came from a DC property