This article contains spoilers for Gotham Knights.
Gotham Knights lets players patrol Gotham City as Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood. Why them and not Batman? Well, Gotham Knights‘ story and gameplay revolve around the fact that Batman is dead. Gamers everywhere seem to refuse to believe that Batman is really dead in Gotham Knights, but it’s true. Those expecting to play as Batman in Gotham Knights need not apply.
While Gotham Knights’ campaign largely revolves around several ongoing investigations, the cause of Batman’s death lingers in the back of its main characters’ minds. Who killed Batman and why? Well, the answer to that question is both remarkably simple and strangely complicated.
The game opens with an epic and climactic battle between Batman and the caped crusader’s long-standing rival, Ra’s al Ghul. An arrow is poking out of Batman’s torso, but he fights through the pain. The characters seem evenly matched, but because of his injuries, Batman is losing ground. Plus, Ra’s is channeling the power of the Lazarus Pits to keep reviving himself. Not exactly a fair fight, but Batman isn’t exactly known for fighting fair, either.
Before Ra’s can finish him off, Batman activates bombs that are scattered around the Batcave. That contingency plan brings hundreds of tons worth of bedrock, mansion, and priceless family heirlooms crashing down upon the fighting foes. So while Ra’s al Ghul delivered what would be mortal blows to lesser men, Batman essentially finished what he started via mutually assured destruction. End of the story, right? Batman died by his own hand to make sure Ra’s couldn’t land a finger on Gotham, right? Well, that was just the opening act.
Fast forward to the end of Gotham Knights, where Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia al Ghul, reveals her master plan: bring Batman back to life with the Lazarus Pit. Oh, and to use the Lazarus Pit’s side effect of temporary insanity to flip Bruce Wayne’s moral compass and mold him into the next leader of the League of Shadows (sometimes the “League of Assassins” in other media). If that plot twist sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of the Batman Beyond episode Out of the Past, Both stories involve Talia al Ghul dipping Bruce Wayne in a Lazarus Pit, except in the show, Ra’s is pulling Talia’s strings and wants to encode his brain into a young Bruce’s body.
Getting back to Gotham Knights, the Lazarus Pit-induced insanity proves to be temporary, so Batman quickly comes to his senses…just in time to take a sword to the gut. However, even that injury still isn’t enough to kill Batman outright. If it were, he would have died long ago. In the ending minutes of the game’s closing cutscene, Court of Owls members and their Talon minions swarm the Lazarus Pit right before Batman crashes the Batplane into it. The resulting explosion wipes out most of the organization, the pit itself, and, of course, Batman. So, once again the answer to the question “Who killed Batman?” is “Batman.” In both cases, though, the League of Shadows (specifically, Talia and Ra’s al Ghul) obviously contributed to his demise.
Regardless, Gotham Knights demonstrate that even when Batman is out of his depth, he is too stubborn to die at anyone’s hand but his own. Not even one mutually assured destruction-fueled explosion is enough for him.