The lights are on
Batman is defined as much by his adversaries as any of his own identity. Look at the enemies he’s fought over the decades, and you’ll find a pantheon of foes, some funny, others terrifying, but all memorable. For the Arkham series, Rocksteady put its own twist on some of the Batman universe’s biggest villains. We’ve got a look at how some of those familiar faces have changed since we last saw them in Arkham City.
David Hego, the game’s art director says that one of the challenges that his team faces with each Arkham game is putting a fresh spin on returning characters. “We tried to add something to the characters, so you’re still excited about them even after meeting them for the third time,” Hego says. “How can we make these guys exciting, even after seeing them again? Every time, we make them look better and better and better, but at the same time, how can we improve the story behind them?”
Scarecrow is the mastermind behind the chemical attack on Gotham City in Batman: Arkham Knight, but Rocksteady isn’t showing what he looks like these days. It’s safe to say his encounter with a toothy Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham Asylum likely left its mark, however. We did see three characters returning from Arkham City, and they feature new designs. Here’s what you can expect.
Rocksteady’s interpretation of Penguin is far from the dapper, tuxedoed mastermind that fans saw from early comics and the Adam West show. He’s not as disgusting as Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the character in Batman Returns, but the Arkhamverse’s Penguin is still a gross-looking thug.
“In Arkham City, he’s a collector,” says lead character artist Albert Feliu. “He works out of a museum and he looks like he’s in the mafia.” Arkham City was set during Christmas, so most of the villains were bundled up. Scarecrow’s plot is appropriately timed for Halloween, which necessitates a wardrobe change. “This time, we went for autumnal mafia,” Feliu says, laughing. “We took the coat off, and the concept of Penguin was more of a dirty dude. Obviously his shirt is rolled up and sweaty, and he has food stains on it. But still, he’s really powerful. He’s got a golden chain, as well. We had to be a bit crazy with this character, and working with his design. And we shaved his head. He’s proper filthy, you know. It makes you want to punch him even more.”
"With Two Face, we thought he was a really strong character already,” Feliu says. Half of former prosecutor Harvey Dent was burned by acid, and his clothing has been modified to reflect his scarred exterior and interior. “OK, that was Arkham City; what can we do to make him look different, right? We just rolled up his sleeves and made him look really next-gen. We took some references of really filthy, burnt flesh – which is what we do most of the time, which is quite cool – and tried to make him look as badass as we could.”
Ultimately, Rocksteady was happy with Two Face’s core design, so they didn’t feel the need to reinvent him for Arkham Knight. “He was already a really strong character, so we tried to push it, and keep going that way,” Feliu says. “We didn’t want to change it that much.”
Before Arkham Knight, the Riddler was almost as mysterious as the puzzles he sprinkled throughout Gotham City. “In Arkham City, you never really saw him that much,” Feliu says. “This time around, you see him throughout the game, and he evolves.”
If you’ve played Rocksteady’s Arkham games, you know how Batman’s appearance is transformed over the course of each adventure. His cape is increasingly tattered; slashes and gunshots mar his armor; and a five o’clock shadow spreads across Bruce Wayne’s clean-shaven chin. Not only will the Riddler get more actual screen time in Arkham Knight – emerging from the shadows to become a fully realized character – but he evolves over the course of the game as well. Rocksteady says the Riddler will unbutton his shirt, get covered in grime, and become visibly distressed as Batman continues to thwart his plans.
“It’s something we try to put in the characters,” Feliu says. “If you had to work overtime, for example, you would start the night with your jumper on and everything, and as the time went by you’d probably take your jumper off, open your shirt, take your tie off, have a coffee. The Riddler is a character who has a cool framework, and we didn’t want to change it too much – we like his shirts with question marks and silly glasses and greasy hair.”
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