Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is clear about its intentions from the get-go. Your mission, which you have no choice but to accept as a member of Task Force X, is to kill the Justice League. Kill The Flash. Kill Green Lantern. Kill Superman. And, yes, kill the Batman.
But despite the clarity of the new Suicide Squad game’s title, it still seems a little hard to believe. Kill Batman? Kill him? Kill the star of Rocksteady’s trilogy of beloved, bestselling Batman: Arkham games? Surely this must be some alternate-universe Batman, right? Some sort of hoax?!
Sorry, but no.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and Batman: Arkham Knight.]
The narrative foundation of Kill the Justice League is that alien bad boy Brainiac has come to Earth with designs to conquer it. Brainiac not only mutates the populace of Metropolis into his soldiers, he gets a big assist from (most of) the Justice League after mind-controlling and manipulating them. With Brainiac’s plan working, government agency ARGUS enlists criminals from Arkham Asylum and Belle Reve prison to quell the alien uprising. Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Killer Shark are given superpowered gadgets and lots of guns to help them take down the league.
Second to last on their list is Batman, the same Batman that faked his death five years earlier in the conclusion of Batman: Arkham Knight. There’s a whole in-game museum called The Batman Experience in Kill the Justice League that explains why Batman gave up the ruse of his death and joined Superman in Metropolis. That museum also features a quick recap of the events of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, with exhibits dedicated to each of Batman’s major villains.
Batman has a big presence in Kill the Justice League. You’re tapped into his radio communications with Brainiac, so you hear late, longtime voice actor Kevin Conroy voicing an evil, Brainiac-possessed Batman through the game. And at one point, you watch a lengthy holographic recording of Batman/Bruce Wayne, ostensibly left for Robin, to explain to whomever views it how to take down the Justice League, including Batman himself.
Rocksteady makes it explicitly clear that this game’s Batman has turned to evil under Brainiac’s spell, and the only solution is death. That something that the only other uncompromised member of the Justice League — Wonder Woman — is trying hard to avoid. But the Suicide Squad? They have no qualms about killing Batman.
So, a little after halfway through the game, after Task Force X defeats Batman by gassing a Batcave-style hideout with Fear Toxin, that’s what they do. They take Batman’s broken-but-still-breathing body to Lex Luthor, who studies the Caped Crusader’s modified genetics, and then they shoot old Bats in the head. Harley Quinn does the deed. Of course, you don’t see Batman’s brains getting blown out in graphic fashion, but it’s clear to everyone involved that Batman is dead.
That said, Kill the Justice League is also a game about multiverses, or as DC likes to call them, Elseworlds. Just as there’s a new, younger Joker coming to town, there could be another Batman out there in the game’s multiverse, though the game does not explicitly hint at something like that. Of course, we should remember this is all rooted in comic book storytelling, where no one stays dead forever.
Rocksteady having Harley shoot Batman in the head feels like a metaphorical milestone for the studio, though. It completed its Batman: Arkham trilogy in 2015, and appears to have put that franchise fully behind it. For all intents and purposes, we should consider the Batman of Rocksteady’s Arkhamverse dead for now.
To drive that point home further, Kill the Justice League even ends with a tribute to Batman’s late voice actor. Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane delivers a post-game eulogy for Batman (but, somewhat strangely, none of the other fallen heroes from the league), that ends with the message “Thank you, Kevin.” It’s a melancholy ending, but it underscores the finality of Batman’s fate in this universe.
Whether there’s another Batman waiting in the wings, as hinted at by the secret ending of Arkham Knight, remains to be seen. We’ll see where Kill the Justice League’s Elseworlds go from here.