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We Finally Understand The Entire Batman: Arkham Story

In many ways, the Batman: Arkham series of games has become its very own universe. Though the series began as more of a standalone story, with Arkham Asylum following Batman battling some of his worst enemies within the walls of the titular sanitarium, that first game eventually grew into something far greater. With sequels, comic books, and even an animated film spinning off from Arkham Asylum, there's a lot of ground to cover. The Arkham series has gone on to tell its very own version of the Batman's life story, from his humble beginnings as a world-traveling martial artist to the apparent fiery end of the Dark Knight's career as a superhero and crimefighter. 


With that in mind, Batman's legend can be hard to track completely, so we've gone through the various installments of the Arkham franchise and put together a timeline of the major events in the Caped Crusader's quest for justice. Grab your grapnel gun and your explosive gel, and let's break into the Batman: Arkham saga.

In the beginning - Arkham Origins

Following the murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne was an angry young man. Left a fortune by his late mother and father, the young man struck out on his own to keep what happened to him from ever happening again. He traveled the world to learn the skills of a warrior and of a detective, eventually arriving in North Korea, where he found himself under the tutelage of a master of the martial arts named Kirigi.


It was Kirigi who taught him to use the power of striking fear into the hearts of his enemies. During this time, Bruce Wayne faced Kirigi's greatest pupil, a woman named Shiva, who would go on to plague Wayne in his future career as the Dark Knight of Gotham. The training that Bruce received during this time would inform the way he would wage his war on crime when he eventually returned to Gotham and took on the identity of the Batman. 

The Long Christmas Eve - Arkham Origins

Two years into Bruce Wayne's career as Batman, the costumed crimefighter was still something of an urban legend. Much of the public believed he was just a scary story told between criminals, but he was very real to the villains he faced night after night. Batman had just stopped a massive breakout from Blackgate Prison when he was faced with his deadliest challenge yet


On Christmas Eve, the crime boss known as Black Mask put a bounty on Batman's head. This led to several of the world's deadliest assassins, including Shiva (who was now a member of the ninja clan known as the League of Assassins), the hitman called Deadshot, the South American strongman Bane, and the mercenary called Deathstroke, seeking Batman out on Christmas Eve. However, after investigating Black Mask's affairs and a string of murders and robberies, Batman learned that the real Black Mask had been taken prisoner by a new player in town, a madman who impersonated the crime lord: a new villain named the Joker. Batman made his first public appearance as reporter Vicki Vale captured footage of him in pursuit of the Joker.


Batman's nemesis revealed - Arkham Origins

After a fiery battle, in which Bane nearly killed the Joker with a rocket launcher attack, Batman handed the Joker over to the police. Joker met his new therapist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, immediately taking an interest in her. This infatuation would lead to the birth of yet another of Batman's rogues: Harley Quinn.


Though Batman managed to defeat Deathstroke and most of the other assassins after him, Bane deduced his secret identity of Bruce Wayne. Following a brutal attack on the Batcave, Batman followed Bane to Blackgate, where the Joker had broken free and started a riot. Bane dosed himself with a super steroid that removed his memories of Batman's true identity and turned him into a monster. Batman forged an uneasy alliance with Gotham City Police Department Captain James Gordon, defeated Bane, and was able to stop the Joker before the Clown Prince of Crime detonated a series of bombs hidden throughout Gotham. 

Shortly after the Blackgate incident, a man named Quincy Sharp advocates for the reopening of the abandoned Arkham Asylum as a way of rehabilitating these new super criminals. Meanwhile, an imprisoned Deathstroke is invited to join some new kind of government-sanctioned team ...


The Bat, the Cat, and the prison break - Arkham Origins: Blackgate

Shortly after the Joker's incarceration in Blackgate Prison, there was yet another prison break. Batman encountered Catwoman for the first time, who appeared to have a hidden agenda, giving Batman conflicting hints and clues as he attempted to take down the criminals who had run rampant in the prison. After taking down Bronze Tiger, the Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker himself, Batman discovered Catwoman's true intent: she had been hired to retrieve Bane from the prison for a mysterious third party. 


Following Catwoman's defeat, a SWAT team finally breached the prison and took Catwoman into custody. Though they were unable to take Bane with them, this team absconded with Bronze Tiger and Deadshot, finally revealing the mastermind behind the entire prison break: Amanda Waller, the same woman who had previously recruited Deathstroke. It was strongly hinted that Waller engineered the entire riot as something of a recruitment drive for her new team. Unbeknownst to Waller, however, Batman had planted a tracker on her team's helicopter, with the intent of getting to the bottom of this mysterious new "Squad" once and for all.

The Suicide Squad - Batman: Assault on Arkham

Some time after Harleen Quinzel became the villainess known as Harley Quinn and had a falling out with the Joker, she was recruited by Amanda Waller to join Task Force X, also known as the Suicide Squad. Task Force X carried out deadly missions on behalf of the United States government in exchange for shortened prison sentences. Along with Harley, this version of the Squad consisted of King Shark, Killer Frost, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, and the hitman Deadshot. For this mission, Task Force X was drafted to infiltrate Arkham Asylum (now the place where Batman's supervillains were incarcerated) behind Batman's back in an attempt to stop the Joker from remotely unleashing a dirty bomb in Gotham City, potentially killing millions.


Posing as Black Spider, Batman went undercover with the Squad, assisting them in taking down the Joker and disarming the bomb. Following this mission, Deadshot was let loose, seemingly taking revenge against Amanda Waller as his first act of freedom. The Joker and Harley were returned to prison, but this would be far from the last time the two of them caused a ruckus within the Asylum's walls.

A death in the family - Arkham Knight: Genesis

During his years as the Batman, Bruce Wayne trained several proteges in the war against crime. First was Dick Grayson, who became Robin and later the solo vigilante Nightwing. Next was Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Police Commissioner James Gordon. Though she served as Batgirl for a time, a run-in with the Joker left her paralyzed, leading to her fighting crime in cyberspace as Oracle, Batman's eyes and ears. Though Batman trained a second Robin, Jason Todd, tragedy soon struck. 


Jason was seemingly murdered by the Joker, who sent Batman a video of himself torturing and shooting the boy. Feeling utterly abandoned upon learning that Batman had trained another Robin in his place, Jason was driven mad in a jealous rage, turning against his former mentor. The Joker was arrested again, but Batman never realized that Jason had actually survived the ordeal, held captive in an abandoned wing of Arkham Asylum.

Some time later, Jason escaped his imprisonment and, with the aid of Deathstroke, formed his own private militia for the express purpose of one day taking revenge on the Dark Knight for this perceived betrayal.

Joker takes the Asylum - Arkham Asylum

Roughly eight years after the events of Arkham Origins, Batman escorted the Joker back to Arkham Asylum after their latest battle. Unfortunately, with the help of Harley and several of Batman's other enemies, including Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, the Joker took over the Asylum, using it as a base to manufacture a super soldier drug called Titan. That night, with the help of Oracle, Batman also grappled with the Riddler's many puzzles and fought off a Titan-enhanced Poison Ivy. 


After Batman fought off a dose of his fear-inducing toxins, Scarecrow was presumed dead after a run-in with the monstrous Killer Croc. In a last ditch effort to defeat Batman, the Joker overdosed himself with the Titan formula, growing to titanic size and nearly killing Batman. The Dark Knight was able to vaccinate and defeat the Joker, but the nightmare was far from over. 

Following the takeover of the Asylum, Arkham's warden Quincy Sharp (who believed himself to be the reincarnation of the hospital's founder, the homicidal Jeremiah Arkham) seized the opportunity to put his plans in motion for a new kind of prison.

A new kind of prison - Arkham City

A portion of Gotham City was walled off and turned into the maximum security prison called Arkham City. In his public identity of Bruce Wayne, the Dark Knight spoke out against the new prison, claiming the conditions are dangerous and potentially deadly. In retaliation, the head of Arkham City, Dr. Hugo Strange, revealed to Batman that he knew his true identity and had the hero thrown into the prison with several of his enemies. Among these rogues were Deadshot, who had been hired to kill Bruce Wayne; Mr. Freeze, who had taken over the old police headquarters to use as his own personal lab; and Catwoman, who aided the Caped Crusader in putting a stop to Strange's plans.


Batman learned that the Joker had also claimed a section of this city for his own. Not only that, but the Joker's overdose of the Titan formula during the Arkham Asylum incident was slowly killing him. In an effort to blackmail the Dark Knight into helping him find a cure, the Joker and Harley Quinn injected Batman with some of the Joker's blood, dooming Batman with the same infection.

The Joker's last laugh - Arkham City

After receiving a cure for the Titan disease from a reluctant Mr. Freeze, Batman deduced the true villain behind Hugo Strange and the creation of Arkham City: R'as al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins. Talia, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul and Batman's unrequited love, allowed herself to be taken by the Joker in a bid to save Batman's life. During an explosive battle with Ra's al Ghul, Hugo Strange died and Ra's was left impaled on his own sword.


Batman raced to rescue Talia from the Joker's clutches and was tricked into battling the shapeshifting villain Clayface, who had taken to impersonating the Joker when the clown needed people to believe he had recovered from his ailment. Meanwhile, Talia was killed when the real Joker revealed himself and shot her. Attacking Batman one final time, the Joker accidentally destroyed the vial containing the last sample of the Titan cure. The Joker finally succumbed to his illness and let out one final chuckle as he died. Batman brought his fallen enemy's body out to a stunned public and then vanished into the night.

Harley Quinn's revenge - Arkham City

A power vacuum rose within Gotham's underworld following the death and cremation of the Joker. Harley Quinn stepped in to take over his gang, but even her own men were frightened by her new demeanor. Blaming Batman for killing the Joker (and apparently having suffered a miscarriage, losing the Joker's unborn child), Harley abducted several police officers and used them as bait to lure the Dark Knight into a final confrontation. Unfortunately, Batman hadn't been seen in a while. 


Concerned for his partner's safety, Robin searched for Batman with Oracle's help, eventually finding him captive deep within Harley's hideout. The two managed to defeat Harley and rescue the police officers, but Robin and Comissioner Gordon continued to worry about Batman's state of mind, as the Caped Crusader seemed more closed off than ever following the death of Talia. Little did Batman know, but his greatest challenge was still ahead of him ... and it would come from people he thought to be long gone.

The power of fear - Arkham Knight

About nine months after the Joker's death, Batman learned that the Joker had shipped vials of his blood to several hospitals. This had led to more people being infected and slowly taking on the Joker's characteristics. Batman quarantined them in a secret facility in Gotham, never revealing to his partners that he was also beginning to exhibit signs of infection.


On Halloween night, the Scarecrow returned to Gotham, tearing it apart with the aid of the Arkham Knight and his mercenaries. With the help of his allies, Oracle, Robin, and Nightwing, Batman battled several of his escaped enemies. Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon was taken captive by the Scarecrow. Batman, reeling from the effects of the Scarecrow's fear toxin, saw a vision of Barbara shooting herself that he believed to be real. Devastated and plagued by visions of the Joker, he formulated a plan to neutralize the Scarecrow's new toxin that blanketed Gotham City.

Though Robin tried to restrain Batman upon learning of the Joker infection, Batman managed to put his former partner in a holding cell so that he couldn't stop him from finishing things with the Scarecrow, once and for all.


The Knight is revealed - Arkham Knight

With the help of Poison Ivy, Batman was able to revive a massive tree that the former villainess used to clear out all of the toxins in the air. However, the city was saved at the cost of Poison Ivy's life, as she was overwhelmed by the toxins. After hearing that James Gordon was planning to kill Scarecrow to avenge Barbara, Batman went after him and was lured into a final confrontation with the Arkham Knight, who revealed his true identity to Batman: Jason Todd, the former Robin.


Jason was defeated by Batman, who still offered to help his former protege. Ashamed of his crimes, Jason fled the scene, setting the stage for one final fight between Batman and the Scarecrow. Batman and Gordon, who now also knew Batman's true identity, confronted the Scarecrow and learned that Barbara was still alive. Batman managed to get Barbara to safety, but the Scarecrow's men mobilized elsewhere in the city, taking Robin hostage. 

Using Robin's life as leverage, Scarecrow took Batman and Gordon to the ruins of Arkham Asylum and delivered an ultimatum to Gordon: unmask the Batman on live television or let Robin and many others die.

Batman unmasked - Arkham Knight

Gordon unmasked Batman, revealing his secret identity to the entire world. Relishing in his final victory against the Dark Knight, Scarecrow injected Batman with more and more fear toxin, incapacitating the hero right as the Joker's personality appeared to finally be asserting control over his body. 


Inside his own subconscious, Batman battled the Joker one final time, locking the remains of the villain's influence away in a dark corner of his mind, never to be seen again. His right mind restored, Batman fights off the Scarecrow's poison and defeats the villain. Though the Scarecrow was taken into custody and Batman's partners were finally safe and sound, the Dark Knight knew that his unmasking meant the end for his crusade as he knew it. Batman contacted Alfred and told him to prepare something called "the Knightfall Protocol." Even with the end looming near, there was still much to do before he could allow himself to rest.

Loose ends in Gotham - Arkham Knight

Following the defeat of their leader, the remaining members of Arkham Knight's militia found themselves under the command of Deathstroke, who was ready to settle his long-standing score with the Dark Knight. Though Deathstroke was soon defeated and apprehended in a battle between the Batmobile and the militia's armed drones, Batman found himself fending off the return of several of his former enemies, including the Riddler, who had taken Catwoman captive, and the League of Assassins, who had found a way of resurrecting Ra's al Ghul. After thwarting the League of Assassins and rescuing Catwoman, Batman was finally ready to make his grand exit. 


However, unbeknownst to the Dark Knight, there was a new vigilante operating in Gotham. Attempting to return to the side of good on his own terms, Jason Todd had taken the mantle of the Red Hood and began waging a lethal war against the Gotham City underworld. His first mission as the Red Hood culminated in him doing what Batman and the Joker never accomplished, as he tracked down and killed Black Mask.

The Knightfall Protocol - Arkham Knight

His identity compromised and his last few loose ends tied up in Gotham, Bruce Wayne returned to his home at Wayne Manor. Surrounded by reporters and onlookers, Wayne refused to comment on his activities as the Batman. He entered his mansion, which exploded mere moments later, seemingly killing the vigilante and his faithful servant Alfred. 


Some time later, Jim Gordon, now the mayor of Gotham City, prepared to attend the wedding of his daughter and Tim Drake, aka Robin. Elsewhere in the city, a monstrous vision of the Dark Knight appeared to a pair of criminals attacking an innocent family. While this scene ended the series on something of an ambiguous note, it appeared that the Batman had found some new way of continuing his war on crime, possibly utilizing the remnants of the Scarecrow's fear toxin. 

Bruce Wayne may be dead to the world, but he remained true to the promise he made when his parents were killed. Batman's mission will never end.