Feature: Great Batman Moments of the Last Decade
Posted by Dave Letcavage
Celebrating the release of Arkham Origins
As many of you may already know, Batman: Arkham Origins puts you in the suit of an inexperienced Batman as he fights for his life on Christmas Eve. Turns out the Black Mask has hired a handful of assassins tasked with one goal: kill the Bat. The idea of such carnage against the backdrop of a peaceful, snow-covered Gotham City is almost poetic, and the amazing juxtaposition between good and evil seems like it will make for a haunting experience.
Inspired by how memorable this premise sounds, before even getting our hands on the game, we’ve decided to take a look at our most unforgettable moments with the Dark Knight since he made his blockbuster comeback in Batman Begins. From comics to movies, and of course, video games, no medium was off limits. So without further ado, here are some of the memories and experiences deeply etched into our hippocampuses, we think, for a long time to come.
Batman vs. Mr. Freeze (Batman: Arkham City)
Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. What makes him so special is that he’s a man of convictions that relies on intimidation and intellect to bring down the bad guys. We like to think our favorite detective averts danger by relying on the three P’s – preparation, problem solving, and punches. All of these elements are part of what makes the battle between Batman and Mr. Freeze in 2011’s stellar Arkham City so memorable.
Taking down Freeze isn’t about brute strength, instead, it requires the player to slow down, assess the environment, and think like Batman. Not being able to approach head-on means stealth and planning are required. As Freeze walks around the iced-over police department hot on your heat signature, you must stay one step ahead by setting traps and luring him towards them. Generators can be manipulated to create a field of electricity, walls of ice can be crumbled with remote explosives, or you can hang from ledges and surprise your adversary when he moves past. There isn't any hand-holding as you're thrown into the situation with your utility belt left to survive by the means of your own tools. Even though Freeze does move slowly around the station, tension is always high and it's easy to lose track of what direction he may be coming from. It's a lengthy battle that left us emotionally drained by the end, but led to a grand feeling of accomplishment. It's been years since we've felt this rewarded for our resourcefulness while playing a video game.
Bank Heist (The Dark Knight)
Before heading to theaters to see The Dark Knight, we knew we were in for a bit of a crime drama and we knew that the Joker was to be a maniacal mastermind, but we didn’t know to what extent. This opening scene of a multi-man bank heist set the tone for the entire movie to follow, and gave us our first glimpse of the Joker, in all his glory. It was quickly made apparent that we were dealing with a twisted genius, yet his intentions were doused in ambiguity, keeping us guessing. The stirring score complimented the controlled chaos on screen as it tickled your nerves, keeping your mind alert and breaths shallow. It’s quite simply a brilliant opening to a movie, on every level.
What The Dark Knight as a whole ultimately proved, was that putting a man into a goofy suit on the big screen didn’t have to be cheesy or flamboyant; it could exist in the world of crime dramas like Heat or The Departed and offer a more evocative, cerebral experience than movies like Batman & Robin and Fantastic Four. It only took a brief five-minute introduction to convince the audience that The Dark Knight's lofty ambitions could be met, and that Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, was indeed going to be one for the ages.
Court of Owls (Batman - New 52 Comic Book Series)
"Beware The Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them, or they'll send the Talon for your head."
We can't even think about the Court of Owls and their creepy identity-concealing masks without chills running down our spine. What's scarier than the Joker, Scarecrow and Two-Face combined? History. All these years Batman thought he was watching over Gotham, when truth is the city and its history have been watching him. We don't want to divulge too many details about the plot, because this is a story arc we think every Bat-fan should experience firsthand. If you're not normally into comics, you can purchase the graphic novel in two parts instead of investing in the individual issues and spending much more money. Trust us, either way, it's absolutely worth it. This is not only one of the most effective and masterful combinations of writing and art we've enjoyed in recent years, but it's also one of the most gripping plots to ever exist in the pages of a comic book. Mysteries, grand revelations and eye-opening surprises change Bruce Wayne's world forever, and they shouldn't be missed. Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are Batman.
Spirit of Arkham (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
When you think of Arkham Asylum’s expansive cast of venomous villains, there’s one in particular that generally doesn’t get the credit it deserves – and that’s the asylum itself. With so many dark secrets and so much rich history, the gothic grounds feel like a living, breathing character with more complexities than your typical villain. Our favorite example of this was in the messages left on tablets hidden around the grounds by Amadeus Arkham, the founder of the asylum. These were delivered to the player in the form of audio journals in which Amadeus detailed his life and his descent into madness. We found these so intriguing that we searched every nook and cranny of the facility throughout the campaign to make sure we got the whole story. In the end, what you’ll learn is effectively off-putting, making you realize the walls of Arkham Asylum don’t just imprison evil, they also breed it.
Bane on a Plane (The Dark Knight Rises - Imax Prologue)
Whether you thought it was garbled or not, the moment we heard Bane's voice through our computer speakers, we were in love. It was mysterious and menacing, while his candor and calmness suggested his intelligence would be equally intimidating. Like we mentioned above, no one should've expected a villain that could top the Joker, but what we ended up with was something just about as good as it gets. Tom Hardy did an exemplary job bringing Bane to life and making the character his own. Who would've thought that a shaky hand-cam video on the internet would be enough to assure us of that?
Backflipping the Batmobile (Injustice: Gods Among Us)
The first time we encountered this super move our jaws were on the floor. After smashing down on the opponent with a smoke batarang, Batman beeps and boops away on his communicator before bringing a couple tasers to the victim's neck, then introducing skull to knee. And what would a super move be without yet another batarang worked into the mix, lending to disorientation. Wait, that doesn't sound all that awesome yet, does it? That is until the Batmobile flies onto the screen like a bat outta hell. Batman quickly performs a back flip over the vehicle as it smashes into the competition and runs them off screen. It's a pretty epic moment to occur mid-match, and one that we won't ever forget experiencing for the first time.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Animated Film)
Frank Miller's graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, is often regarded as one of the best Batman stories ever told. The plot focuses on a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne that has been retired from the role of the bat for about ten years. So long ago that Batman is referred to as myth. When an uprising street gang called the Mutants begins to ravage Gotham City of its peace, the aged billionaire dons the suit once again to protect his beloved city.
In 2012 this tale was adapted for a two-part straight to DVD movie, and it's actually a quite faithful translation of the comic book. Because such darker tones are explored, and Batman risks compromising the ideals in which he lives by, this is an even deeper and more intense piece of entertainment than most mainstream fans will expect. From the Joker slaughtering countless innocents without reason or regard, to a battle of egos with Superman, there are so many shocking moments to keep the viewer engaged and invested. If you're not opposed to flipping through a comic book, we suggest heading to your local shop and picking up the graphic novel. However, if that's not quite your thing, feel confident investigating this animated feature instead. The production can be a bit stiff at times, but overall it's a solid enough means to deliver this superb story to a broader audience.
Also, if you're interested in learning about key inspirations for Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, this would be the place to get started. The correlation between many of the themes and plot points should be clearly visible to anyone familiar with the blockbuster movies - especially the epic conclusion, The Dark Knight Rises.
A Symbol (Batman Begins)
"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol... as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting."
It was in this scene that Batman was reborn for a new generation – a success that has undoubtedly led to better movies, games and comics for us all. For that reason alone it's pretty darn hard to forget.
Of course there are numerous other incredible moments starring The Caped Crusader, but these are the ones that really left an impression on us. How do you guys feel about our choices? Do you have a similar fondness for any of these pieces of entertainment, or would you select much differently? Tell us about your favorite Batman memories from the last decade by diving into the comments below.