I am hella excited for the next installment of the Batman: Arkham Whatever series. I love these games because you actually get to be the g#* d$@~ Batman, and it’s amazing. While they are not always perfect games, they’re certainly close, and I enjoy them more than Far Cry 3 style adventures or a Bioshock Infinite mindf*&%s.
Man, I sure am profaning a lot. Is that excitement?
Part of it has to do with my love of Batman. A love that, when you consider the character, shouldn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, do you ever think about how ridiculous it is that Batman seems normal? Aside from the dressed-as-a-giant-version-of-an-animal angle, there’s also the totem itself. Bats aren’t actually that scary; though, something about those ears do make his costume pop. Snakes are scary. Tigers, though a bit obvious, are scary. Spiders are scary. That last one is kind of weird because Spider-Man is not scary.
My point is the character is kind of goofy. He refuses to use guns even though, realistically, he would probably get shot to death on his first outing. I’ve already said quite a bit about Batman and more than a fare share of words on Superman, but within the continuity of the DC Universe, Superman actually makes more sense. The cannon clearly states he’s a bulletproof alien god. So when he doesn’t die it’s pretty believable. Batman is just a rich, crazy guy.
But I’m lost in the weeds. Getting back on track, I like Batman not because of his inherent awesomeness (in spite of the poor choice of animal totem) but because he’s so connected to my childhood. Batman: The Animated Series was on when I was seven years old, and barring Might Morphin’ Power Rangers, was probably my first love. And the same guy who voiced him then still voiced him up to the previous game, Batman: Arkham City.
I love Batman and the Arkham franchise, and this is why I’m wary of the upcoming changes. Abrams changed Star Trek from remake to sequel, and I didn’t like it. Community changed show-runners, and it wasn’t as good. Chris Nolan changed from someone who meets my expectations to someone who doesn’t. I changed into business attire, and it made me uncomfortable. Change is not always bad, but it opens up the risk of disappointment or even horror.
And changes there be. The studio that made the first two games in the series has been replaced by an in-house WB setup from Canada and the voice cast no longer includes any Batman: The Animated Series alums. And, I assume to bring the games in line with the current comic incarnation of the character, Batman isn’t wearing underwear on the outside anymore and now prefers body armor that actually looks like body armor.
Not to mention this is a prequel, which means all of the crazy shit that happened in the previous game, where like every character died, hasn’t happened yet, while at the same time locking all those same characters into a status quo to maintain the franchises continuity.
My first instinct is to express my trepidation in the form of complaint or frustrage. And then I start to think about what change actually means.
And this is the thing about change.
The Joker was right about “plans.” Not that they should be turned on their heads and we should just be crazy, but that we’re comforted by a sense of tradition or normalcy, even when the those things are kind of messed up. Case in point, consider Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s cover on Rolling Stone this week. Going way outside the original point of this article, the cover photo was a interesting decision. And without trying to solicit whether that was right or wrong, it’s sparked a conversation that I keep hearing.
First Person: I’m so offended that Rolling Stone is making this bomber look like a rock star.
Second Person: Well, there’s some historical precedent. Charles Manson and OJ Simpson have both graced the cover.
First Person: Really? *Googles controversial magazine covers* I guess it’s been done before. Huh.
There are some provisos: This is not every conversation that’s happening, but it’s one I’ve witnessed multiple times this week. I should also mention that I have not read the actual article the cover photo is featured as part of. Finally, and this one is important, none of the people in these conversations have been bombed. Apply salt as needed.
Once again in the weeds, I want to point out that the First Person is no longer deeply offended (slightly offended?) because there’s precedent. That strikes me as a strange reason not to be offended. Ubiquity doesn’t make something moral, but because we’ve experienced it before it’s less scary. And it really is about fear.
Aside from the literary faux pas of using an ultra serious, crazy-controversial example to explain why I hate the way a video game is changing, I think dealing with the future requires a little faith. Maybe not faith that everything will be all right, because sometimes it’s not, but faith in ourselves. Bad things happen and we have to work through them.
Some perspective wouldn’t hurt either. Sometimes just looking at what other people have to deal with makes us realize whatever we’re flame warring about isn’t that bad.