And other advice for the modern self-serious Caped Crusader.
A sort of review for Batman Arkham Knight?
Batman’s look, his Ｂａｔｈｓｔｅｔｉｃ, makes sense in four contexts:
- punching people in confined spaces (in the dark)
- standing perfectly still on rooftops (at night)
- advancing menacingly (from the shadows)
- gliding through the air (in poor lighting conditions)
Any deviations at all from this formula spells disaster, the suspension of disbelief is lifted and you realise that a guy dressed as a bat (assuming you’ve never seen a bat before) trying to fight crime is a little silly.
Let’s look at some of the ways this can go wrong.
1: Batman Vs Daylight: Dawn Of Dawn
As you may have picked up earlier, I think staying in the shadows is pretty imperative to “serious” Batman’s whole deal.
If you’ve ever seen a black cat moving through a field in the afternoon you’ll understand, the dark colours that work well when lurking in the shadows look ridiculous out in the open and make the person/cat more conspicuous.
I understand that “a new day is dawning” is nice visual metaphor and all but Batman’s sort of like a classic horror monster, the mystery is what’s important. If you can see that he’s wearing mascara, well, something is lost.
2: Walk, Don’t Run!
It’s just about possible to walk in a “dark and brooding” manner but running? No can do. In Arkham Knight, in defiance of all sense the player may feel compelled to press the run button and all that “I AM THE NIGHT” posturing melts away. Batman breaks into a brisk jog, his footfalls are heavy and the cape seems like a burden as it billows pointlessly behind him (the cape in general threatens to undermine any scene if you really focus on it). We should count ourselves lucky there’s no audible panting. It’s a reminder that Bruce Wayne’s a man and that there’s only so fast a guy in body armour with a curtain draped over himself can run.
The camera zooms out for these sections too, which brings me to my next point.
3: Batman About Town:
With the exception of the night sky, the openest space of all, open spaces, and perhaps to be more specific, public spaces are a no go area for Batman.
Batman exists in a fictional version of our world, sure, but once he leaves his natural places in it (rooftops, drafty caves that only a billionaire would consider viable as a one-man-and-his-butler-open-plan office, back-alleys, warehouses and asylums) and into the places that we move about in our daily lives, the mystique is ruined.
Compare Batman’s conversation with commissioner Gordon on this Batman-friendly rooftop to his gossiping with this fireman in the plaza outside his company’s building (granted, Batman’s vacant stare doesn’t help the latter example).
Whether they’re aware of this rule I’m just making up now or not, Rocksteady have filled Arkham Knight with a number of tools to allow you to avoid seeing Batman at his weakest point, at his most mortal, his most human: trying to cross a road.
Batman shouldn’t be seen out in the open, just like in Star Wars where “Darth Vader is… huge on the screen, he really dominates it.” but in Battlefront “distant Darth Vader is one of the dumbest looking things”, plonking Bats in a field never works.
4: Batman Shouldn’t Be Hassled In The Streets
Now, perhaps this is some crafty ploy to get you to stay away from street level, which as we discussed is when Batman is at his worst, but one of the curious features of Rocksteady’s vision of what it’s like to “Be The Batman” is their vision of a cape crusader who is constantly hassled by thugs if he stays still long enough. There you are trying to take in the in-jokes when someone will yell “hey, it’s Batman” and charge you or try to run you over with a car (#4.5 Batman shouldn’t be run over with a car). Even when you’re in the Batmobile, people still want to get in your grill (they can’t though, thanks to that super safe electrical current running through it).
So there you have it, four tips on how to keep your Bat-brand on point. Other superheroes, feel free to contact me, I am available to consult.
E3 you say? Never heard of it.