Tag Archives: Batman

Video Game Noir | Batman Arkham City


The video game noir Batman Arkham City was released this week, and my pre-ordered copy arrived like an angel in xbox 360 green.  Within the first five minutes I had goosebumps from the perfect timbre of Dr. Hugo Strange’s voice and the early appearance of the femme fatale Catwoman. The main story is a lightning paced buffet of the memorable villains and mainstays of the Gothamverse; brilliantly counterpointed by the new “side mission” system that truly introduces you to the basest elements of Arkham City. Within 72 hours I had beaten the main story arc, and was well on my way into the delectable extras unlocked by the accomplishment. Now, I eagerly divulge the noir elements of this noir comics staple turned video game noir- Batman Arkham City according to the noir definition:

1) The Seedy Underworld

Arkham City is a sprawling piece of old Gotham turned penitentiary by the twisted mind of Hugo Strange. All of the inmates from Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison have been inserted into the walled island, and told to fend for themselves. Derelict buildings, the frothing sea-front, and abandoned subways frame this haven of crime. This seedy underworld is absolutely noir.

Video Game Noir Batman Arkham City

via wccftech.com

2) The Anti-Hero

Batman, the dark knight himself, is the anti-hero of this video game noir. He is known as “the world’s greatest detective” and is referred to as such several times throughout the game. The character archetype of Batman is absolutely founded in the private eye/gumshoe detectives of the old noir crime fiction and film noir genres: Batman Arkham City is no exception. As a player, much of your time is spent piecing together clues and following the trail of events to their final (inevitable) conclusion.

3) The Femme Fatale

You would think Catwoman was the femme fatale, but she didn’t fit this role exactly. She seemed to be bored of Batman and he was utterly uninterested in her. Talia Al Ghul was more fittingly cast; she refers to Bruce as her “beloved” and she was identified as the only woman that he ever truly loved. The fact that he chases her around the plot is motivated to save and protect her in spite of her failings makes her the femme fatale.

Video Game Noir Batman Arkham City Catwoman

via digitaltrends.com

4) Misogyny

Every female character in the game is crafted by male defined sexual desire. Talia Al Ghul, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy are scantily clad vixens who exude sexuality. To their credit, each of these female characters have redeeming attributes: Talia Al Ghul is violent and powerful, Catwoman has a well developed personality, Harley Quinn becomes a villain in her own right, and Poison Ivy is a petrarchan monolith (cold and utterly unobtainable). The tragedy in these characters is that they are still wholly male defined.

5) Redemption

The entire Batman mythos is founded upon the pillar of redemption. Bruce must redeem himself from not the guilt of allowing his parents to be killed. Also, as a detective, he “redeems” each crime by exercising intellectual control over it: knowing how it happened. Thus, even though he was unable to stop the initial crime from happening, knowing the details of its execution and punishing its perpetrators spiritually redeems him. Herein lies the tragedy of Bruce Wayne’s story, for he will never be redeemed. Without dropping any spoilers, I would argue that Batman Arkham City is the story of the Joker’s redemption. As you play, ask yourself, “How important is the Joker to the story of Batman?”

Video Game Noir Batman Arkham City Riddler

via gamingexaminer.com

6) Loss of Innocence

The Riddler’s little game with the lives of several hostages comes across as very sick and twisted. Batman finds himself in “riddler rooms” whose chief purpose is to force the dark knight to cause the death of the captive. These deaths are sadistically engineered, and the penalties for Batman’s failure as swift and irreversible. Listening to one captive be blow torched alive was enough to place the Riddler in this “loss of innocence” category.

7) Eroticism

The only instances of eroticism within this video game noir are as follows: Talia Al Ghul bares her middriff, Poison Ivy doesn’t wear any pants (just little green panties), Harley Quinn’s thong is whale-tailing, and Catwoman’s suit exposes her deep cleavage. Selina Kyle’s catsuit becomes more sensual and erotic the longer that you play, because a multitude of snags and tears reveal the delicate skin beneath by degrees.

Video Game Noir Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn

via attackofthefanboy.com

8 ) Blaxploitation

The only black characters are the inmates that Batman pounds in the streets.

9) Smoke

The Penguin enjoys a stogie and several inmates often talk of their desire for “a smoke.”

Batman Arkham City is one of the best video game noir examples on the market. Get it at Amazon.com.

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Noir Comics | Batman’s Gotham Noir

Noir Comics Batman's Gotham Noir Cover

you had me at Brubaker...

Here is a delicious noir comics announcement from ifanboy:

DC is finally reprinting the classic Elseworlds story from 2001 by the creative team behind Criminal. The story is set in Gotham City in 1949 and stars hard boiled private detective Jim Gordon, and if you’re a fan of Brubaker and Phillips’ work on Criminal picking up this one is a no-brainer. If all of that’s not enough, I highlighted this book on one of our vault video shows way back in the first year of the show, back when we were young and fancy free and didn’t have professional lights. Check it out.

I’m a bit hesitant still, even though Batman’s Gotham Noir looks amazing, Brubaker in 2001 is a far cry from Brubaker now. I recently read some of his earlier noir stuff and it really doesn’t hold a candle to his newer entries. For example: I didn’t like Sleeper….GASP! Are you surprised? don’t be, it’s way over-hyped and underdeveloped. Especially if you’ve read Incognito, which is extremely more enjoyable as a noir comic. Nevertheless, I’ll be purchasing, reading and reviewing this one soon. Thanks for the tip Zach S. !

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Video Game Noir | Batman: Arkham City Catwoman Announcement

I could not resist posting this video game noir announcement. Batman: Arkham City will feature a PLAYABLE femme fatale Catwoman. How modern noir of them:

Making Catwoman a playable character was yet another great decision from Rocksteady. Do these guys ever mess up? I’m very pleased with the art direction of this game, because it’s absolutely noir in every way shape and form (don’t believe me? check the noir definition). The boys at Rocksteady seem to have nailed Catwoman’s sexy, sultry, and edgy nature in a way that would make any femme fatale blush. Although I admit its pretty easy to be sexy when you put a body like hers in a cat suit.

“With Catwoman we get a brilliant character who will allow gamers to indulge in a darker side. With Catwoman, you can take a walk on the wild side and take a break from being the defender of Gotham.” -Dan Gix, Rocksteady Games

From my own comic book knowledge, Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman has always been a foil to Batman’s character. She represents one of the only women that Bruce Wayne ever truly loved, yet he rarely brings her into his confidence because of her criminal nature. He struggles to accept her fully because she breaks the law and his allowing her to continue doing so makes him a hypocrite. The give and take between their two characters is further complicated by the fact that Catwoman is very attracted to Batman but her feelings are not the same for Bruce Wayne. Now, in Batman: Hush Batman reveals his true identity to Catwoman, so I am interested to see if the storyline in Batman Arkham City takes place before or after that event.

The fact that they have made her into a playable character in this video game noir raises several questions for me: Where is Batman going to be while this is happening? Is she going to be a heroine, or a villainess? I love that they are giving her a meatier role than just femme fatale eye candy! Anyone else feel like this bodes well for the storyline of Batman: Arkham City? I do.

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Noir: Illusions of Order in Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum was released in August of 2009 and quickly shot to the top of the charts. Written by Paul Dini, the game has garnered the attention and respect of the video game entertainment community the world over. Arkham Asylum was even awarded a Guinness World Record for being the “Most Critically Acclaimed Super Hero Game Ever.” Yet aside from all the accolades and acclaim, Batman has been and forever will be fundamentally noir (or an odd version of crime fiction or detective novel). Some may argue that a video game (let alone a Batman game) is not a noir compatible medium, but we may see the day when it is the very best medium for the genre.

Video Game Noir Batman Arkham Asylum

me and my copy, I'm dead serious about this game.

I recently played through Arkham Asylum (my second or third time through) and I was shocked by the heavy-handed use of noir in the game! Sure, there are sexy femme fatales throughout the story (think Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy) which shout noir genre, but I am talking particularly about the themes of redemption and the illusions of order. Your job in this game is to return the asylum to its original state, that of order and control, while the joker’s role is to act as a catalyst of chaos. In this way you are attempting to redeem the island of Arkham through placing villains back in custody and eluding the traps that they have set. Everything in this game is geared towards inciting the player to retake control and order; from the Riddler’s hidden clues that the player must collect and solve, to the rescuing of various helpless hostages, and the upgrading of weapons, armor, and abilities that Batman earns. Dean DeFino calls this “illusions of order” and “intellectual control.” He says that “the story redeems that sense of order and control by (fictionally) exposing its logic, its cause-and-effect chain, how one thing leads to another.” I cover this in more detail in my noir definition: redemption post.

Noir Femme Fatale Batman Arkham Asylum

Harley and Ivy, classic femme fatales for a classic noir

The most genius aspect of the inception of video game noir is the fact that it causes the player to be drawn into participation. No longer do we watch the detective struggle to redeem the crime scene, but WE are the ones daunted by the task. We feel the violation of order intimately, and we instinctively thirst for “intellectual control.” In this way, players of Batman: Arkham Asylum experience noir in way completely unique to the genre. I’m SO excited to see the next iteration of the game, Batman: Arkham City, who knows what the development team has in store for us…

I bought my copy from Walmart!

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