If you thought Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was the end of the Batman: Arkham saga, then it’s well past time you learned the truth about Batman—THE LEGEND OF THE DARK KNIGHT WILL NEVER DIE. This weekend’s Summer Game Fest revealed a story trailer for the new Meta Quest 3 virtual reality game Batman: Arkham Shadow, taking us once more into this generation’s most iconic iteration of the Batman.

We’ve already told you about how the core appeal of the Batman: Arkham saga is its role as the ultimate Batman simulator. It stands to reason then that literally putting you behind Batman’s eyes is the next logical step for this continuously unfolding saga. But what do the scant, cryptic details we could find in the Summer Games Fest story trailer tell us about this untold chapter of the Arkham saga? Let’s turn on our Detective Vision and look inside.


Arkham Shadow will not be a follow-up to Batman’s curtain call in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. But as Arkham Shadow demonstrates here, so many stories between each existing chapter of the Arkham saga remain open to explore. 2013’s Batman: Arkham Origins introduced us to a younger Dark Knight of the Arkham universe, voiced by a fervent Roger Craig Smith on a fresher crusade against the implacable evil that inhabits Gotham. Here, Smith returns to lend voice to this earlier iteration of Batman, complete with a costume blending details from his Origins outfit with that of his Arkham Asylum debut to suggest a transitional period between those points. There’s a healthy time gap between Origins and Asylum which remains largely unexamined, one which we see Shadows slots into quite nicely.


The debut of the main villain of this story trailer is underscored by an instrumental cover of “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” the grunge anthem which attests that despite all our rage, we are still just a rat in a cage. No villain explicitly named the Rat King has ever existed before now, but he appears to draw on at least one previously existing villain of Batman’s prodigious rogues gallery: Ratcatcher, the exterminator-turned-rat-training-supercriminal (briefly, yet memorably played by Taika Waititi in 2021’s The Suicide Squad).

The Rat King’s manifesto appears to coincide with anti-authoritarian graffiti to match his “world is a vampire” anthem, alongside the abduction of law enforcement figures such as Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent. (Still pre-transformation into Two-Face.)

While so many great Batman mysteries lean on Batman: The Long Halloween as a blueprint, the anti-law enforcement tone of the Rat King’s rise calls to mind its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory. There’s no shortage of reasons for vendetta against Gotham City’s cops and their allies on either side of whatever moral lines one might draw. Whoever he is, the new name can’t be a coincidence—there’s an angle that Camouflaj and Oculus Studios are bringing to this villain which we can assume has never been explored the same way before.


In addition to the disappearance of men important to Batman’s life like James Gordon and Harvey Dent, two other figures seem like they may figure into this Arkham chapter based on the new trailer. One, through the donning of a signature gas mask, appears to be Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow. Arguably the most tone-defining villain of the entire Arkham saga, Scarecrow’s fear gas takes full advantage of the interactive medium to warp Batman’s mind throughout the series, as twisting level design reflects the darkest corners of his own psyche. Is this the beginning of the master of fear’s special relationship with the Dark Knight? (Also, can you imagine what the effect of Scarecrow’s gas would be like in virtual reality? I’m terrified just thinking about it…and also super excited to experience it!)

The other figure is a woman in glasses, who appears to be none other than Dr. Harleen Quinzel. She’s standing in the glow of a raging fire consuming the Monarch Theatre where Batman was born. Along with the Dark Knight himself, Harleen—whether as a young doctor or as the chaotic queen known as Harley Quinn—is one of the few characters who has appeared in all Arkham games, so it feels only natural to see her here. But what role will she play in Arkham Shadow? Only time will tell.


“The Rat King will stop at nothing to destroy my city,” Batman warns us in voiceover. “How far will I go to destroy him?”

These final words from a younger urban avenger reconnect us to exactly where Bruce Wayne was when we last found him on this emotional journey in Arkham Origins—a fiery crusader with more passion than compassion, more rage than sagacity. Will a Gotham in flames at the Rat King’s hand stoke the fire in Batman’s heart, or will it lead to an emotional connection between the angry young crimefighter and the World’s Greatest Detective he’s destined to become? The answers to these burning questions and more await us when Batmam: Arkham Shadow arrives this fall.

Batman: Arkham Shadow will be available in fall 2024 on the Meta Quest 3.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Bluesky at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.