In 2009, Rocksteady Studios set a new standard for superhero video games with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Based, of course, in and around the infamous Arkham Asylum that houses Gotham City's criminally insane, the game put Batman directly inside the island prison, after the Joker had released all the inmates. And that was just the beginning. Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, it started out as an ambitious open world game based, somewhat loosely on the comics and became a sprawling universe with its own canon and mythology. There have been three sequels since it first came out: Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham Knight, along with a VR game and four mobile games. The Arkhamverse has also spawned four comic book tie-ins, two novels, and even an animated movie... this time, based loosely on the game.
It takes a long time to make a video game and sometimes it keeps things interesting for the developers to put well hidden elements and references into it. Known as Easter eggs, the Arkham games are packed with secrets and references to the Batman mythology and even previous games. It's become a game in itself for fans to dig and explore, and to find the Easter eggs, but even if you've run through each game a thousand times, you might not have found them all. That's why CBR decided to run down 25 Easter eggs only die-hard fans would have noticed in the Arkham games. It's time to dust off the old disks, fire up your console, and go back to Arkham... if you dare!
The following contains SPOILERS for all four of Arkham games.
25 RA'S AL GHUL'S BODY
One of Batman's most well funded and powerful enemies is Ra's al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins/Shadows (depending on the version). He became a central figure in the sequel Arkham City, but there's only a brief but creepy Easter Egg for him in Arkham Asylum.
In one level, Batman goes into a morgue and you'll find a body in a vault with a toe tag that says "Ra's al Ghul." However, if you go back later on in the game, the body will have disappeared. The idea is that his body was retrieved by one of his followers and later revived at the Lazarus Pits, which bring al Ghul back to life.
24 THE JOKER MANNEQUIN
In the game, as in the comics, the Joker is Batman's mortal enemy. It's his plan that releases the prisoners on the island, and he's everywhere coordinating the chaos during the game. He was actually in more places than the player might have noticed.
For instance, in the Arkham Asylum Visitor's Room, Batman runs into what appears to be a mannequin of the Joker with a television for a head. If the player looks around for a while and looks closely at the mannequin, they would have seen that the mannequin's arms have changed position. That was a hint that the "mannequin" was actually the Joker himself.
23 DR. CLOONEY
In 1997, the movie Batman and Robin put the Batman movie franchise in jeopardy with its campy humor and outrageous sets. One of the most controversial decisions was casting George Clooney as Batman. Arkham Asylum threw that in as an Easter egg in the game!
After Batman has rescued two other characters -- Cash and Dr. Kellerman from a room filled with the Joker's laughing gas, you can look from the main room back into the smaller room they were trapped in. You'll see a ticker scrolling by with a garbled message, "Dr. Clooney report to Gynecology." That's a reference to George Clooney who played a pediatric doctor on the TV drama ER.
22 THE SCARECROWS
One of the most popular features of the game were the "interview tapes" scattered around Arkham Asylum. When found, players could listen to them to hear the recordings of therapy sessions with various inmates. They were a cool and occasionally creepy addition to the game and collecting them was a nice side quest.
In the first interview tape for the Scarecrow, you'll hear the names Dr. Murphy and Dr. Combs mentioned. Both doctors have the last names of actors who have played Scarecrow. In 1997's The New Batman Adventures, Jeffrey Combs was the voice of Scarecrow, and Cillian Murphy played Scarecrow in 2005 with Batman Begins.
21 BANE'S BEAR
Bane has proven himself a ruthless and strong villain over the years but with a childhood that almost makes him sympathetic. Bane was literally born a prisoner, forced to serve a life sentence for his father's crimes. As a child, one of his only friends was a stuffed teddy bear named Osito that means "little bear" in Spanish.
In the first Arkham Asylum game, Batman faces off against Bane, powered up with Venom. If you watched closely, you would have seen an Easter egg in the room right before the encounter where a worn teddy bear is on the ground, his childhood bear Osito. Seems like Bane is still sentimental about it.
20 LUKE OLIVER
There are dozens of inmates running around Arkham and quite a few more sitting in cells, so you'd be forgiven for not noticing one seemingly insignificant prisoner but he was pretty important. In fact, he's one of the few people in the game who exists in the real world.
In 2008, Rocksteady held a contest to promote Arkham Asylum where the winner would get to be in the game. The winner was Luke Oliver and the game designer was true to its word, because Oliver can be seen as a prisoner in the control room. His name is also found in the Joker's Party List.
19 HARLEY'S PREGNANCY TEST
The relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn is one of the most twisted in all of comics. The Joker loves only fear and mayhem, and Harley is his former psychiatrist who fell in love with him and became his partner in crime. While she loved him, he delighted in abusing her.
Arkham City put a dark twist on their relationship. When Batman reaches the Joker's Steel Mill, the Manager's Office has Harley Quinn's costume next to a pregnancy test. The test is positive, implying that she is pregnant with the Joker's child. This was later reversed in the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC, where we saw negative pregnancy tests, but it was a cool idea while it lasted.
18 THE CYPHERS
Batman has a ton of cool gadgets to play with in Arkham Asylum, and one of the most useful is the Cryptographic Sequencer. The Sequencer allows Batman to unlock doors, listen in on radio broadcasts, and hack computers.
After beating the Arkham City game, the Cryptographic Sequencer will let the player find three different messages on three different signals that had real-world ciphers to decode. One cipher can be decoded as "I will return, Batman." The second is "You will pay for what you have done to me." The third is "fear will tear Gotham City to shreds." The code word to unlock the third cipher is "Scarecrow," foreshadowing the villain in the later sequel, Arkham Knight.
17 THE JOKER'S GOODBYE
A great added feature in Arkham City was the "Catwoman" DLC that allowed the player to take control of Catwoman to play her own quest. Her DLC actually had a connection to the main story with a hidden message referencing the Joker's demise.
In the "Catwoman" DLC, Episode 3 gives you the choice of saving Batman or escaping with loot. If you decide to take the loot, you get a horrible ending; then the game rewinds for you to try again. While it's rewinding, you can hear a voice in reverse. If you reverse that reversed footage, you can hear the Joker saying "Thank you for the entertainment, Bats!"
16 THE DUALITY OF MAN
One of the reasons that Batman and the Joker are such a great pair is that they're such perfect opposites. Batman is about darkness and the Joker about light. Batman fights crime and the Joker causes it. That's why the Joker's final end was so iconic, and Arkham City drives it home with the final scene.
The final scene of Batman carrying the Joker's body was echoed at one point of Catwoman's story. On one level, we saw a painting called "The Duality of Man" showing the Biblical Cain carrying the body of his brother Abel. The pose copied the scene of Batman carrying Joker's body, showing the almost sibling rivalry between the two.
15 THE FALLING TRAIN
In 2005, the movie Batman Begins literally reinvented Batman by showing his origin as a young man trained by Ra's al Ghul to become a ninja. Their relationship ended when Batman left him to face justice on a falling train. That moment was captured in Arkham City.
At one point in the game, Batman was forced to undergo the surreal world of the Demon Trials. He drinks from a chalice that causes him to see a dream landscape of ice, odd structures, and train tracks. During his journey, there was a moment where you could see a train falling off its rails in the background, referring to the ending of Batman Begins.
14 ROCKSTEADY'S BIRTHDAY
When the video game developer Rocksteady Studios released Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, it was a brand new company that had only released one game before, Urban Chaos: Riot Response. Arkham Asylum put it on the map and the company called back to its roots in Arkham City.
One villain who appears in the game is Calendar Man, a psychopath who takes lives on holidays. He's in a cell below the courthouse that Batman can visit. If the player visited Calendar Man on holidays (or changed the time settings on their game console or PC), Calendar Man would say different things related to the holiday. Setting the date to December 13 2004 would cause Calendar Man to say a unique message. That's the date when Rocksteady Studios was founded.
13 BATMAN'S PARENTS
Even those who are only casual fans of Batman know his origin story, one of the most famous origins in comic books. When he was a young boy, Bruce Wayne's parents were shot in front of him by a mugger. Their loss caused a lifelong obsession with fighting crime and protecting the innocent.
Arkham Origins paid tribute to that moment. There are optional missions called Case File Reports that are playable in the game, and one is a crime that takes place in Crime Alley. The crimes happened in the same spot where Batman's parents met their end and when he reconstructs the crime scene, Thomas and Martha Wayne's bodies appear briefly in the chalk outlines.
12 ANDREA BEAUMONT
In 1993, the animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm flashed back to an early chapter in Bruce Wayne's life where he met and almost married a beautiful socialite named Andrea Beaumont. In the present, he chased after the Phantasm, a mysterious vigilante taking out mobsters. In the end, he discovered Beaumont was also the Phantasm, and the Phantasm has returned in comics and TV shows.
In Batman: Arkham Origins, two postcards can be found on the floor of the Batcave, right across from the Batcomputer. They're from Rome and Paris addressed to Bruce Wayne, and have the signature of Andrea Beaumont.
11 SCARECROW CHECKS IN
Arguably the master of fear, Dr. Jonathan Crane is a psychiatrist so obsessed with fear that he began creating it himself. With a scarecrow costume, he became a master criminal who started using a gas that caused people's fears to come to life.
Scarecrow became the main villain in Arkham Knight but he was seen and mentioned in previous games. One of the most subtle Easter eggs came in Arkham Origins where you can see Crane has signed the Blackgate Prison visitor log. It shows Crane signed in but never signed out, meaning he was still there during the time Batman roamed the city.
10 LEFTY KNOX
This one will be a really deep dive into Batman's lore, so we wouldn't expect most fans to get it. Throughout the Arkham games, Batman would listen in on the enemy radios, picking up different conversations between random thugs. At one point in Arkham Origins, some thugs aboard the Final Offer mentioned Lefty Knox.
One of Batman's most underrated skills is his mastery of disguises. Throughout his history (though with less frequency in recent years), Batman has taken on different characters to go where he or Bruce Wayne couldn't go. One of those characters was Lefty Knox, a one-armed thief who pretended to join the gang of Doctor Aesop, but was really the Dark Knight.
9 JINGLE BELLS
Batman: The Animated Series was a landmark in Batman's canon, introducing people like Harley Quinn and Harvey Bullock, but it also brought back established characters like the Joker. The Joker's first appearance on the series was in "Christmas With the Joker" where his first line was the first stanza to the song "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells."
In Arkham Origins' final encounter with the Joker in Blackgate Prison, Joker sings a variation of the song "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." The best part is that Mark Hamill was the voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and Arkham Origins.
8 THE TWINS
Two of the toughest bosses in the original Arkham Asylum were Mister Hammer and Mister Sickle, two formerly conjoined twins who were left with one arm to swing their signature weapons. Also known as the Abramovici Twins, the two were earlier separated at the shoulder at some point before joining the Joker's gang.
We didn't learn much else about them in the first game but Arkham Origins hinted at a possible look to their past. At one point in the Batcave, Alfred told Batman that his friend Dr. Thomas Elliot had called about a pair of twins in surgery. Besides the fact that Elliot became the villain Hush, fans also believe the pair of twins are the Abramovici Twins.
7 HALLOWEEN WITH MANBAT
Rocksteady loves to put Easter eggs into its games based on time. One of those Easter eggs is in Arkham Knight, a celebration of Halloween. In the game, Batman fought Robert Kirkland Langstrom, who fused himself with animal DNA to become Man-Bat. Once you've captured him and put him in a cell in the Gotham City Police Department, you're ready for October 31.
If you set the time on your console or PC to that date in 2015 and go back to the police station, you'll find him secure in his cell as a human. But once you've started flying around Gotham again, you'll get jumped by Man-Bat. Sure enough, if you go back to the cell, he'll have escaped. Spooky.
6 VICTOR ZSASZ
Victor Zsasz is one of the more creepy and brutal villains that Batman has faced, but also one of the most basic. He doesn't have weird powers or a quirky theme or even a costume. He's just a psychopath who likes to end people. His hook is that he cuts a tally mark into his flesh every time he takes someone's life, and he's covered in tally marks.
Zsasz first made an appearance in Arkham Asylum when he took guards hostage and Batman has to rescue them. The Easter egg came in Arkham Knight when Batman was trying to review camera footage of a riot at the clocktower. At one point, Victor could be seen on the lower left corner.
5 RA'S AL GHUL
At the end of Arkham City, the Joker passed away from poisoning from his Titan formula. The scene of Batman carrying the Joker has become iconic for the series. In fact, they decided to copy the scene for Arkham Knight.
In Arkham Knight, Batman had the chance to echo that moment with Ra's al Ghul. If the player chooses "Destroy Lazarus Machine" in the finale, Batman will carry Ra's al Ghul to take him to the Gotham City Police Department. That scene perfectly mirrors the "Duality of Man" moment where Batman carried Joker's lifeless body at the end of Arkham City.
4 TINY RETURNS
The Penguin was a major enemy in Arkham City, and one of the big moments in the game came in the Cyrus Pinkney's Institute for Natural History. That's where the villain kept the great white shark named Tiny that ate everyone who fell into the water tank. Batman had to navigate the frozen pool while rescuing taken police officers.
It seemed like the fate of Tiny was revealed in Batman: Arkham Knight. In the Cauldron Distant of Bleake Island, Batman is going through Falcone's Shipping Yard and at one point, we can see a great white shark hung by a massive hook. It seems like the shark was caught after all.
3 THE SECRET BUTTON
Most older Batman fans have a great love for the campy 1960s TV show. It was a goofy treat with slapstick humor, but also had some really cool and clever gadgets for the Caped Crusader. Rocksteady obviously has a fondness for it, too, because it put a reference to the old show into the game.
In the Clock Tower where Oracle and Batman work together, there's a bust of William Shakespeare. Folding back the head reveals a button to push. If that sounds familiar, it's because the same bust with a hidden button was used in the 1960s TV show to open the secret entrance to the Batcave.
2 BATMAN'S BIRTHDAY
Batman is one of the oldest and most popular superheroes in the world, and certainly in the DC universe. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics ##27 with a cover date of May 1939. That moment was captured in Batman: Arkham Knight at the Panessa Studios level.
Panessa Studios was a run-down film studio in Gotham City where Batman was chasing five people including Johnny Charisma, who had been tainted by the Joker's blood. At one point, Batman needed to unlock a door and found out the code was 0539. Now that you know the date of Batman's comic, that code probably makes more sense.
1 CALENDAR MAN'S END
Calendar Man was once a gimmick villain who would plan crimes based on holidays or days of the week. That changed in 1996's Batman: The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale) where Calendar Man became a Hannibal Lecter type of mentor to Batman, and that's the version who appeared in the Arkham series.
In an Easter Egg from Arkham City, Calendar Man referenced Long Halloween when he said he was there at the beginning of Batman's career and predicted he would be there at Batman's end. In Arkham Knight's final scene, a crowd surrounds Wayne Manor and you can see Calendar Man among them. That's the kind of attention to detail that made the game so awesome.