Rocksteady’s Sefton Hill Talks ‘Batman: Arkham City’ Ending

Feb 9, 2012 by  

Rocksteady Talks Batman Arkham City Ending

Now that Batman: Arkham City has been on retail store shelves for almost four months now it was high time that developer Rocksteady Studios start talking secrets, and what better secret to discuss than the game’s controversial ending. Though not as polarizing as some storylines contained within the Batman comic books, the ending to Arkham City cements the property as one of the boldest Dark Knight tales in quite some time.

Arkham City Director Sefton Hill sat down with CVG to discuss how early on in the development process the team at Rocksteady settled on the game’s ending, and why they chose to go that route. It goes without saying, but if you haven’t finished Arkham City yet, it’s best to turn back now.

At the conclusion of Arkham Asylum, Batman had taken down a handful of Gotham’s rogues gallery of villains and left the Joker poisoned and on the brink of death. It’s here that Arkham City picks up with Joker now looking more worse for wear, and being left with no option but to put Batman in the same boat and hope he finds a cure.

Unfortunately Joker’s plan backfires, and gamers are left with a final scene featuring Batman carrying Joker’s limp corpse out of Arkham City, a striking visual if there ever was one, and one that Rocksteady settled on early.

For Rocksteady, story has always been paramount to the experience, and so they arrived at Joker’s death early in development. Luckily DC Comics had no problem with the direction Rocksteady was headed with Arkham City, and provided the move wasn’t done simply for shock value.

“We decided fairly early on, I guess. Batman is very much about the story, so we discuss the story early. Right at the start we sat down and thought what story we wanted to tell. We knew we had Joker starting off sick from the previous game and we wanted to play on that idea. Pretty early on we hit on this idea of Joker poisoning Batman and the two of them having this kind of shared goal, but with diametrically opposed world views. We felt that gave a lot of opportunity to interact in interesting ways, and I guess then we sort of knew that we wanted that story to have resonance in the universe.”

Having experienced the breadth of Arkham City firsthand it’s easy to see where Rocksteady wanted to take the story, even if the conclusion was a bit abrupt. When, in early promotional trailers, it was shown that Joker’s condition had not improved, the thought lingered that this would be a “Joker dies” storyline, but playing through the game certainly throws players plenty of misdirection.

Ultimately, Rocksteady pulls off quite the feat in not just packing the game full of Batman villains and side characters, but in telling a story that is poignant for Batman fans everywhere. And, as Hill teases in the interview, Arkham City may just be the middle act in a grander story.

How did you feel about the Arkham City ending? Do you think Rocksteady pulled it off or was it done just for the shock value?

Batman: Arkham City is available now for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Source: CVG

15 Comments

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  1. They pulled it off, no questions asked. I’m a die-hard comic book fan, and I despise when movies, cartoons, or video games kill off characters that aren’t dead in the comics. I still would like to give Bret Ratner a middle-finger for “X-men: The Last Stand.”

    But when I played through Arkham City and watched every cutscene, I was enthralled. It was one hell of a story. And in the end, Joker dies, and I wasn’t mad at all. I was shocked, but I thought the overall story and the buildup to that scene made it all worthwhile. I thought Joker’s death was the perfect sendoff for Mark Hamill voicing the Joker. They took Joker out of the equation without closing the door on a potential third game. Because let’s face it, Rocksteady put one little hint in “Arkham Asylum” about Arkham City, and we got a sequel. “Arkham City” is packed with easter eggs and teasers that hint at a third game. I’ll make a short SPOILER FILLED list of the ones I found.

    1. Harley’s pregnancy test that suggests she’s pregnant with Joker’s baby, along with her singing a lullaby during the ending credits.

    2) Ra’s Al Ghul will be back (Lazarus Pit), and you know he’s going to not let Batman get away with foiling his plans in “Arkham City.”

    3) Azrael’s warnings of a dark time coming and Gotham burning, and Batman being the only one who can stop it.

    4) Hush wasn’t captured, he escaped while Batman was locked in Hush’s hideout.

    5) Scarecrow’s mask that reveals he survived the attack by Croc in the first game, along with the boat near “Amusement Mile” that contains a shipment for Johnathon Crane that contains one of his henchman being affected by the fear toxin. Along with during “Protocol 10″ you can find the remains of Scarecrow’s thugs who were carrying out some sort of scheme.

    Sure, those hints don’t guarentee a sequel, and that “Arkham World” tease was all for giggles. But you never know. And I don’t see Rocksteady shying away from a sure-fire cashcow that a third game would surely be. I for one would like to see a fully free-roaming Gotham City.

    • That thing about Ra’s Al Ghul was an assumption. I didn’t mean to put it on the list of hints or teases I found in “Arkham City.”

    • Not only do i think Ra’s is coming back if there is a third game, but i also think Clay Face will make a return because if you noticed at the end of Arkham City Clay Face falls into the Lazarus Pit

      • @gary, poison ivy also said “I’ll kill them all” after you complete all of catwoman’s side quests and riddles.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but I’d like to know where the episodic dlc i was promised is

  3. I hope ra’s is in the next game, his numbers were too great.

  4. I do not truly believe the Joker is dead. I think it was Clayface made to look like the Joker. Batman was knocked out during the final fight and wakes up to find a dead “Joker”. Clayface always wanted that big moment, that grand scene, and what is more poignant then the dramatic death of an icon? I think there will be a third game and Joker will be back under an alias, and be revealed later.

  5. I just played the game for a second time, it was fun seeing all of the hints the developers put into the game concerning the reveal at the end with Clayface. It was really masterfully done since, the first time I played the game, I didn’t see that coming.

  6. All I can say is with all the Easter eggs and the radio Easter eggs there will be dlc And there will be a third installment to this series

  7. Harley’s pregnant ? I guest I miss that one

    • It was really easy to miss. Only reason I caught it was because I handed off the controller to the kid I was “watching”. Instead of fighting or something, he looked around at the world and found a stick with a + on it. He asked me what it was. I didn’t so much respond as piss myself at the sight of a positive pregnancy test.

  8. But would a pregnant Harley/Joker spawn be a threat to Batman? Maybe if the story of Arkham 3 occurred several years later. With a much older Batman, that could be awesome, but the villains would all be aged as well (maybe with Joker’s kid leading the charge). I wouldn’t be surprised if Rocksteady was in process of talking story with DC right now to figure out the next step.

    With that said, could another game really outdo this one’s story? I’m not so sure. Sure, Ra’s never seems to die, but with no Joker, Strange, Talia and (maybe) Clayface, I’m not sure who would lead the wagon in the fight against Batman. To me, Rocksteady made Two-Face appear more like a thug than an intimidating villain, so maybe he would get a bigger piece of the pie. Scarecrow needs to be back, and though I don’t much care for Ivy, I’d love to see Croc and Bane return (maybe we could have a more psychological story with Bane, a la “Dark Knight Rises).

  9. I didn’t like the ending because frankly it didn’t make sense. I mean Joker shoots Talia right? Is it confirmed she died? If she DID die then why isn’t Batman carrying out the body of the only woman he’s really loved? So did Batman just say,”Screw her she’ll probably just revive herself in the Lazurus Pit”? I would think he’d be more concerned about Talia after the whole thing and immediately try to see what her condition was.

  10. Am I the only person that remembers Rocksteady and even certain voice actors talking about episodic DLC taking place either before, during or after the events in Arkham City?

  11. more worse? are you serious right now?

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