Various trailers for Gotham Knights suggest that the Court of Owls will be the game’s main villain, but the secret society may be very different from the comics. While DC Comics provides thousands of pages of material and inspiration for character adaptations in TV shows, movies, and video games, deviating from the original design can open new opportunities for developers. Batman villains have undergone serious thematic changes throughout the years, from Harley Quinn’s evolution to Killer Croc’s many forms, and it’s likely the Court of Owls could follow this pattern in Gotham Knights.
Gotham Knights takes place in a new Batman universe, where Bruce Wayne has died under mysterious circumstances. With the Caped Crusader unable to protect Gotham, Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin must step up to defend their city against opportunistic criminals. Villains like Mister Freeze and the Court of Owls threaten to destroy the balance Batman painstakingly earned, but the long-term effects of the Dark Knight’s demise have yet to be seen. Players can enjoy a single-player or co-op experience in Gotham Knights’ open-world, which revives many mechanics from the Batman Arkham series. Though the games occur in different universes, Gotham Knights is likely to take after Batman: Arkham by deviating from the comics in certain areas, especially with the Court of Owls.
The Court of Owls is an Illuminati-styled Batman enemy composed of the wealthiest individuals in Gotham City. Though their influence has waned over the years, their legend persists through nursery rhymes and urban legends. Historically, the Court of Owls influenced many aspects of Gotham City’s society, including elections, wealth distribution, and industry. Several continuities suggested the Court of Owls may have had something to do with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, inadvertently creating Batman many years ago.
The Court of Owls usually only recruits members with a wealthy background, but this is liable to change in the Gotham Knights game. Gotham City has always been a tricky beast to tame, especially with Batman’s iron fist crushing many aspects of the criminal world. Additionally, Commissioner Gordon worked tirelessly to clean the Gotham City Police Department from the inside out, removing many officers who worked with the criminal underground. However, with Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s deaths in Gotham Knights, the Court may recruit from the lower class to reinstate their influence. Corrupt police officers would not only be a relevant topic to confront in Gotham Knights, but it could reveal the Court’s desperation to reclaim Gotham City in Batman’s wake. Corrupt police officers and bribed city officials could be the key to conquering Gotham’s most crucial social systems.
Ruling Gotham through its police force and public offices only conquers a single front within the troubled city. Though Batman is dead, his Rogues Gallery continues to thrive in the chaos left behind, potentially presenting an obstacle to the Court’s unchallenged rule. Instead of isolating their membership to Gotham’s elite, the Court of Owls may have to work with other Gotham Knights villains (like Joker or Mr. Freeze). While partnerships like these pose a danger to both the Court and the villains, the threat will likely prove far greater to Gotham’s newest heroes. Facing Batman’s greatest enemies with the capital and connections to produce deadly technology may become one of Gotham Knights’ most dangerous in-game challenges.
It’s unknown how many heroes will appear in Gotham Knights, but several characters have previously held connections to the Court through various familial links. One such character was Batwoman, also known as Kate Kane, who believed her sister had died when they were children. DC later revealed that her sister had survived and created her own criminal empire with an impressive following. Batwoman’s sister ranked among the Court of Owls’ members in some continuities, but Batwoman has yet to appear in any Gotham Knights trailers.
Additionally, Nightwing’s ancestors have historically become Talons to the Court of Owls. Gotham Knights’ Talons are a mystery but are confirmed as an enemy type based on several trailers released in past months. Dick Grayson’s grandfather, William Cobb, far exceeded the average human lifespan by entering cryostasis after each mission. Usually, his goal centers around recruiting Nightwing to the Court of Owls, killing Batman, or killing the Court’s enemies. Despite the existence of these characters, WB Games could utilize original characters and leave comic continuity behind.
DC’s Court of Owls has historically depended on a Grandmaster that runs the society’s meetings and carries out the group’s decisions. Throughout comics and various iterations of the Court of Owls, several notorious characters have occupied this role. Benjamin Orchard, John Wycliffe, Sebastian Clark, and Samantha Vanaver are a few characters who’ve previously ruled over the Court, but it’s unknown if WB Games will use any of these Grandmasters in-game. Instead, Gotham Knights could mirror Batman: Arkham Knight and craft a new, unique character exclusively for the video game universe. The Arkham Knight presented Batman fans with a unique, Bat-themed character that reinvented the story of Jason Todd, and Gotham Knights could do the same.
While there are many comics that feature Batman’s apparent death (most famously Final Crisis), the Court of Owls has yet to claim that title in the main continuity. Conversely, it could be the case that the Court is responsible for Bruce Wayne’s death in Gotham Knights. Often in modern comics, heroes like Batman or Wonder Woman are portrayed as being near-indestructible, with their allies sometimes pushed to the periphery or to star in their own spin-off comics. By killing Batman in Gotham Knights, WB Games has already accomplished the unthinkable and removed the Caped Crusader from the equation. This allows Batman’s villains in Gotham Knights to grow beyond their relationship with the Dark Knight, and forge new rivalries with his allies.
Despite Batman’s defeat, specific details of the comics’ Court of Owls appear in Gotham Knights, such as the Fear Maze. While many of the Court’s traps focused on tormenting Batman, some challenges could change to fit Gotham Knights’ playable heroes better. Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin pose different challenges to the Court and require different strategies to defeat. Gotham’s new heroes could sway the Court to change their usual tactics and gimmicks by facing new enemies, which could in turn reinvigorate them.
Gotham Knights promises to be a different superhero game, veering sharply from previous depictions of Batman in the medium. Thankfully the opportunity to explore new versions of familiar characters provides WB Games with significant creative freedom. Gotham Knights already departed from the norm of focusing on Batman by bringing other members of the Bat-family into the spotlight. The Court of Owls also has an impressive legacy in the Batman comics, but WB Games may take a different approach to them now that Batman’s gone.
Read more: screenrant.com