[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for ‘Batman: Arkham Origins.’]
We may have to wait until 2016 for Warner Bros.’ continuation of the interconnected Man of Steel universe with Batman vs. Superman, but we’ll still see a slew of DC adaptations: the CW’s Arrow is going strong, with spinoff series The Flash on deck. NBC will air a television adaptation of Constantine, and Fox has Gotham, based on the early years of longtime Batman ally James Gordon.
With a full two years to go before fans can see new Batman Ben Affleck in action alongside returning Superman Henry Cavill in Batman vs. Superman, the character’s enduring popularity translates into renderings across a variety of other media, in the form of DC’s ongoing straight-to-DVD animated adventures like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Son of Batman, as well as the popular, highly successful video game franchise.
The game series started with Batman: Arkham Asylum and continued with that game’s sequel Batman: Arkham City, last year’s prequel Batman: Arkham Origins and will supposedly conclude with the upcoming PS4/Xbox One release Batman: Arkham Knight. Last year, DC announced it would release two animated features in 2014, the first being Son of Batman. We now have a trailer for the second of these, Batman: Assault on Arkham, which you can watch above.
Directed by Jay Oliva, who also directed the animated version of The Dark Knight Returns as well as Justice League: War and several episodes of DC’s Young Justice, Assault on Arkham is set within the same universe as the Arkham games. When the Joker somehow steals a dirty bomb and rigs it somewhere in Gotham City, Batman – again voiced by fan-favorite Kevin Conroy – must team up (or at least work in tandem) with Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad, which includes Floyd Lawton/Deadshot (voiced by Captain America: The First Avenger‘s Neal McDonough), King Shark and Harley Quinn.
As for where exactly within the overall narrative of the Arkham games this story takes place, we can assume after Arkham Origins but perhaps before Arkham Asylum. The end of Origins teased the formation of the Suicide Squad, with Amanda Waller recruiting Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke to join the team or rot in Blackgate Prison. This is assuming the animated film’s narrative directly takes off from that of the games – this feature may not be meant as a direct tie-in.
Jay Oliva is responsible for some of the best DC animated efforts in years, with Justice League: War being a clear standout. Since the Arkham game narratives stand apart from what is considered official “New 52” canon, Assault on Arkham will almost certainly also exist in its own continuity.
But with the inclusion of Kevin Conroy, who will forever be known as the voice of Batman for the ages, and Troy Baker as the Joker (returning to the role after an acclaimed turn as the villain in Arkham Origins), there are clear attempts to win over longtime fans of both the games and the animated releases. If fans take to this standalone vision, this would be a strong argument for a future live-action take on the Arkham game universe.
Batman: Assault on Arkham will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in the fall of 2014.