What's Really Happening In Arkham Knight's True Ending

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

You have to do a lot of work to get the third, final ending in the latest Batman game. But the scene that plays out as a reward for completing 100 per cent of Arkham Knight is... unclear. So, of course, people are debating what it really means.

The sequence unlocked after defeating Scarecrow, the Arkham Knight's army and all those Riddler puzzles is an ambiguous epilogue to all the drama that precedes it.

WARNING: Huge story spoilers follow for Batman: Arkham Knight's story, including the 100 per cent ending.

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

In the final chunk of Arkham Knight's story campaign, Batman's secret identity is revealed to the world at large and the Dark Knight tells Alfred to activate the Knightfall Protocol.

The cutscene (via the RabidRetrospectGames YouTube channel) below shows what happens when players do everything to be done in the game. The Knightfall stinger is essentially the third ending of Arkham Knight.

Pretty severe, right?

The first ending concludes when you lock the Joker hallucination away in Bruce Wayne's head. That's followed by the showdown with Deathstroke after he assumes command of the Arkham Knight's forces, once the Knight's had an ultimate reckoning with Batman. Having completed that, players see Bruce Wayne going back to Wayne Manor and getting caught in an explosion that destroys his family home. A 100% completion unlocks the cutscene that starts with Jim Gordon.

Let's remember that Arkham Knight is a video game based off of a superhero comic-book character. That pretty much means you're practically obligated not to trust what you're seeing. Add to that truism the fact that the game frequently uses a psychoactive hallucinogen and the fan theories start flying. Players all over are talking about what the final stinger in the 100% ending cutscene means. The theories largely break down into a few different categories:

(Hover over the top left of each image and click on the magnifying glass icon to expand it.)

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

Bruce Wayne Isn't Dead and He's Become a Different Version of Batman

Batman doesn't kill, which makes the apparent double suicide that happens when Wayne Manor blows up highly unlikely. Faking his own death is just the kind of strategic mindfuck that Batman employs from time to time, so it doesn't seem entirely out of character here.

This theory gets more weight from some of the lines of dialogue that pop up at the end of some of the game's sidequests. Here's the ending of the Penguin questline, for example.

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending
What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

Similar notes are struck in Batman's goodbye to Catwoman, too, after beating the Riddler.

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

Some people also speculate that Batman himself might be using Scarecrow's fear toxin as a new weapon in his war on crime. He's used villains' innovations before after all, as shown in the games when he integrates Mr. Freeze and The Electrocutioner's technology for cryo-grenades and high-voltage attacks.

Jim Gordon Is Using Fear Gas On Gotham's Criminals

If it's not Batman using Scarecrow's evil hallucinogen, then it could be one of his surviving allies. Part of the cutscene above has Jim Gordon — who becomes Gotham's mayor after the events of the game — pondering how Batman used fear to keep criminals in check.

What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending
What's Really Happening in Arkham Knight's True Ending

Gordon refers to both Bruce Wayne and Batman as having been killed and being dead, which indicates that he hasn't heard from him.

Bruce Wayne Is Dead and Someone Else Is Batman Now

There's lots of precedent for this in The Dark Knight's publishing history, where either serious injury or supposed death has led to someone else assuming the role of Gotham's protector. In the comics, Dick Grayson — Batman's first sidekick who operates as Nightwing — took over after it looked like his mentor had died. The Azrael sidequest in Arkham Knight is a reference to the Knightfall comics storyline where another version of that character became a more vicious version of Batman. But, given that Batman spends the majority of the game waging an inner conflict with a Joker hallucination that wants him to kill, it seems unlikely that he'd end Alfred's life along with his own.

The Knightfall ending is intentionally ambiguous, designed to hint that Batman's legacy will continue even if Bruce Wayne is dead. The game only teases the possibility of someone taking up the mantle of the Bat after Bruce dies or disappears. Arkham Knight creators Rocksteady have said before that this game is the end of a trilogy and their next project has not been announced. It'd be silly to think that there won't be more Batman games. But the Dark Knight's next video game may not be picking up where this one leaves off.


Comments

    Like most of the Arkham series Knightfall stems from an existing storyline. In the comic version of Knightfall after Bane takes out Batman Azrael takes on the mantle. Naturally he ends up going too far trying to be a better Batman than Batman. The Arkham Knight ending implies that in this universe his version of going too far is that he uses Scarecrow's fear gas as a weapon. Obviously there's room for a fake out and they could turn that all on it's head, but it's the most likely option.

      That's one idea. There's also the idea that metahumans are referenced multiple times in the game, it's entirely possible that angle could be explored. Alternatively, Azrael could have picked up the mantle, his abilities in the past include gross theatrics such as using insane amounts of fire etc including with his sword. While the gas would be the easiest one to explain, I'm more inclined to believe a combination of two: Azrael + Fear gas.

        I dunno. I've always considered the non-Batman meta-human references in the Arkham games to be more of an Easter egg rather than foreshadowing. I'm sure that like the previous games any future game in this universe will have at least one meta-human in the mix but I doubt it's going to be critical to the story.
        I think as far as Batman centric stories go there's not a huge amount to adapt from here. The game ends with Batman going into hiding/retiring. Some time will pass and he'll be prompted to make a comeback. Normally the Justice League falling apart would work as the motivation or factor in, but it doesn't really connect to the games and in terms of gameplay it's a stretch (most meta-humans, especially the heroes, don't have swarms of thugs to fight). If that's the direction they're heading then the conversations we overhear aren't really foreshadowing as much as just making us aware that these things exist via completely optional/missable Easter eggs.
        It'd be one thing if the topic came up in the main missions, Superman isn't there because Batman doesn't trust him or won't let himself rely on help, however the most we get is that people know to call Ivy a meta-human. They don't really weight in on it in any significant way. To me the only thing that really fits about a more meta-centric followup series is that mechanically the Arkham games have put a great deal of importance on increasing in size and scope of the game, and giving Batman super powers (or the power to counter super powers) is a way of doing that.

        Anything could happen, and I'm not against that sort of story if they can make it work, I just don't think the games have been planting that seed. I think it's more likely that we see something where Bruce is forced to come back to deal with the fallout of both Azrael's unstable run as Batman and leaving his allies in the dark about faking his death. Whatever they do though it's going to feel weird since this plays like a pretty definitive finale right up until that cut-scene.

        Personally I like the idea of a Nightwing game where you have to return to Gotham to deal with Azrael, slowly discovering Bruce is still alive over the course of the game, ending with you defeating Azrael and becoming the new Batman (with a wink from the shadows implying Bruce approves and is in the process of moving onto something bigger). I doubt it'll happen though. They've been so reluctant to move on from the Arkham Asylum name that I can't see them ever changing the headline to feature Nightwing.

          Definitely not an easteregg, there's metahuman DLC planned for Arkham Knight soon. As far as future games go, there definitely is, you can do a variant on 'The Dark Knight Returns'. Set say 20 years down the line. Of course stuff will be changed a fair bit but it'll be fitting to do it for this series. Bruce Wayne 'dead', Batman 'back' etc.

    I think any future Batman Arkham games (not made by Rocksteady) will be set in the period between Origins and Asylum and probably use the voice cast from Origins.

    There was also a clue on any future in some of the criminal dialogue Batman hears. One of them says something like "Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and now Arkham Knight, what's next?" then another one says "I dunno, but maybe we should spend some time away from Gotham City".

    So I don't know if that's meant to indicate a new direction for the Batman series (perhaps a Nightwing game in Bludhaven?) or Rocksteady themselves moving onto other things.

    Now that the trilogy is over, I've just realised how many similarities there are between the Arkham trilogy and the Metroid Prime trilogy. Seriously, check this out:

    Both trilogys were made by developers that have names starting with "R" (Rocksteady/Retro).
    Both trilogys had two games on one console generation, while the third was released on the next console generation.
    Both centred around characters of another company's IP (DC/Nintendo).
    Both characters were orphaned at a young age.
    The third game in both trilogys finally allowed us to use re-imagined versions of the protagonist's main vehicle (Batmobile/Samus's ship).
    Both vehicles could be controlled remotely, and had grappling hooks.
    In the third game, both protagonists had become corrupted; Samus by Phazon, Batman by Joker's blood and fear toxin.
    The final game in both trilogys have endings requiring 100% completion. Both endings feature mysterious characters.

    All that, plus the fact that Asylum even plays a hell of a lot like Metroid Prime.

    these things happen... nothing like indefinite ending though

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