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“Gotham Knights” will explore Batgirl and Red Hood’s trauma.

After Batman dies, Nightwing, Red Hood, Robin, and Batgirl continue his cause in “Gotham Knights“. The Court of Owls, a covert organization that has operated in Gotham for years right under their noses, is the target of their fight for justice. I have also questioned why WB Games Montréal decided to use Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl in the same way that I questioned why the studio selected Tim Drake’s Robin instead of Stephanie Brown or Damian Wayne. Despite the fact that many cool women have taken on the role, she is by far the most well-known Batgirl. However, Barbara needed to be the main character and out in the field with the others for WB Games Montréal.

In addition to having storylines involving Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, and her late father, Jim Gordon, Batgirl’s inclusion in the roster of playable characters allows the development team to examine the frequently underappreciated relationship between her and Jason Todd, aka Red Hood. In the comic books, the Joker inflicts harm on both Barbara and Jason. Jason is killed by the Clown Prince of Crime and then revived while Barbara is shot in the spine and rendered paralyzed. “Gotham Knights” aims to fill the gap where this shared history isn’t explored in the majority of iterations of the two characters.

“Barbara and Jason’s relationship is probably one of the ones I’m most excited for people to see,” “Gotham Knights” lead writer Ceri Young told me. “They have both been through some extremely traumatic situations, and as such, we felt that they would really have a deep understanding of how it feels to deal with and recover from that–in a way that Tim and Dick, while they’re sympathetic, can’t grasp. So, you’ll see moments where Barbara and Jason recognize that in one another, and step in to help each other.”

There has been some time since the initial trauma that left Barbara in a wheelchair, but not much. “Gotham Knights” starts a little over a year after Barbara’s return to her role as Batgirl. Young claims that the story of “Gotham Knights” doesn’t focus much on that particular trauma and that the actual event differs “in some significant ways from the comics.” Despite the fact that Barbara has regained her mobility as a result of numerous surgeries and rehabilitation, the event’s aftereffects are still evident in her life as “Gotham Knights” opens.

According to Young, “Batgirl’s injury, rehabilitation, and time serving as Oracle are all part of her story and who she is.” “So it goes without saying that we recognize it in “Gotham Knights”, and there are many moments that will do so. You’ll notice that she is actually wearing a back brace. You can observe her performing injuries-specific exercises in the Belfry if she’s not otherwise occupied. She will discuss her time as Oracle in terms of stories. She and the team initially experience some tension because they are working out of the Belfry, which she is accustomed to considering to be her space. We worked with consultants at Ablegamers to ensure that we were handling it with the care and respect that it deserves because we are aware of how significant it is to many people.”

Barbara discovers Bruce’s passing while she is still in the process of getting over her trauma, adding another challenge to her life. She shares that struggle with Jason, and the two of them accept that they will both have to overcome emotional and mental obstacles. According to Young, “Everyone’s narrative arc turns on Bruce’s death because that’s the big recent thing, but in Barbara’s case, she’s working under layers of major life events — being injured, becoming Oracle, her father’s death, and now Bruce. It’s a lot to handle, and she’s seriously considering her role in it all as well as the people she’s lost contact with.

Granted, if Barbara had remained Oracle and another Batgirl had been added to “Gotham Knights”, Barbara’s incredibly traumatic past and how it allows her to at least somewhat connect with Jason could still have been easily explored. The Bat symbol, which is interestingly also only worn by Jason, is once again worn by Barbara when she transforms into Batgirl. Of course, the two wear the symbol of Batman for very different reasons, but it also comes to signify a shared bond of survival between them, uniting them with Batman in a way that Nightwing and Robin are unable to.

Before meeting Batman, Barbara actually takes it on accidentally, according to Young. “At a time when Jason feels like Batman betrayed him, Jason interprets it as a bit of a “F-U” to Batman. But as time goes on, I believe both Barbara and Jason start to take pride in it and use it as a sign of belonging to the group/family they are a part of.”

As one of Batman’s earliest allies who worked with him for a considerable amount of time, Barbara has been a part of the Gotham Knight family since the beginning. Barbara is one of the characters who has known Bruce the longest, so having her in our cast was definitely influenced by the fact that she is one of those characters, according to Young. “And it’s not just Bruce; she is the only person who truly understands Nightwing. Additionally, she has known Jason since the beginning and has witnessed the development of their friendship. This enables us to develop team dynamics that we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Additionally, it enables the team to include a non-Batman character who resembles Batman. All three of Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin regard Batman as an adoptive father figure, which influences their individual decisions to don masks and battle crime. That isn’t the case with Barbara, who, like Batman, decided to become a vigilante on her own and worked on her own for a while. Jim Gordon is her father, according to Young. “Bruce serves as both a mentor and a cherished uncle in her eyes. Additionally, she resembles him the most in many ways while also having the most insight into him.”

Barbara and Bruce initially teamed up out of necessity, not desire, according to the “Gotham Knights” team’s account of their relationship. Bruce could turn to Barbara, who was enrolled in forensic science classes, to gain access to evidence, case files, and intelligence that a supposedly carefree billionaire couldn’t look into without blowing his cover, while Barbara needed the advice and technology that Bruce’s extensive wealth and decades of training allowed. It is a somewhat unusual dynamic within the Bat Family, where almost everyone just follows Batman’s lead, that Barbara and Bruce were like equal partners.

And rest assured that “Gotham Knights” does not take the dynamic of “they’re both adults and equals” to its ickiest conclusion. The team did not draw its inspiration from the way Bruce and Barbara are sometimes depicted as being romantically involved or secret lovers in Batman media.

“Story-wise we’ve drawn from a lot of different places,” Young said. “I’d say the top three were Batgirl Year One, Batgirl of Burnside, and Birds of Prey. … In terms of personality, we definitely wanted to keep Barbara’s determination, her strong sense of justice, and [her] focus on fighting for what’s right, even when no one else will. She has a strong sense of purpose. In terms of skillset, she’s our computer expert and hacker, and she’ll balance that with physical combat moves.”

In “Gotham Knights“, Barbara typically wears a bluish purple and bright yellow outfit. It strongly resembles the uniform Barbara first dons in Batgirl of Burnside, a Barbara soft reboot directed by writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, as well as by artists Babs Tarr and Maris Wicks. The new direction did see Barbara dealing with her past trauma as she left Oracle and once more assumed the identity of Batgirl, but it also did away with the edgier and darker tones of most Batman comics in favor of one that was much more lighthearted and vibrantly colored. In that comic run, Barbara is also noticeably more sassy and tech-savvy, which may have had an influence on how actor America Young portrayed Barbara in “Gotham Knights“, giving the seasoned vigilante a little spunk with a playful and snarky attitude.

The design, animation, and combat of Batgirl in “Gotham Knights” are all influenced by this characterization. As one of the oldest and most seasoned members of the Bat-Family, Barbara’s in-game representation walks and stands with self-assurance, and when speaking, she displays her strong leadership and sleuthing abilities. She also possesses a fighting style that is incredibly versatile and draws inspiration from a variety of martial arts. Barbara is the “most Bat” of the playable characters, according to Geoff Ellenor, the director of the “Gotham Knights” video game. She is not the Batman, and she and Bruce differ from one another.

The animation director for the “Gotham Knights” said, “In terms of animation and movements, we’ve crafted her in a way to be this strong, confident woman who can totally kick-ass.” She is a very skilled fighter who has developed a wide range of combat abilities that can only come with time and maturity.

According to Ellenor, “Batgirl’s tonfa is a key element of her martial arts style and it’s a connection to her father, an experienced cop who would have trained with similar equipment. “She gets to use hacking abilities at a longer range than what was seen in some previous iterations of “Bat-gameplay,” and even her smart-drone was designed as an extension of her skill set as Oracle. Physical prowess is a direct result of Batgirl’s grit and willpower. She battled her way back, regained her strength, and she keeps rising to the occasion when others fall.”

With the help of some extremely skilled martial artists and animators, Colaco said, “we initially started prototyping her fight style with the goal of combining various martial arts that would feel effective, elegant, and flow well together.” We had to redo Batgirl’s animations about three times before we finally got it right. It took a lot of research and development to figure out her combat maneuvers.

These animations, as seen in Batgirl movie trailers, feature Batgirl using tonfa and nunchucks while incorporating movements from Capoeira, Judo, and Taekwondo. It’s very fluid and leans toward a fighting style where Batgirl uses her entire body weight with each blow to compensate for her smaller stature.

Colaco observed that “a lot of her combat animations use her body weight into them, whether it’s a takedown, a Taekwondo spin kick, or a Judo hip-toss.” “We also made sure that she is dangerous with her legs because of the long legs that her character design had. For instance, capoeira makes extensive use of kicks and has a fluid dance feel.”

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the “Gotham Knights” are set up so that Nightwing, Red Hood, Robin, and Batgirl are aware that they can work as “the next Batman” and defend Gotham collectively in a way that Bruce could never do alone. However, it appears that WB Games Montréal at least wrote Batgirl to play a slightly more leadership-like role on the team and give Batman’s mission a perspective that Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin lack. At the very least, it has persuaded me to play through “Gotham Knights” as Batgirl the first time, just to observe how all those dynamics develop.