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An Arkham Knight Sequel Could Still Happen (As Batman Beyond)

Recent leaks for the canceled Batman: Arkham Knight sequel rumored to have been developed by WB Games Montréal have generated attention for the abandoned game, but while its Damian Wayne concept was unique, it would've been better as Batman Beyond. While Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League continues the Batman: Arkham timeline, Batman doesn't appear to have a significant role in the story and isn’t a playable character. The next Batman-centric title from WB Games is Gotham Knights, where players can choose between Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin as playable characters. However, there’s still an opportunity to revive Batman’s involvement in WB Games’ DC titles by rebooting Project Sabbath in a new, futuristic form.

According to information gathered from the various concept images for WB's canceled Batman: Arkham Knight sequel, the game would have explored the next chapter in Gotham City’s lifetime. Though Bruce Wayne’s ‘death’ put a temporary end to the Dark Knight, his work in vigilantism continued until he reached a ripe old age. Similar to Batman Beyond, Project Sabbath would have explored Damian Wayne’s chapter as Batman, with Bruce acting as a mentor figure. Characters like Duela Dent and a fresh take on Black Mask suggested unique twists on classic Batman villains that could have extended the series’ lifetime. Despite Project Sabbath’s cancellation, there’s still a chance for a sequel to be created.

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While the latest installment of the Batman: Arkham universe is the Suicide Squad game, the series could still continue in Gotham City with a future entry. Batman is one of the most prolific characters in comic book history, and while the Batman: Arkham games have explored many chapters of his life, there are many other characters and stories to develop. Video games have a unique opportunity to produce hundreds of hours of content for players to explore, an undertaking beyond what television shows and movies are capable of. Thousands of amazing Batman stories exist, but a game adaptation of the Batman Beyond animated series could be in Batman: Arkham’s future.

Original plans for WB’s canceled Project Sabbath focused exclusively on Damian Wayne’s journey as Batman. The father-child narrative has seen extreme success in games like God of War and The Last of Us. Project Sabbath may have pursued a similar formula for Damian and Bruce Wayne’s relationship. Damian Wayne is a recent addition to the Bat Family, being Batman’s only blood son in the mainline comics, but his attitude can be abrasive. Unlike the other Robins, Damian Wayne was initially cruel, malicious, and had a terrible attitude towards most vigilantes. Initially raised by the League of Assassins, Damian struggled with his lethality until he learned from Batman and Nightwing’s crime-fighting methods. Although Damian Wayne has his fans, he's also a more divisive Batman sidekick, despite his growth over various comics, movies, and TV shows. Thankfully, Batman Beyond offers a much more suitable alternative.

Though WB Games had set plans for Batman: Arkham Knight's canceled sequel, it could instead take inspiration from Batman Beyond, one of the darkest and most inventive takes on Batman seen in the fan-favorite DC Animated Universe. Batman Beyond introduced Terry Mcginnis as Batman’s successor, decades after Bruce Wayne hung up the cowl due to his declining health. Like Damian, Terry is a flawed character, but instead of being raised by the League of Assassins, he spent time in juvie thanks to coercion from a former friend. His immaturity and inexperience are two significant hurdles that stand in the way of Terry truly becoming Batman and add to his charm.

Related: Suicide Squad: Batman Arkham Villains Kill The Justice League Needs

Each Batman: Arkham game emphasized Bruce’s emotionless response to most challenges and his effectiveness in combat, leaving players to control a less than well-rounded depiction of the character. Though he experienced some development with Robins and other companions, Batman’s character arc featured little development for the Dark Knight himself. Thankfully, Terry McGinnis could offer alternatives for this formula and introduce a Batman that needs real growth.

Batman: Arkham Knight's canceled sequel concept art portrays Gotham City as emptier than previous Batman: Arkham games, with buildings like Wayne Tower decrepit and abandoned. Foreboding messages left by Gotham’s citizens spell out warnings like “The End Is Here,” and the city has become darker and more dangerous, mirroring the apocalyptic Damian Wayne Batman comics written by Grant Morrison. While these designs show the progression of time, it lacks the bustle players had previously wanted to see in the Batman: Arkham games. Exploring a new era of in-game locations can be interesting, but the differences between maps must be drastic enough to make Gotham City meaningful again. Batman Beyond’s futuristic setting could provide a vital element missing from Project Sabbath’s concept art, injecting more life and energy into the city, and making for a fresher, more memorable experience.

Batman Beyond takes place in Neo-Gotham, where much of the city’s grime and weathered buildings have been replaced with sleek, modern architecture combined with technology in the vein of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Though Batman’s ‘death’ in Batman: Arkham Knight resulted in Bruce Wayne’s departure from a double life so he could dedicate himself totally to vigilantism, it’s likely Wayne Enterprises continued to operate in some capacity. Many conflicts within Batman Beyond focused on Wayne's struggle to reclaim his company from Derek Powers, the CEO and supervillain who murdered Terry McGinnis’ father, Warren. Though Bruce Wayne’s life came to an end, the good he did as a billionaire could have continued improving the city he loved. Instead of portraying Gotham City as a desolate wasteland beyond saving, a Batman Beyond sequel to Arkham Knight could provide Batman with the solace of having improved Gotham tangibly, and provide a more hopeful mission for players to work to.

Working with a popular franchise places severe expectations for game developers, and adapting Damian Wayne into an Arkham Knight sequel could have drastically divided Batman fans. While Damian has his detractors, many others are fond of the complicated Robin. However, beginning Damian’s journey as Batman threatens to undermine many essential steps in his character development. Additionally, the expectations for Damian’s growth could veer sharply from Batman: Arkham’s source material. Various character iterations have embraced different levels of good and evil, leaving WB Games or Rocksteady in a precarious position to satisfy fan expectations. While Damian Wayne has experienced many variations in comics, shows, and movies, Terry McGinnis and Batman Beyond would potentially have more freedom in game form.

Related: What WB Montréal's Secret DC Game Might Be

Batman Beyond was only on air for a few years, eventually coming to a satisfying conclusion in the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Epilogue", in 2005. The Batman: Arkham universe could adapt its own form of Batman Beyond, exploring Terry McGinnis’ double life as a high school student and budding vigilante while also passively advancing the story of other heroes through worldbuilding. The show’s contents didn’t explore the entirety of Terry McGinnis’ Batman adventures, allowing WB Games or Rocksteady to explore unwritten chapters of the next Caped Crusader. New technology and mechanics could be adapted to make the experience even more unique, setting it apart from the majority of Batman's other depictions in different media.

Whether WB Games will develop a Batman Beyond sequel to Batman: Arkham Knight is unknown, but WB Games Montréal may be working on another Batman project after Gotham Knights. Whether this title serves as a continuation of the Batman: Arkham series is unknown, but fans can hopefully look forward to plenty of content for DC’s Dark Knight in the coming years. The next Batman projects from Rocksteady and WB Games Montréal are Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and Gotham Knights, both scheduled to release in 2022.

Next: Every Crime Batman Commits In Arkham Knight

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