Warning: mild spoilers follow for plot points in Batman: Arkham Origins.
So, Barbara Gordon didn’t become Batgirl in the latest Bat-game. It was a longshot, sure, since this was a prequel focused on Bruce Wayne’s maturation into the role of Batman. But, after playing the freshly released Batman: Arkham Origins, I came away thinking that Batman’s female sidekick really needs to appear in an upcoming batman video game. Mostly because she’s not so damn depressing.
The best thing about Barbara Gordon being in Arkham Origins is that she represents the people that Batman is working to save. People who, aside from a few NPCs being beaten up or held hostage, are largely absent from Gotham. She’s a civilian, albeit an abnormally gifted one, and the hero worship on display in her scenes with her police captain dad James Gordon foreshadows her costumed identity in a big way.
That hero worship is key. Babs is idealistic in a way that few characters in the Bat-canon are and it’s also why she’d be a welcome tonic to the grimdark mood of the Batman video games. Revenge isn’t part of her origin story. She’s arguably more altruistic than many other Bat-family members because Barbara Gordon comes to the cause without having endured the kind of trauma that Bruce or Dick or Tim did. If Bruce Wayne’s male sidekicks get a place by his side because they partially remind him of himself, then Batgirl earns it by virtue of how different she is from him.
Arkham Origins is yet another piece of Bat-lore that hews to the theory that Batman’s rogues gallery — an all sorts of crazy criminal activity — essentially comes into full flower because the Dark Knight exists. The insertion of Batgirl would prove the opposite is true, too: Batman’s existence also drives people to be better and more heroic.
I also love that the focus on Batgirl in her various incarnations has generally been on her brain. The psychological intimidation and the methods by which he achieves it — growly voice, imposing physique and fearsome reputation — that Batman uses to solve crimes is less available to her. So she’s got to be smarter.
Now, Barbara Gordon might not wind up becoming the Darknight Damsel — yeah, they used to call her that back in the day — at all in the next crop of Batman video games. Yes, she was heard in Arkham Asylum in her Oracle identity. But, it may so happen that a fateful encounter with the Joker, like the infamous one in The Killing Joke, puts her in a wheelchair and sets up her information broker/super hacker alter ego. The people in charge at WB Games could leapfrog over her entire career as Batgirl in the Arkham continuity. But, despite the fact that her Oracle identity is an incredible symbol of resilience and perseverance, it’d be a shame if they did. Batgirl — and what she represents — is an important part of the Bat-mythos, one that would help the video game version of the Dark Knight feel even more human.