A Joker Retires As A King

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(SPOILER ALERT! The following column will include spoilers regarding the single player campaign of Batman: Arkham City. If you have not finished the game yet, I suggest you hit the home button in the corner and check out some other content here at GiN. You’ve been warned, and the game really is cool. I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Plus, Chella is working on a full review of the game that should run very soon.)

Last night I finished the main story of Batman: Arkham Asylum. For a game that I waited almost two years for, and the follow up to my choice for the 2009 Game of the Year, I walked away from it more than pleased.

The story is classic Batman: the Animated Series material, the voice acting top notch (well most of it. I was a little disappointed with Harley Quinn) the fighting was more than satisfying, and yes there is tons more to uncover. In fact, even with finishing the main story mode, the game was only 37 percent complete. I guess that including a New Game Plus feature helps out.

But still, something about Arkham City’s end hit a little hard. Sure we’ve seen the Joker die many times before and eventually become resurrected, but I never thought Batman would ever show any compassion towards him.

But then, even when dying from the Titan virus from the first game, Batman tells Joker that "even all that you would have done, I would have saved you." All this after he destroyed the rest of the cure that Mr. Freeze gave him.

Seeing Batman carry Joker’s lifeless body out of Arkham City, and Harley’s obvious reaction of shock, did hit me pretty hard. It was a truly bittersweet way to end a great game. But there was something I read before finishing the game that made Joker’s death make a lot more sense.

A week ago, Spinoff Online posted a tweet from Mark Hamill, who we all know lately not just as Luke Skywalker (and in my point of view, Christopher Blair from Wing Commander) but also the voice of the Joker since Batman: the Animated Series.

In a Twitter post, Mark wrote "Hello/Goodbye Joker. I enjoyed every minute behind the wheel of the Crown Prince’s crazy car. I’m going to miss him more than I can say!!"

You’re not the only one, Mark. We’ve seen great movie Jokers in Jack Nicholson and the late Heath Ledger, and now we have a great animated Joker. I will admit though I was never a fan of Cesar Romero’s Joker from the 60s TV series.

I really hope that whoever they find to replace you will be just as good, especially after what happened with Harley Quinn. No offense to Tara Strong, but you’re definitely no Arleen Sorkin. In fact there was a part in the game that made me ungag Harley, but I really didn’t want to.

I really hope should the Joker somehow be resurrected for the next Arkham game (and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that another game will be planned,) that he provides his own style to the character, in the same way Heath Ledger did his own take for The Dark Knight.

I just have that fear that it will be another Wing Commander moment all over again. How can someone commit such a crime against humanity by replacing Mark Hamill with Freddie Prinze Jr? No, I will never get over that!

I know the creative staff behind the Arkham series will not do something that horrid, but one still has to wonder.

Until then, thank you Mark. You did make your own version of The Joker a memorable character, and even with moving on, I hope Harley Quinn will still call Joker "Puddin’" even if the Joker told her NOT to!

Currently Playing: Batman: Arkham City (360,) Forza Motorsport 4 (360)

Waiting For: Modern Warfare 3 (360)

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