Batman: Arkham Knight - Who is the villain behind the mask?

A month after E3 and with San Diego Comic-Con nearly upon us, we take a look at the headlining villain in Batman: Arkham Knight and speculate on who could be under the mask.

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This year, Batman celebrates his 75th birthday and the occasion is being celebrated across a variety of mediums. Among them, of course, is video games, where Batman returns for his final go-around with Rocksteady in the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight.

With San Diego Comic-Con upon us and relatively fresh off his apperance at E3, now feels like a good time to explore the game's main antagonist and title character: the Arkham Knight himself. Warner Bros. and Rocksteady have been on-record noting that it would be an original character. However, there's clearly somebody hiding underneath this mask and it's somebody that claims to know who the Batman really is.

Based on my closed-door E3 presentation, it's clear that the identity of the Arkham Knight will be a central mystery that hovers over the whole game. So here are some prime suspects as to who may be masquerading as Gotham's newest villain.

Warning: Spoilers for Batman: Arkham City ahead!

Two-Face

Long-time followers of the classic Batman: The Animated Series will not find this idea so far-fetched. One of the show's final episodes saw Harvey Dent adopt a third personality, one devoted to dishing out cold-blooded vengeance under the facade of justice. With that in mind, it isn't unheard of that Dent would adopt another persona to make Batman's life miserable and it would partially explain how the Arkham Knight knows his nemesis so well.

This is very unlikely, however. Two-Face has already been seen as a central character in the game and was one of the first faces seen in the trailer. Also, it's made clear during the E3 demo that the Arkham Knight has trained in a secret Venezuelan military facility, going so far as to bring his militias to Gotham. This doesn't fit Two-Face's modus operandi at all, so all this would seemingly rule him out. Never say never, but don't hold your breath.


Clayface

This wouldn't be the first time that Clayface has performed an elaborate ruse, having made a living off of such acting jobs prior to his turn as a villain. Masquerading as a costumed vigilante would be Basil Karlo's greatest performance to date, even greater than the one he pulled on Bats at the end of Arkham City.

However, while Clayface has the capability to replicate a darker half of the Dark Knight, he comes off as another unlikely candidate. Once again, the reasoning is because of resources. How would Clayface assemble a Venezuelan army? Would he really go to all the trouble to bring in South American radicals just to get another shot at Batman? While the power set adds up, the motivation does not.


Ra's Al Ghul

Now we get into the more likely suspects. If anyone knows about assembling an army and doing it quickly, it's Ra's. He's already proven to be a criminal mastermind, a charismatic leader capable of leading armies of men, and is very familiar with Batman's history. Add his fighting prowess to that list and his constant ability to cheat death through his Lazarus Pits and you have one of the primary candidates for the man under the Arkham Knight mask.

There is something that rules him out, however, and that's the Arkham Knight's manner of speech. The Knight's dialogue came across as a bit less-than-dramatic and that's not Ra's' style at all. Ra's delivery is well-spoken and borderline-Shakesperean, putting him at sharp odds with the Arkham Knight that I saw on display at E3. At the end of the day, this might be what ends up scratching Ra's from this list.


Hush

The dark horse candidate, for sure, but one that absolutely makes sense. This choice stems partially from Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's classic late 90s Batman story of the same name. Hush is the alias of Dr. Thomas Elliot, spoiled childhood friend of Bruce Wayne's, who tried to murder his own parents in order to gain their vast wealth. His mother was saved by Bruce's parents, causing Elliot to carry a grudge against Bruce ever since. Elliot's vengeance would spread beyond Loeb's story, as he would pop up in later years and go so far as to use his plastic surgery skills to give himself Bruce's face in an effort to smear his reputation.

Elliot is one of the few characters that knows Bruce Wayne more than anybody and even knows his secret identity as Batman. Another reason he pops up on this list is because of an Arkham City side-mission that officially inducted Elliot into the Arkham-verse. Elliot, post-facial reconstruction surgery, hinted at events to come before mysteriously slipping off into the night with Bruce Wayne's face, never to be seen for the rest of the game.

With Elliot still at large and with a backstory that ties him to Bruce Wayne, he's definitely a character to keep an eye on. His name may not be as widely-recognized as other Bat-villains, but Hush is an early favorite to don the Arkham Knight mask.


The Joker

There seems to be something off about this idea. Namely, the fact that Joker was pretty definitively dead at the end of Batman: Arkham City. Of course, this is the world of comic books, where death means nothing.

In fact, Joker turning out to be alive would be perhaps the greatest prank he's ever pulled on his nemesis. There are a number of circumstances by which Joker could still be around and kicking, whether it's through Ra's' Lazarus Pits, a clone, a controlled breathing method, or any number of other strange comic book reasoning. It would definitely open an opportunity for Joker to head over to Venezuela and recruit an army.

So why take on a disguise as a Bat-doppleganger? It could simply be another of the Clown Prince of Crime's misdirects, fooling Batman into thinking he was a revenge-driven maniac, when really all he wants is to send Gotham into a new form of chaos. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that Joker tricked Batman with a cunning disguise that nobody saw coming.

One thing is for sure, though. A Batman game just doesn't feel right without The Joker, which is why he may be the heavy favorite to adopt the Arkham Knight mantle.


Of course, there's also the possibly that the Arkham Knight is...

An entirely new character

There's always a chance that Warner Bros. and Rocksteady do indeed mean that the Arkham Knight is an entirely new character. If this is the case, it'd be an interesting addition to the Arkham cast and one that adds an interesting twist to Batman's rogues gallery.

Batman has faced off against certified lunatics, gangsters, assassins, and even supervillains. This would be one of the first times that Gotham's protector has faced off against a terrorist from outside our borders. Taking down a fanatic with a near-fearless army of mercenaries would be one of Batman's greatest challenges, which would provide enough story in itself. It would also raise the question of how he's so familiar with Batman's history, but it'd be a mystery worth unraveling.

While many signs point to the Arkham Knight being a familiar face, let's not entirely rule out that he may indeed be an original creation worthy of adding to Batman's legendary roster of villains. We'll find out for sure when Batman: Arkham Knight releases in Spring 2015.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty

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    July 22, 2014 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Batman: Arkham Knight - Who is the villain behind the mask?.

    A month after E3 and with San Diego Comic-Con nearly upon us, we take a look at the headlining villain in Batman: Arkham Knight and speculate on who could be under the mask.

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      July 22, 2014 12:51 PM

      I have no way to justify it, but I'll guess the Jean-Paul Valley version of Azrael.

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      July 22, 2014 1:15 PM

      I'd be shocked if it isn't Hush.

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      July 22, 2014 2:00 PM

      wonder if it'll be Jason Todd and be Rocksteady's take on The Red Hood? something similar perhaps... i'd say that or just a completely new character and they tell his story in this game.

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        July 22, 2014 2:08 PM

        Jason Todd and Damian Wayne did both cross my mind. I didn't think it'd be anyone that hasn't already been introduced, but...maaaaaaybe.

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          July 22, 2014 2:14 PM

          Damian would actually make more sense. They've intro'd Talia in City and then Arkham Knight could be all like "oh hey dad".

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            July 22, 2014 2:41 PM

            That would be a pretty huge departure from Damian's character, though. Heretic, too.

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          July 22, 2014 2:37 PM

          I hope it's not the Joker.

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          July 22, 2014 5:56 PM

          This crossed my mind too. May not fit the character background, but not impossible.

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        July 23, 2014 5:15 AM

        It won't be Red Hood/Jason Todd, he's going to be in the DLC: http://i.imgur.com/8vqBYFk.png

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          July 23, 2014 6:14 AM

          holy shit, i hadn't seen that!! now i have to give in to the darkside and get it from gamestop :(

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            July 23, 2014 6:57 AM

            it's a leaked image, i think it was supposed to be revealed at comiccon

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      July 22, 2014 2:25 PM

      Haven't they been pretty clear that it is a new character?

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        July 22, 2014 3:03 PM

        "Arkham Knight" is a new character, but it doesn't mean that it's not an established character under the mask.

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          July 22, 2014 3:06 PM

          ^ This. They laid on the mystery waaaay too thick at E3 for this not to be the case.

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      July 22, 2014 3:38 PM

      It's me.

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      July 22, 2014 5:09 PM

      My guess... they're going to pull a Fight Club here.

      The Arkham Knight is Batman's Tyler Durden as caused by some hallucinatory drug.

      Think about it. He's a combination of Batman's worst sore spots. One, he trained in central america (which makes him similar to Bane). Two, he's kills (something Batman won't do). Three, he represents Arkham, a place that Batman visits quite often but which never truly makes a difference in the fight against super-crime.

      Hey there are some big holes in this theory but it has some legs too.

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      July 23, 2014 3:55 AM

      It's the Joker I bet.

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        July 23, 2014 5:34 AM

        This is my guess, what a better way to end the trilogy by bringing back the Joker in new form

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        July 23, 2014 6:12 AM

        I really hope it's not. That's been really over done especially since they introduced Joker in Arkham Origins by having him assume the black mask identity. No I would much rather see Hush. But what would be really awesome is if they introduced the Court of Owls and used the whole Bruce Wayne secret brother story line.

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        July 23, 2014 6:12 AM

        that would be such a shitty cop-out. Rocksteady deserves better than that... they've done such an amazing job with their games and they've been given the oppurtunity to create a brand new character. to have him end up being The Joker would be such a let down.

        Besides, they already pulled that "Surprise it's me, The Joker!!" in Origins. and i REALLY doubt Rocksteady is going to mimic anything from the game they weren't involved with.

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      July 23, 2014 9:04 AM

      I think it's the Penguin. He went on Medifast.

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      July 23, 2014 11:24 AM

      its D.A.V.E

      or a chick.


      you heard it here first