For those that come here for storytelling advice, this isn’t a gaming post, I promise. If you haven’t played Arkham Origins or haven’t made it to the Gotham Bank yet…
Okay, anyway, after you beat the bank you find out the Joker was really been behind all the shenanigans this entire time. And I mean everything. He posed as the Black Mask, hired the assassins, all of it. You have never seen the Black Mask in person up to this point. I’ll give the game credit, they foreshadowed this and I truly didn’t see it coming. It was a decent surprise.
But I was disappointed.
I didn’t think the developers would do something this lazy. For the past two games, the main villain has been the Joker and that hasn’t been a problem. He’s the clown prince of crime after all, I expect him to be in a prominent role. The Mark Hamill Joker is also my favorite, scary and evil and funny with a wildly cinematic flair. But he’s had his screen time, even with all the other villains in the past two game, and Black Mask was lauded as the Big Bad for this title.
This is where the gaming part of this article ends and we start talking about storytelling.
There is such a thing as overusing a character and this move was a direct response to fear, fear that they wouldn’t be able to duplicate the results. That’s a true fear, you see it in the Dark Knights rises with Bane. No matter how well designed or acted he was, Bane was simply not as interesting a villain as the Joker. That said, it is lazy and stifling to reuse something over and over again until it’s done to death. The Dark Knight Rises was a disappointment for a lot of reasons, but it would have been a huge failure if the Joker had been the reoccurring villain.
I have characters, hero and villain, that I love. In my work as well as others. I have tried to populate my story with interesting people that will come in and out of Virgil’s life. At some point or another, I guarantee there will be people who will leave for good. They’ll die or bow out or something to take them out of the game. Because sometimes that’s just what needs to happen. Sometimes a character has done their job, done it even better than you ever imagined, and it is time for them to leave the stage. The temptation is always there for another encore, but any character can and will eventually outlive their welcome.
The Batman universe has great characters and so far I’ve really enjoyed their portrayal of many of the villains. I still have hopes for Black Mask playing a bigger part in the game and have faith that the developers could make him an interesting villain. I have faith in my self as well that I can create new characters. I’m not afraid to kill someone, because there’s always someone new in the queue to take their place.
Just ask Mr. Martin over there.