Hey there, kids! Dr. Ray Carsillo, Associate Professor of Superherolgy here for EGM. Today, we’re going to speculate as to what villains the Dark Knight may face in his upcoming game, Batman: Arkham Origins.
Along with a slew of screenshots, plot information leaked yesterday that Black Mask has called eight of the world’s greatest assassins to Gotham and put a massive bounty on Batman’s head. We know for sure that Deathstroke is, unsurprisingly, one of these assassins from those screens. But who are the other seven? Here are my best candidates for the job:
First Appearance: Batman #59 (June/July 1950)
Real Name: Floyd Lawton
Bio: Originally appearing in Gotham under the guise of helping Batman, Floyd Lawton actually had a grand plan to replace the Caped Crusader and then use the vacuum of costumed do-gooders to establish his own stranglehold on the Gotham underworld. This failed, of course, and when Lawton finally broke out of prison, he decided to become an assassin-for-hire instead. Consistently proving that he never misses, Deadshot quickly becomes one of the best assassins in the world, but frequent marks in Gotham has seen him cross paths many times with Batman over the years. His constant trouble with the law has led to several stints with groups like the Suicide Squad to put his skills to more noble uses while also trying to get shorter jail sentences.
Powers: Expert marksmanship
Why He Might Appear: Having already been part of an Arkham game increases the likelihood of Deadshot appearing. He’s one of the best-known assassins in the Batman mythos, and the huge bounty would play to the character’s more basic traits. Also, if the developers wanted to touch upon his origins, with the Penguin and Black Mask also being seen in screens, there’s a good chance for strong mob undertones to the game. If Deadshot wants a slice of the underworld to himself, this Batman Bounty would prove a perfect excuse for him to come to Gotham and try to weasel his way into one of the premier organizations before starting his own.
First Appearance: Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #5 (December 1975)
Real Name: Sandra Woosan (or Wu-San, depending on the writer)
Bio: Born and raised in a shantytown protected by Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, Lady Shiva grew up around martial arts. After fleeing the village with her sister at a young age to pursue a better life in America, Shiva continued her training into adulthood before being tracked by David Cain, one Ra’s al Ghul’s best assassins. In order to free her mind from restraints she didn’t know she possessed, Cain killed Shiva’s sister. Realizing that Cain was right—that she needed to let go of everything, including her family, to reach her true potential—she entered into the League of Assassins with Cain and bore his offspring. This child would go on to become Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl (third if you count Betty Kane, but most don’t). After Cassandra was born, Shiva abandoned the girl and continued her quest to reach her full potential, often fighting on both sides of the law to fulfill her personal wishes.
Powers: Martial arts grandmaster, expert in reading body language to predict opponents’ moves
Why She Might Appear: In a game revolving around assassins, the League of Assassins would need some sort of representative. Although I’m sure Ra’s al Ghul will also likely appear somehow, he rarely does his own dirty work and often employs people like Lady Shiva to do it for him. David Cain, Shiva’s lover, is also a possibility but less likely due to his niche status in the Batman mythos. Therefore, Shiva’s easily the best-known candidate. Her past of both helping and attacking Batman could be an interesting side story—maybe even to set up a trap in the game—since Lady Shiva’s best-known story arc is the one where she helped train Batman back to full strength after Bane broke his back in the Knightfall story arc. On several occasions, though, she’s tried to kill several members of the Bat-Family.
First Appearance: Justice League of America #94 (November 1971)
Real Name: Depending on what media he appears in, Merlyn has a bevy of first names, including Tommy and Malcolm, with Merlyn always serving as his last name.
Bio: Once known as Merlyn the Magician, he was a world-class archer who fell out of the limelight after one great public archery contest against Green Arrow. Leaving the contest simply as archery rivals, Merlyn appeared many years later as a member of the League of Assassins, charged with killing Batman. Green Arrow prevented the attempt, however, and Merlyn was ousted from the League because of his failure. While at the League of Assassins, Merlyn also had a hand in Cassandra Cain’s training.
Powers: Master tactician, archer, marksman, and hand-to-hand combatant
Why He Might Appear: Even though he’s best known as a Green Arrow antithesis, Merlyn’s recent history has been heavily interwoven with Batman, especially now that he was last seen working with Talia al Ghul again. If the League of Assassins does make its presence known in the game aside from Lady Shiva, Merlyn would make an interesting villain to bring along under the League of Assassins banner. Not to mention it could lead to a Green Arrow cameo, whom DC and Warner Bros. have both been pushing heavily recently.
First Appearance: New Year’s Evil: Prometheus #1 (February 1998)
Real Name: Unknown
Bio: The son of two criminals who traveled the country committing numerous acts of theft and robbery, Prometheus watched from the sidelines as his parents provoked the police—until the cops had no choice but to gun them down in an alley. At that moment, he vowed to take revenge against all forces of “justice” that he might come across.
Powers: Variety of gadgets and weapons, peak human physical and mental ability
Why He Might Appear: Meant to be Batman’s perfect mirror image, Prometheus offers up an interesting battle that we see in many games, where the hero must face him or herself to advance (Dark Link, anyone?). Although Prometheus has a large sum of money due to his parents’ various stashes, he often meddles himself in mob affairs to garner more power. Again, with the mob angle clearly coming into play with Black Mask and Penguin’s respective presences, Prometheus might see this as the perfect time to confront his do-gooder equal while inserting himself into the Gotham underworld scene. Seeing as how all these assassins with underworld ties might possibly appear in the game, this could help introduce other mob bosses as well, like the Great White Shark, Carmine Falcone, Rupert Thorne, or Two-Face to go along with Penguin and Black Mask.
First Appearance: Batman #417 (March 1988)
Real Name: Anatoli Knyazev
Bio: Trained by a secret cell of operatives inside the KGB, the Beast was loyal to the Soviet Union and would do whatever it took to eliminate the targets he was assigned. His first encounter with Batman had KGBeast targeting 10 high-ranking officials inside the U.S. government in the hopes of crippling the “Star Wars” program. The Beast was mostly successful but failed to gun down his final target, then-President Ronald Reagan, after being thwarted by Batman. After this failure and the U.S.S.R. dissolving, KGBeast turned to a more traditional life of crime.
Powers: Prosthetic gun in place of left hand, enhanced physique due to cybernetics, explosives expert, extraordinary hand-to-hand combat skills
Why He Might Appear: The leaked info says that these are the best assassins in the world, and by the time he first met Batman, KGBeast had already successfully assassinated over 200 targets. His unique weapons—and considering the game is set in the past—could allow for KGBeast’s first appearance story to be mostly explored, especially as the game looks to have an open-world feel similar to Arkham City but twice as big. At the very least, it could be an interesting side mission to have high-ranking political figures in town—and Batman having to stop them from being killed by KGBeast.
First Appearance: Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (January 1993)
Real Name: Unknown
Bio: Born and raised in a prison his entire life, Bane’s natural skills allowed him to survive and later thrive under the harsh conditions. Building up his body in the prison gym and learning as much as he could, Bane quickly dominated everyone in the courtyard to become the unquestioned “king.” Seeing his potential, prison controllers felt he’d be perfect for an experimental drug called Venom. Using his new-found superstrength, Bane escaped his prison home and made a beeline for Gotham City, feeling it his destiny to break the Bat.
Powers: Master of disguise, photographic memory, expert strategist, Venom usage gives him superhuman strength
Why He Might Appear: Bane’s another character who’s already appeared in the Arkham games. If Warner Bros. Montreal decides to tap into a little bit of the Batman: The Animated Series mythos, it would be easy to make Bane an assassin-for-hire type, as well as a mastermind in his own right. This would explain what would bring him to Gotham in the first place, and since his own origins in the Arkhamverse haven’t really been explored, this could be the time to do it. Plus, he’s another big name from the Rogue’s Gallery and could really help complement Penguin and Black Mask. And let’s not forget that Bane is at an all-time high in terms of popularity due to last summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, and seeing him in a more traditional comic-book setting might be just the thing to keep his villainous momentum going.
First Appearance: Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight (March 2009)
Real Name: Michael Washington Lane
Bio: An ex-cop, Michael Washington Lane is approached by the Order of Purity when the former Azrael went mad and killed an undercover cop. Dressed in holy relics that speak to him—and after undergoing numerous purification rituals by the Order—Lane has lost some of who he once was, but his personal sense of justice is still his primary driving force, which has led him to be both an ally and an adversary to Batman.
Powers: Artificially enhanced physiology, specially armored costume
Why He Might Appear: I chose the more recent incarnation of Azrael—not the original from the early ’90s in Jean-Paul Valley—because Lane is another figure who’s appeared in the Arkham games. It makes sense for this version to be used here, because instead of trying to teach people about two different men as the same character, you create a bit of a new backstory for him in the Arkhamverse. All in all, this would be a lot simpler—and more interesting. Azrael’s always been a character who lives in that gray area and whose methods are too extreme for Batman to use himself; his religious undertones also make him a bit of a lightning-rod character. This could also lead him to believing that Batman is some sort of devil or demon—and that by purging him from the world, he’d be doing his holy duty, instantly providing a bit more depth in terms of character motivation beyond “I want to get rich and famous.” His character’s also susceptible to being easily manipulated—and he has a history with Ra’s al Guhl as well because of this.
What do you folks think of this list? Who do you think should be on here? What non-assassin villains do you think will crop up? Are you excited for Batman: Arkham Origins? Let us know with comments below!