How a Canceled Batman Game Became Shadow of Mordor

A Batman game with Shadow of Mordor's famous Nemesis system? Why did that never see the light of day?

YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming? has released a report that reveals how a canceled Batman project was eventually used as the foundation for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

To make a long (and very interesting) story a little shorter, it seems that developer Monolith once worked on a Batman project that they hoped would eventually be based on Christoper Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. At the least, it seems they hoped to release their game close to the release of the film. Early prototypes for the project suggested it would eventually grow into an open-world experience that allowed players to participate in various side missions. Some compared the early design of the game to what we eventually saw in Insomniac’s Spider-Man for PS4

As you probably know, this project was never actually completed. Those close to the game debate about the specifics of what went wrong, but it certainly sounds like one of the biggest problems was that Christopher Nolan never officially approved of a tie-in between Monolith’s project and the Dark Knight films. Some say it’s because he was too busy to give the idea much attention, while others argue that the failures of previous games (which included a canceled game based on The Dark Knight) soured him on the whole idea of video game tie-ins. 

In any case, it seems that Monolith toyed with the idea of saving their Batman project by basing it more on the comics than the Nolan films. However, it sounds like there were some concerns about how closely such a game would mimic the ideas of the Arkham series, and the team’s hopes of developing a Batman game pretty much died on the spot. 

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Interestingly, Monolith was also working on a Lord of the Rings game at that time that was said to emphasize co-op gameplay and feature a dwarf and an elf as the playable protagonists. The game’s publisher apparently had some concerns about the viability of that idea, though, and requested the team go in a different direction. 

Again, there’s some debate about the specifics of what happens next, but it sounds like the LOTR team’s new approach to the game eventually incorporated many of the ideas featured in the canceled Batman project. Those ideas reportedly include the Batman game’s open-world technology, combat mechanics, unique enemy generation system, and the basis of what would eventually become the famous Nemesis system. Some even say that early versions of Shadow of Mordor used a model of Batman holding a sword as a stand-in for the game’s eventual protagonist. 

So yes, it sounds like there’s a timeline where we got to play a Batman game that’s basically Shadow of Mordor in Gotham City. It’s hard to argue against the Lord of the Rings and Batman games we eventually got, but it should go without saying that could have been an amazing experience. 

Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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