Batman’s Major Retcon Ties the Wayne Family to Arkham
A return of an unexpected member of Bruce Wayne’s family in The Batman could drastically change this version of the hero – and Batwoman.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Batman, which is currently playing in theaters.
The Batman is indebted to the original stories about the titular superhero, with the film referencing and refining a number of elements from various comedic plots. But there are a few interesting and unique additions to the canon that could help this Batman stand out, including a surprising family connection that could carry over to how this new DC Universe portrays several of Gotham’s major heroes. The film makes a major departure from typical Batman canon by turning Bruce Wayne’s mother into a member of the Arkham family. But in addition to inviting unique readings of Bruce’s mission as the Dark Knight, it also offers the chance to approach Batwoman from a very unique perspective.
One of the great revelations of The Batman has to do with secrets of the Wayne family – specifically Martha Wayne. In most continuities, Martha is established as being from the Kanes, another powerful and illustrious family in Gotham. But in the DC Universe version that appears in The Batman, she’s actually an Arkham — a surname with a far more convoluted and controversial history than the Kanes. Besides being the founders of one of Gotham’s most infamous institutions, the Arkham family are also ones that have faced a lot of mental distress over the years, including Martha herself, who actually spent time at the asylum as a patient.
It’s an interesting concept and one that could quietly modify a parcel little details about this version of Bruce Wayne, especially considering Martha’s impact on other versions of the character. Wayne’s connection to Arkham also gives his habit of placing dangerous criminals in the asylum a darker connotation, continuing his family’s legacy of enforcing a strict definition of mental wellness in the city. The twisted legacy of Arkham Patients now rests with Bruce as well, impacting his decision to be the city’s defender. You could say that the history of the mentally ill in the Arkham Family now has an implicit impact on Bruce and his own inner darkness, making his crusade as Batman a more complicated affair.
But revelation is also potentially a huge game changer for any version of Batwoman that appears in this version of the DC Universe. Kate Kane is usually portrayed as Bruce Wayne’s cousin through their connection to the Kanes. It gives them a unique family bond that doesn’t rely on a hidden Wayne family member, and has helped flesh out Martha’s family in the modern age. But if that connection were to stick, then Batwoman would likely turn into Arkham as well. While it’s possible she’ll be retroactively transformed into Wayne or completely lose her familial connection to Batman, it would be much more interesting to see Batwoman’s role in the city become part of Arkham’s twisted legacy. . This would allow a heroic character to tackle the twisted legacy of this family line more directly than Batman likely ever will.
Suddenly, Kate Kane’s family with a dark undercurrent of mental illness presents their battles with her deranged twin sister Alice all the more impactful. It could also present an interesting way to approach his military service and more ruthless nature, hinting at a family legacy that lies in situations where there’s no chance of change or rehabilitation. And more complex attributes bestowed on characters like Astrid Arkham (aka Arkham Knight) from the DC Core Universe or Lady Arkham from Telltale Studios Batman the games could provide the opportunity for a more complicated and unique take on Batwoman. So while Martha’s connection to the Arkhams alters this version of Bruce, it will also likely have a major effect on his supporting cast.
To see how Arkhan’s twist changes everything, The Batman hits theaters on March 4.
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