What Happens To [REDACTED] In Arkham Knight Is Really Not Good

What Happens to (REDACTED) in Arkham Knight Is Really Not Good

Something happens in Arkham Knight that puts it way up in the running for Darkest Batman Story ever.

Massive spoilers follow.

What Happens to (REDACTED) in Arkham Knight Is Really Not Good

I'm not done playing the latest Batman game yet. Overall, I'm enjoying Arkham Knight a lot. Many of the game's features -- upgraded implementation of existing gadgets, introduction of new ones, stealthy Batmobile sequences -- have kept me happy so far. But the main reason I've played these latter-day Dark Knight video games has been to see how Rocksteady (and Warner Bros. Montreal for Arkham Origins) re-configures elements in the character's mythos. Based on decades of reading Batman comics, I have ideas about who the Arkham Knight is. And, for when I finish the game, I'm working on an article about other Bat-stories that may have influenced its narrative. Still, one thing that happens about halfway through the game left me reeling.

Again, massive spoilers follow.

A few chapters into Batman's quest to stop Scarecrow from raining terror down on Gotham, Barbara Gordon points a gun at her head, pulls the trigger and apparently takes her own life.

What Happens to (REDACTED) in Arkham Knight Is Really Not Good

The act happens under the influence of the archvillain's fear gas, as a wounded Batman helplessly stands outside a glass enclosure, unable to reach her in time. The shock delivered by the sequence is incredible. Up until this point, I'd been playing with the expectation that Batman would do what he almost always does, which is save lives, especially those of the people closest to him. But as I kept playing, I was dogged by thoughts of how terrible that plot point made me feel. Mostly because of who it happens to.

Barbara Gordon -- uniquely well-adjusted as far as Bat-family characters go -- was already a Professional Victim once. Alan Moore used her as a high-profile victim of the Joker in his renowned Killing Joke story, where Batman's mortal enemy shoots her through the spine and paralyzes her below the waist. After writer John Ostrander re-invented the character as super-hacker/information broker Oracle in the Suicide Squad comic, she'd become a symbol of perseverance and an icon for handicapped people everywhere. Her life had changed after losing the use of her legs but, in the character's best stories, it wasn't any lesser than it was before.

She became the leader of a strike team in the Birds of Prey series and regularly overcame foes who underestimated her. She wasn't a victim anymore. Except now, here she is, being dangled as motivation/bait all over again in Arkham Knight. I get that this is Rocksteady's video game version of Batman, one that's not necessarily beholden to fan and creator attitudes that have shaped these characters' histories. But this still feels like a step backward for a character that's currently enjoying a very well-received change of tone in her current comic-book series.

Like I said above, I haven't finished playing Arkham Knight yet. There may be some big turnabout that changes the way I perceive the controversial scene above. And plot trickery is to be expected in any story where Scarecrow and his psychological manipulations are involved. But going to the "endangered/abused loved one" well again with Barbara Gordon is bullshit. Wheelchair or no, the character got past being a damsel in distress a long time ago. I can't feel great about any moment that hobbles her growth past that tired old trope. I hope the upcoming Batgirl DLC doesn't just show her being a hero before her life-changing encounter with the Joker. I hope we also get to see Oracle saving the day on her own.


Comments

    All I can say without additional spoilers is you may need to revisit this article by the time the credits roll :)

      The point still stands though.


      Yes Barbara is till alive, but she's fridged and there are huge issues that she doesn't do much at the beginning of the game only to get kidnapped and be a main plot device.

      There are four women in the game, three out of four of them get kidnapped and the third is pining after a boy. None of these are particularly bad by themselves, but there isn't a single good female role in the game and it's disappointing the Rocksteady really hasn't figured this out yet.

    Finish the story before you complain about it...

      Completely agree. This article was totally unnecessary. As soon as I read "I haven't finished playing Arkham Knight yet", I rolled my eyes. Finish the game first.

      As for Barbara Gordon, don't forget that DC Comics decided to make her Batgirl again in the New 52 series, essentially undoing all the points you raised regarding her as the Oracle character.

      Quick note... is the .gif animation of Batman (that's the same as the still image above it) really necessary?

      Last edited 01/07/15 12:08 pm

    This article is really unnecessary. You shouldn't be putting something like this up in the first place as it is a major plot spoiler. Also, it's mentioned that you haven't finished the story, so you don't know the whole story yet.

      I presume she isn't really dead then?

        I have no clue. I'm not too far beyond this moment in the game myself. For all I know she might survive, or she is actually dead and Rocksteady has some major balls for doing something controversial.

      Not posting articles because they contain spoilers is NOT a solution. These blog sites are about discussing shit, and it's kind of impossible to discuss spoiler plot points without spoiling people who haven't reached them yet. There are spoiler warnings aplenty, and that's enough.

      Last edited 01/07/15 10:38 am

        I agree, no issue with posting articles with spoilers (since they're flagged as such) but this article is plain silly, given that he hasn't finished the story yet to find out what comes next.

        Spoiler:

        She survives and it was just a trick Scarecrow played on him.

    What a load of crap. 1st, mate finish the game. 2nd, hop of the Anita bandwagon she's a con-woman. 3rd, you have seemed to miss a massive plot point, scarecrow wants batman to suffer and be frightened (I know right, who would of thought scarecrow would want that), can u not understand that killing Barbara is 2 birds with one stone, it gets at commissioner Gordon and Barbara. Both are friends and allies of batman. This makes the bat feel like he's failing, losing everything he cares about and to be crippled by the fear that he can't protect who he loves. So buddy finish the game before you jump on the sjw bandwagon, engage your critical thinking and just enjoy it for what it is. A bloody awesome finale to a great trilogy of games (arkham origins I haven't played so I don't count it sorry)

    She seems kinda redundant in this game as an adviser to Batman. In a few collaborative instances they have together Batman is making the intuitive decisions and providing the breakthroughs. She just seems to be there as a mission update mechanic until replaced by Alfred.

    I'm not sure whether or not this counts as a spoiler topic, but I'll tag this anyway. If you haven't made it to the very end of the game avoid this.

    Aside from the obvious point about this being a fake out, technically everyone in the game is a damsel in distress. You save police officers, the fire department, ACE Chem workers, Lucius Fox, a Robin, Gordon, Catwoman, and while all of them are objects to be rescued none of them are complex characters reduced to nothing more than cheap motivational tools. The entire point of the plot is that it's not Gotham that's under siege it's Batman himself that's under siege. So everyone he knows ends up being 'dangled as bait/motivation'.
    Just because some games/movies use that trope badly it doesn't automatically reduce everyone to 2D characters there to be saved. Barbara Gordon's 'death' prompts a falling out between Gordon and Batman and a whole bunch of other stuff in the story. It's a massively important to the whole 'Batman is pushed beyond his breaking point' aspect of the story. Even before Barbara's death the game has a running theme of people Batman has failed to protect haunting him. It opens with a scenario you can't win and throws it at you again when you pass the guy in the police station. In the other games those ACE chem workers would have been fine but for once you don't make it just in time. Arkham Knight is obviously someone you've let down. Right off the bat you're making mistakes with Robin that stem from past failures.
    I understand that her death scene isn't up to the standards of a true death scene for a really likeable character which would be annoying if it were her actual death, but that's one of the major indicators that it was a fake out. I think at some point they made a decision that they wouldn't try too hard to sell us on things that would build to twists. They never really hid who the Arkham Knight was, Barbara's death wasn't particularly convincing, The end of the game would have been as annoying as Dark Knight Rises, but instead it's ok because the game didn't insist that it duped you, it just insisted that the people of Gotham fell for it.

      @mase, this is the kind of amazing comment that makes articles like these worthwhile. Nailing points left, right, and centre.

      Well said.

      Possible spoilers:

      That part of the story was not convincing at all and I immediately realised something is probably up. In fact the whole story was extremely predictable (yet still great).

      The internal battle Batman had with himself was excellent. It also reminded me of Nietzsche's overused saying about he who fights monsters...

      As for this article. It's cognative bias. If you're looking for things to get offended and upset about, you're likely to find them in abundance. A shame though as you miss out on some cool stuff along the way.

      Very well written. Good calls, DogMan.

    can't she both be a strong character and get captured, i mean she didn't go without a fight, she even was able crash the getaway car and hide information for batman in the aftermath even though she knew she couldn't get away, showing that she can be a bad-ass without a computer

    "Damsel in distress" has a pretty specific meaning as far as literary devices go, but these days it seems like people will just throw the label derisively at any female character who is put in a bad situation.

    Bad things happen to everyone. It's only when there's a pattern over time that a particular work frequently or always depicts women as victims that there might be a problem. This game, this game series and the Batman franchise as a whole for the last decade haven't done that at all.

    Misusing terms robs them of their power. Look at the word 'misogynist', which used to mean hatred or strong dislike of women, is now synonymous with 'sexist'. We used to have a word for the former, now we don't.

    Well the upside to this article is knowing this event made you feel how the developers wanted you to. The article reads no different to an action movie that was watched right up to the 'overwhelming and insurmountable odds' part and saying "well, they're fucked now. That was depressing."

    I could write an essay about how god awful the writing in Arkham Knight is. Refrigerating Babs is just the icing on the cake of tone deaf, wasted moments.

    Are you kidding? Really?
    MASSIVE, MASSIVE SPOILER

    she's alive. she's a device used to illustrate and escalate Batman's descent into craziness, not a fucking "damsel in distress," the scene is Batman after being subjected to Scarecrow's toxin.

    Last edited 01/07/15 12:23 pm

      Not gonna lie, but I hope the author of this article feels really silly once they finish the game... and review the comments listed here on the article. Sorry mate (Evan Narcisse) - but you really should finish the game before you judge and complain about the story, because things aren't always as they seem!

      Last edited 01/07/15 1:54 pm

    Spoilers ahead:

    It's already been said by another user here but realistically, Barbara Gordon is not a "fucking damsel in distress". Batman doesn't just try and save her, but he also saves Catwoman, Robin, Lucius Fox, Gordon, Alfred (Batman: Arkham Origins) and even Nightwing. Most of these characters are very strong, capable characters who believe it or not, something goes wrong and they wind up needing help. Despite the strength, intelligence and will of all these characters, at the end of the day they are all human, they are not untouchable, they can make mistakes - just like Batman. As for Barbara, she actually survived. In reality, she didn't actually shoot herself at all. Batman just saw that, he was hallucinating under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin. Barbara's capture was supposed to show how desperate Batman would become to save the ones who are close to him, and in the end with her apparent "death" it would just show to Batman that no matter how hard he tried, he wouldn't be able to save everyone. This is what Scarecrow wanted, he wanted Batman to fail, he wanted Batman to doubt himself, he wanted the world to see Batman fail. Look at it this way, when Barbara "died", Batman didn't even tell Robin, one of his closest allies (and in the Arkhamverse, Tim Drake has a relationship with Barbara) because he thought it would keep Robin focused on doing the job he originally had Robin to do. Batman even locked Robin away in a cell to try and "protect" him, and at the end of the day Robin got captured anyway. Batman's fears got the best of him. That was the point. To show the audience that while Batman is "Batman" - he can get scared.

    Last edited 01/07/15 2:15 pm

    Let's be fair here. Gordon, Lucious, Robin, Nightwing, Jack Rider, and even Batman, get captured. It's not just the women.

    And I have issues with the characterization of a lot of the male characters, too. Scarecrow was wasted and nothing more than a cool sounding voice. Dent hasn't gotten great treatment. Cobblepot had little to do. And both of those guys were supposedly in on this whole plan against Batman. Nightwing gets captured twice in the same section of that side mission.

    There's a lot to complain about with the writing, with the female characters being the least of the problems.

Join the discussion!