Stop overreacting to Suicide Squad KTJL’s handling of Batman

Kevin Conroy's last appearance as the Arkhamverse Batman isn't the disaster many believe it to be in Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League.

Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League Batman: An image of Kevin Conroy's Batman.

The road to Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League releasing on PS5 and Xbox hasn’t been without controversy. The game’s initial reveal as a live-service shooter was one of the nails in the coffin for many fans, and a spell of middling previews didn’t help matters either. Kill the Justice League isn’t perfect by any means, but the wave of hatred fired toward it often feels predesignated, rather than based on hands-on experiences with the latest Rocksteady title.

And that applies to the game’s narrative, specifically how Kevin Conroy‘s Batman is depicted for the last time in the Arkhamverse. So, here’s your spoiler warning for the game’s story…

Rocksteady’s new PS5 game brings together a modern iteration of the Suicide Squad tasked with eliminating a corrupted version of the Justice League. Under the influence of cybernetic alien Brainiac, each member is hellbent on turning Metropolis and Earth into ash. While Superman is often portrayed as the leader of the League in comics and animated shows, it is Conroy’s Batman who leads the efforts to thwart the Squad’s mission.

Making good on Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League‘s concept, Task Force X (a moniker for the Squad), does eventually send Batman to his grave, with Harley Quinn delivering the final blow with a bullet to the head. There’s no time for ceremonious send-offs or overblown monologues. Instead, Batman’s death is just as swift and brutal as the rest of the League. And that’s how it should be.

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This is a Suicide Squad game, after all, and none of these ragtag villains care about the League. Sure, Harley Quinn shows a semblance of humanity toward Wonder Woman during her scrape with Superman, but it isn’t enough for her or the Squad to intervene. From the Squad’s perspective, slightly underplaying each League death makes sense.

Kevin Conroy has signed onto plenty of other Batman-related projects in the past that were maligned, like the animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. The notion that Conroy doesn’t have faith in his projects is laughable, especially as a notable custodian of the Batman character since inhabiting the role in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Conroy evidently saw something exciting in this version, gaining the ability to show Batman as an exacting military leader who hones his decades of skills to lead Brainiac’s forces. That’s a story beat seen many times in Batman history, as villains like Ra’s al Ghul have courted Batman to assume leadership over the League of Assassins.

The concept of evil DC Comics heroes isn’t exactly new, and there are hundreds of stories where our favorite do-gooders turn to the dark side. Conroy’s portrayal of Batman in KTJL is sublime. He’s relishing the chance to play this darker perspective, with the Dark Knight stalking the Squad around Metropolis and commenting on their efforts. Rocksteady brilliantly manifests how terrifying is to be one of the end of Batman’s wrath in the game’s early hours, as the Squad encounters him in a museum exhibit dedicated to all things Batman.

All of this still feels true to the Arkhamverse Batman, showing us just how brilliantly observant, dedicated, physically dominating, and thematically imposing he is. Evil or not, that’s Batman through and through. The vitriol toward Batman’s fate is unwarranted and just absurd when you consider the game’s multiversal plot. Looking closer to each skirmish with the League shows that things aren’t what they seem.

The Flash can heal fast, but he can’t regrow limbs, just like his thumb that is seemingly reattached and stolen from Captain Boomerang during his boss fight. Defeating a Green Lantern should automatically trigger the ring to find another worthy host, but King Shark can wear it instantaneously to take down the shields on Brainiac’s ship. Superman is violently pierced through the chest with Kryptonite, his famous weakness, but barely reacts to being in the presence of it beforehand.

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Apart from Wonder Woman and Superman, the League’s powers and skills are also retrofitted into new villain types, indicating that Brainiac is storing them on his ship – a place to generate and potentially be liberated in future Suicide Squad DLC. Recent datamining of the game’s files signal a return for the Justice League in some capacity, and it wouldn’t surprise if our quest to defeat all thirteen versions of Brainiac sees them pop up along the way.

The presence of Wally West and Hal Jordan multiversal versions of The Flash and Green Lantern can also be seen in the alternative dimension Lex Luthor lives in, along with another Batman too. The foundations to bring Arkhamverse Batman, or another Batman voiced by Conroy are in place. Rocksteady is also debuting a new Joker in Season 1, and I’m eager to know what his Batman is like.

Rocksteady’s passion for these characters has been clear since Arkham Asylum, and that hasn’t changed in Kill the Justice League. At the end of the day, Conroy gives an immaculate performance, adding another great addition to his sterling legacy.