Knightfall Protocol: What the Batman: Arkham Knight Ending Means

If you haven’t 100% completed Batman: Arkham Knight or you simply don’t want any Batman: Arkham Knight spoilers, now is the time to exit this post stage right. We’ll be discussing the different endings for Rocksteady’s latest, and what the final 100% completion ending means. So, here’s an image to break up the page so that nothing is spoiled for those that don’t want the story or Knightfall Protocol ending spoiled. Exit now.

knightfall protocol ending

When you reach 100% story completion in Batman: Arkham Knight, the final cutscene for the game is queued, and it’s definitely going to be a hot topic of debate until we get any new Batman games, at least. The final cutscene shows Bruce Wayne leaving his cowl at the bat signal (which explodes soon thereafter), he then says goodbye to Jim Gordon, and returns to Wayne Manor. At Wayne Manor, Vicki Vale and other Gotham residents are waiting for Bruce’s return. He returns, and then returns to his home where he’s greeted at the door by Alfred who says, “Are you sure you want to do this, Master Bruce?” To this, Bruce responds, “I’ve got to. It’s the only way to protect them.” 

The door closes, and just three seconds later, there are numerous explosions at Wayne Manor. The music swells, and then we see a new scene with an internal monologue from Jim Gordon. He then receives a text from Tim Drake who says “don’t forget the ring,” and the following few seconds of the cutscene insinuate that he and Barbara Gordon are to wed.

The next scene of the Knightfall Protocol Ending goes all the way back to Batman’s roots, where his mother and father were killed an alleyway as little Bruce looked on (which was also referenced at the end of the initial story). This time, however, the couple is anonymous (as is the kid), and instead of being killed, a shadowy figure with the appearance of the Dark Knight interrupts from the rooftop of a building nearby.

The figure then takes on a shadowy form, growing in size, and then rushing toward the criminals in an explosive fashion, in a horrific way that would suggest that Scarecrow’s toxin is somehow involved. There’s a long yell from a young voice, seemingly from the Batman-like figure, and then he quickly gets closer to the screen which then goes black after a flash of bright red. You can watch the Knightfall Protocol ending in its entirety in the video below:

Now, there are a few things worth noting after watching this ending. For one, I’m mildly annoyed at Rocksteady for making us 100% complete the game in its entirety (at least, excluding the Riddler trophies) in order to get this proper ending. Not that Batman: Arkham Knight isn’t a great game — it is — but completing the game took entirely too long. The main story, with Scarecrow as the main antagonist, felt a little too drawn out for my liking. There were too many forced tank battles and the story should’ve ended sooner. With that being said, the overall gameplay experience was good.

But what the Knightfall Protocol Ending is going to create discussions and heated debates about is who is this new shadowy figure at the very end of the Batman: Arkham Knight story and what exactly happened to Bruce Wayne and Alfred. We’ll tackle the latter question, first with some theories:

Are Bruce Wayne, Batman and Alfred really dead?

It’s tough to imagine a scenario in which Bruce would intentionally end Alfred’s life, which is why it is most likely that Bruce faked his own death to “protect them” (which “them” actually refers to the Bat family, not Gotham’s residents). It doesn’t fit Batman’s mold to allow another member of his family (Alfred) to have his life taken. The curiousness of it all is that it only takes roughly three seconds after Alfred shuts the door for the explosions to begin. Of course since the explosions seemingly all happened above ground, it’s possible that none of the Bat Cave — which we surprisingly didn’t see in Arkham Knight — was destroyed. Were Alfred and Bruce able to enter the Bat Cave or store away somewhere just before the explosions at Wayne Manor? It seems unlikely but still possible, and we’d imagine that is the story that Rocksteady wants us to believe. So no, we don’t think Bruce Wayne and Alfred are really dead, but it’s probable that Bruce Wayne will no longer portray Batman.

So, then who is the Batman figure at the end of the Knightfall Protocol Ending?

There are a few theories to consider for who the Batman-like figure at the end of the Knightfall Protocol ending could be. One thing to note about the ending is that we have no idea of the time difference from the so-called Batman death at Wayne Manor to when we see Jim Gordon in the cutscene. We do know that Jim Gordon has become mayor, as shown by a poster hanging during the cutscene.

An interesting theory is that the new Batman figure is Damien Wayne. We were given the Ra’s al Ghul storyline in Batman: Arkham City, with Talia al Ghul alluding to her and Batman getting it on (and thus introducing Damien Wayne to the Batman: Arkham world). This would probably mean that the time jump from Batman’s death to the bat-like figure standing on the roof would have to be pretty lengthy. It’s possible, though, and I don’t think it is an outcome that would disappoint fans.

Batman Beyond

Another theory — our theory, by the way — suggests that the new Batman figure on the roof is actually Terry McGinnis aka Batman from Batman BeyondWhy do we think this is possible? Look at the image above. For one, the redness in the cutscene really gives it a Batman Beyond vibe, does it not? The pointed ears of this version of Batman also suggests it is a different Batsuit. It wouldn’t explain the horror slant of the cutscene, and also Jim Gordon is dead by the time Terry McGinnis dawns the cowl, but not all of the story aspects have to line-up nicely, right?

The most likely theory is that Jason Todd/The Arkham Knight/Red Hood takes up the role of Batman. After all, he did come back and save Bruce at the end of Arkham Knight, did he not? With the final cutscene alluding to Tim Drake marrying Barbara, it’s likely that Tim is hanging up his Robin costume, too. So, we’ll count him out. But Jason Todd as Batman makes sense in the Batman Arkham mythos.

The final five minutes of the game also didn’t mention what happened to Nightwing (Dick Grayson), either. Is it possible that Grayson hangs up his Nightwing costume and takes up the role of the new Batman?  It’s very possible.

And then there’s always Azrael. Interestingly enough, Azrael took over as Batman beginning with the “Knightfall” storyline, which makes it interesting that Rocksteady chose to name it the Knightfall Protocol. In Arkham Knight, Azrael’s prophecy reads:

“Dark days are here Batman, the prophecy has come true. From the ashes of Arkham City the fires are raging and Gotham is burning. I can see that same fire in your eyes, before this night is through that fire will consume you. Gotham will need a new savior, a new guardian, a new Batman.”

I think it’s safe to say that the Azrael as Batman scenario is likely, especially since Azrael walks a fine line between criminal and crime fighter. This could explain the Scarecrow toxin use in the ending, as Azrael would be okay using a chemical weapon.

And finally, that brings us to the Bruce Wayne faking his own death to become Batman full-time theory. He faked his death to become Batman full time as it was the “only way to protect them” (in this case, them IS the residents of Gotham). He now uses the fear toxin as one of his gadgets. Honestly, this wouldn’t be a satisfying ending. Bruce Wayne as Batman needs to have ended in order for the “this is how the Batman dies” marketing to hold up.

Of course, this is all speculation as of right now. Hopefully, Rocksteady will release story DLC that will clue us into exactly what happened there at the end of the game, because it truly is a head-scratcher. We believe Rocksteady is done with Batman games (after they finish all of their DLC, that is), but we’re sure they wanted to set up to the next developer with something interesting to play with.

What do YOU think the Batman: Arkham Knight ending means? Sound off in the comments below.

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