The movie “The Batman” has a feeling of both being new and being old. We are introduced to well-known individuals and locations and challenged to consider them in new circumstances. For instance, we discover more about the Arkhams in a live-action Batman movie for the first time. It’s likely that even those who are just passingly familiar with Batman will recognise the word Arkham. There is a whole series of Batman video games with “Arkham” in the title, and Arkham Asylum is where the majority of Batman’s insane adversaries are detained.
However, Arkham has largely remained a name up till now. That is altered by “The Batman.”
There are spoilers for “The Batman” below.
The Arkham Family
The Arkham family has a long history in Gotham, according to the Batman comics. In actuality, the family took part in the founding of the community that would become Gotham City. But the Arkhams, like the majority of Gotham citizens, suffered from tragedy. Amity Arkham, the sister of Gotham’s creator Ezekiel Arkham, was executed for witchcraft in the 17th century by being burned at the stake. Since that time, Amity’s ghost has haunted her descendants, turning them into arsonists in the process. And look, I think we’ve all been there. Who among us hasn’t been possessed by a deceased relative and gone out and set something on fire?
Amadeus Arkham established Arkham Asylum in the 1800s, a facility renowned for its castle-like setting, completely insane inmates, and fantastic gaming room (I bet they have Boggle!). Although Arkham is still a prominent figure in Batman mythology, you have to acknowledge that the institution doesn’t seem to have the best track record for rehabilitation. The Joker was frequently imprisoned in Arkham in “Batman: The Animated Series,” but he always broke out to give the city’s fish wide grins or engage in other foolishness. Then, in “Batman Begins,” it was discovered that Arkham doctor Jonathan Crane (the one and only Mr. Pretty Eyes, Cillian Murphy) was actually the Scarecrow, a thief who used Arkham patients to poison Gotham’s water supply. I’m only suggesting that Arkham Asylum rethink its employment procedure. Or possibly simply go offline permanently.
Arkham in The Batman
While Arkham Asylum has previously appeared in Batman films, the Arkham family has remained anonymous. However, “The Batman” alters that. Bruce Wayne’s mother Martha—why did you say that name?!—is actually an Arkham in Matt Reeves’ movie. Prior to becoming Martha Wayne, she was Martha Arkham, and “The Batman” portrays both families as Gotham aristocracy. They are more than just families; they are a dynasty, the Roosevelts or the Kennedys of Gotham. The children of these outrageously wealthy Gotham families meeting and eventually getting married kind of makes sense in light of that.
In comic books, Martha Wayne is not typically an Arkham descendant. She is typically referred to by her maiden name, Martha Kane (indeed, her name was originally Martha Kane but was changed to Martha Wayne since some authors are lazy). However, the Martha Arkham idea has some historical support. The graphic novel “Batman: Earth One” reveals that Martha is a member of the Arkham family and offers readers a fresh, revised account of Batman’s well-known origins. Indeed, Matt Reeves appears to have taken more than a few cues from the comic book “Earth One,” in which Alfred is a former soldier who now uses a cane and Thomas Wayne is campaigning for mayor (elements that are also included in Reeves’ film “The Batman”).
The Arkhams aren’t given much more information in “The Batman,” but I enjoy how the movie hints at the family’s old-school past in the city and how it gives lots of potential for further investigation in subsequent movies and TV shows. Reeves and team have created a rich, expansive environment for their Caped Crusader to explore in using the comics.