Batman, Morals, and Rocksteady's Masterpiece (Spoilers)

Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

Something that most RPG gamers are aware of, the morality meter, provides a quick and easy way to track your moral progress. Am I evil, good, or somewhere in between? A choice is good or bad, moral or immoral, paragon or renegade; it all depends on the game. By saying one thing, doing an action, you're awarded a certain kind of point. Your appearance may change depending on your alignment, and you'll get one of three endings to correspond to your choices.

We all know that Batman is the ultimate good guy (aside from that jerk-ass Superman); a man willing to sacrifice his love and life for the good of the many. Gotham is crawling with murderers, rapists and supercriminals of all sorts, and Batman is the man who is set to take them all down. He is Atlas, posed to shoulder the wight of the world on his shoulders. Training from childhood to become the perfect crimefighting machine, Batman is unstoppable and infallible, unshakable and unbeatable.

It's this expectation that sets Batman up to be such a wonderful character. Arkham City stands by the side of The Killing Joke as a glimpse into what may very well be the worn-out, shattered psyche of the Bat. As Arkham City starts out, Batman is stone-cold and set on tearing Arkham City apart from the inside, to put an end to Strange's plans and protect his beloved people. Quickly, Batman is infected by Joker's blood, beginning the countdown to Batman's death.

The crumbling will of Batman first arises when you meet Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze), clinging on to life while being cooked alive in a tropical museum exhibit. The only thing keeping Freeze alive is a canister of liquid attached to his chest, keeping his internal temperature sub-zero. As Freeze defied Batman and denies him access to the necessary tools to progress, Batman tears out the canister and begins to dump it on the floor, demanding that Freeze cooperate. Batman is not shy of threatening those who oppose him, but to throw Freeze's life in the balance by taking him off of life support is a rash, emotional move. Knowing that he could very well die, Batman is rubbing up against his only rule- thou shalt not kill.

The next eruption of Batman's anger and fear is, again, with Freeze. Freeze demands that Batman rescue his wife if Batman is to have the cure. Locked away in a vault, so incredibly close, Batman opts to fight Freeze for the cure, rather than attempt to save his wife. The battle is ended with Batman on top of Freeze, smashing the glass of Freeze's suit and repeatedly striking Freeze in the face. Once the safe is opened, it's revealed that Harley Quinn had broken into the safe and stolen the cure. In Batman's confusion and fear, he opted to fight Freeze, which cost him the cure and potentially thousands of innocent deaths of the people of Gotham.

Finally, when faces with the decision of finding and saving Talia al Ghul, his love, or deactivating Protocol 10-which is currently launching helicopter strikes and missiles all over Arkham City-he attempts to follow Talia. Alfred and Oracle have no choice but to cut off his satellite access, so he has no choice but to disable Protocol 10. As Alfred suggests, the lives of thousands are far more important than the lives of one single person. Even faced with this, Batman tried to rescue Talia, eschewing Alfred's ultimatum. Batman, the man who set out to stop all crime, had to be forced into preventing mass murder.

It's not often that we see Batman in a light other than the World's Greatest Detective; he is calm and logical in all situations, going about his objectives in a methodical, paced fashion. Arkham City, however, puts his life-and the lives of those he loves-in danger, forcing him to choose between his legacy or his feelings. Batman isn't a perfect figure, and it's more apparent than ever in Arkham City. With no morality meter to guide him, no definite feedback to what he should and should not do, the World's Greatest Detective is forced to do some soul searching.

#1 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

Something that most RPG gamers are aware of, the morality meter, provides a quick and easy way to track your moral progress. Am I evil, good, or somewhere in between? A choice is good or bad, moral or immoral, paragon or renegade; it all depends on the game. By saying one thing, doing an action, you're awarded a certain kind of point. Your appearance may change depending on your alignment, and you'll get one of three endings to correspond to your choices.

We all know that Batman is the ultimate good guy (aside from that jerk-ass Superman); a man willing to sacrifice his love and life for the good of the many. Gotham is crawling with murderers, rapists and supercriminals of all sorts, and Batman is the man who is set to take them all down. He is Atlas, posed to shoulder the wight of the world on his shoulders. Training from childhood to become the perfect crimefighting machine, Batman is unstoppable and infallible, unshakable and unbeatable.

It's this expectation that sets Batman up to be such a wonderful character. Arkham City stands by the side of The Killing Joke as a glimpse into what may very well be the worn-out, shattered psyche of the Bat. As Arkham City starts out, Batman is stone-cold and set on tearing Arkham City apart from the inside, to put an end to Strange's plans and protect his beloved people. Quickly, Batman is infected by Joker's blood, beginning the countdown to Batman's death.

The crumbling will of Batman first arises when you meet Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze), clinging on to life while being cooked alive in a tropical museum exhibit. The only thing keeping Freeze alive is a canister of liquid attached to his chest, keeping his internal temperature sub-zero. As Freeze defied Batman and denies him access to the necessary tools to progress, Batman tears out the canister and begins to dump it on the floor, demanding that Freeze cooperate. Batman is not shy of threatening those who oppose him, but to throw Freeze's life in the balance by taking him off of life support is a rash, emotional move. Knowing that he could very well die, Batman is rubbing up against his only rule- thou shalt not kill.

The next eruption of Batman's anger and fear is, again, with Freeze. Freeze demands that Batman rescue his wife if Batman is to have the cure. Locked away in a vault, so incredibly close, Batman opts to fight Freeze for the cure, rather than attempt to save his wife. The battle is ended with Batman on top of Freeze, smashing the glass of Freeze's suit and repeatedly striking Freeze in the face. Once the safe is opened, it's revealed that Harley Quinn had broken into the safe and stolen the cure. In Batman's confusion and fear, he opted to fight Freeze, which cost him the cure and potentially thousands of innocent deaths of the people of Gotham.

Finally, when faces with the decision of finding and saving Talia al Ghul, his love, or deactivating Protocol 10-which is currently launching helicopter strikes and missiles all over Arkham City-he attempts to follow Talia. Alfred and Oracle have no choice but to cut off his satellite access, so he has no choice but to disable Protocol 10. As Alfred suggests, the lives of thousands are far more important than the lives of one single person. Even faced with this, Batman tried to rescue Talia, eschewing Alfred's ultimatum. Batman, the man who set out to stop all crime, had to be forced into preventing mass murder.

It's not often that we see Batman in a light other than the World's Greatest Detective; he is calm and logical in all situations, going about his objectives in a methodical, paced fashion. Arkham City, however, puts his life-and the lives of those he loves-in danger, forcing him to choose between his legacy or his feelings. Batman isn't a perfect figure, and it's more apparent than ever in Arkham City. With no morality meter to guide him, no definite feedback to what he should and should not do, the World's Greatest Detective is forced to do some soul searching.

#2 Posted by FoxMulder (1708 posts) -

Great post! I thought it was really something awesome to have him be so close to losing it in this game. And it was even cooler to see Oracle and Alfred stopping Batman and making him do the right thing. One of my favorite parts about the game is that he ends up "befriending" one of his biggest villans. I found myself finding Freezes wife almost immediately as the side quest was opened. I loved the hell out of this game and it may end up being my GOTY.

#3 Posted by hbkdx12 (779 posts) -

I disagree with the freeze aspect of it. Freeze is/was essentially the only salvation not only for batman but for gotham but all the while, being that they're on opposite sides of the spectrum, Freeze doesn't have much of a reason to help him. Batman needed to provide incentive. Hence he threatened his life. 
 
Surely, freeze knew that the safe was rigged for Harley to take the antidote as soon as he put it in the safe considering that Joker had possession of the only thing he cared about, his wife. When he crushed the second vile in front of batman, it was an attempt to manipulate batman into getting Nora back from Joker with the notion he would give him the other vile (which he knew wasn't there anyway) This way, Batman would do his bidding for him all the while not actually giving batman the cure.
 
So i think batman played it more logically rather than emotionally although it seemed that way considering all of gotham was relying on that antidote. 
 
Talia on the other hand was clearly emotional

#4 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

@hbkdx12: Logically, he could have walked out of the building and handled finding Freeze's wife right away. It wasn't a hard thing to do, and Freeze gave you the supplies you needed. The only reason he didn't is because he's dying, and that's the one thing Batman is afraid of: death. As tough and ruthless as he is, Batman is only human. In the heat of the moment, Batman chose to battle Freeze for his life. It could have been "Find wife>get cure" but Batman couldn't handle to wait while his life ticks to a close, and so he decided to attempt to get the cure with brute force.

#5 Edited by fetchfox (1338 posts) -

@The_Nubster: No I don't think he's afraid of death, that doesn't fit him. I'd say he felt that time was running out for the infected in Gotham and thus decided that fighting Freeze would give him the cure faster (and Freeze was quick on the trigger to attack him).

#6 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

@fetchfox: I would agree, but Batman says, "Tonight is not a good night to push me." before engaging in the fight with Freeze. Had he actually cared about the people of Gotham more than his own self, he would have said so, instead of bringing himself into the fold. Coupled with the willing disregard of the mass murder that was Protocol 10 to try and save Talia, it's clear that Batman was scared of losing everything that was important to him: his life and his love. His decision to fight Freeze was a rash and purely emotional choice, driven by fear of death and failure.

#7 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4867 posts) -

you hit the nail on the head with this blog post.

Kudos.

#8 Posted by Bestostero (2758 posts) -

morals smorals

Kick evil in the face and save the day, all the while looking awesome doing it.

Interesting idea, but Batman isn't anywhere near the evil part... sure he use scare tactics but he never kills, the fact that he was willing to save his arch nemesis (if you will) should say that.

#9 Posted by fetchfox (1338 posts) -

@The_Nubster: I still don't think he fears his own death, but you are right in that he lets his emotions get the better of him (especially later in the story). He only fights for his life so that the infected in Gotham will get a chance. He was never the selfish type, only extremely stubborn. He starts out being afraid of losing the battle of Gotham against the shitload of criminals on his tail, but ends up almost sacrificing everything to save his love. Even Batman can be irrational when beaten and pushed to the edge.

#10 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

@xhavoc86: I never said he was evil. During his time in Arkham City, his moral compass is malfunctioning. Through disease-induced fever dreams, his oncoming death, the threat to the woman he loves, and the risk of thousands dying at the hands of Strange and Protocol 10, Batman loses track of what he thinks is right and wrong. As the game progresses and things become more desperate, we see Batman fall apart and begin to lose what makes him who he is. He's still a ways off from evil, but he's miles away from his normal, righteous self, something brought on by the events of Arkham City.

@fetchfox: Absolutely. B-Man's only human, and Arkham City does a stupendous job capturing the flaws of Batman's human side.

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