I’m eagerly making my way through Arkham Knight when what else comes to mind but good ole philosopher Hegel and the historical dialectic that gets attributed to him. He was all about the idea that teleological forces shape human history, moreso than any individual will. There’s sort of a world spirit that takes care of everything we experience across time. In the process, the movement is quite simple: thesis – antithesis – synthesis.
Every historical moment begins with a thesis, a paradigmatic “argument” that shapes a society’s worldview. Born from that quite naturally is the seed for its own destruction: its antithesis. In this sense, rebellion in every society is inevitable, just as death is inevitable for life, being life’s antithesis. The antithesis and thesis meet and we have historical conflict, which leads to synthesis, and thus, a new thesis. And so the cycle goes on…
To what end? No idea. But my guess would be that it’s not an end in the sense of a point, but an end in the sense of a purpose, which is maintaining what I’m gonna call chaotic equilibrium. You can think of it as “natural” balance. This is the end toward which “life finds a way.”
Now why did I think of this while controlling Batman? In every superhero story, the question emerges about whether it’s “good” that a superhero starts running shit. We could explore this from a number of angles, but let’s go with Hegel here for a brief bit. If Batman is the ultimate good, he will naturally spawn the ultimate evil, which in Gotham’s case is the Joker (or anyone who takes up his mantle of social disorder and a threat to the status quo). In this sense, wishing for a superhero is wishing for a supervillain, which is the upper rung of Commissioner Gordon’s concerns about escalation in Batman Begins. Likewise, gods don’t exist without devils (whether in our imaginations or not). Why, then, as the game asks, would we ever want or need Batman?
If Batman is the hero we deserve and need, then say goodbye to life. He’s the Apocalypse.
Update: After I drafted this, I advanced in the game, to when Scarecrow declares, after a very emotional death (no spoilers), “You will bring death to all who follow you.”