Hugo Strange had a huge advantage against the Dark Knight in Batman: Arkham City, but he seemed to forget about his leverage after the opening sequence and didn’t bring it back up again until the very end. Strange could have done more to try and stop Batman from fighting against him and attempting to stop his plans for Arkham City. Instead, he held on to his secrets for too long and, by the end of the game, never got the chance to share his significant discovery.
[Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Batman: Arkham City.]
Hugo Strange’s backstory, which was shortchanged in Batman: Arkham, includes his time as a doctor in Arkham Asylum before the incident that occurred in the first title. He was run out of Arkham Asylum when rumors surfaced that he was abusing and experimenting on his patients. There was no hard evidence against him, so he was able to bide his time and start manipulating the city of Gotham from behind the scenes, which led to the construction of Arkham City. After Arkham City was finished, he imprisoned all of Gotham’s known criminals, as well as individuals that challenged his political agenda and threatened his grand plan.
At the start of Batman: Arkham City, Hugo Strange revealed to Bruce Wayne that he knew he was Batman. At a press conference, TYGER Security forces closed in on Bruce and knocked him out. He woke up tied to a chair in an empty room under the supervision of Hugo Strange, who was ultimately a disappointing villain in the Batman: Arkham series. Before his escape, Strange reveals that he discovered Batman’s identity and threatened to go public with his secret should the Dark Knight interfere with any of his plans. However, Strange never follows through with this threat and seems to abandon the idea completely as the events within the walls of Arkham City unfold.
Hugo Strange’s appearance in 1977’s “The Dead Yet Live!” perfectly highlighted his obsession with Batman’s identity by indicating the extreme lengths the professor would go in order to find out who the Dark Knight really was. Disguised as Dr. Todhunter, Strange opened a clinic that promised to discretely treat Gotham’s elite. However, Strange deceived the rich and experimented on them using mind control techniques and turning them into monsters that fought Batman. Before learning Todhunter’s true identity, Bruce sought medical treatment for the radiation injuries he sustained fighting Dr. Phosphorus, a villain that hasn’t appeared in a Batman game yet. Upon arriving at the Graytowers medical facility, Bruce is knocked out through chemicals emitted by the nurse’s perfume. Eventually, he woke up stripped of his clothes and alone in a dark room.
After realizing there was no real security in place, Bruce managed to get a hold of his suitcase, which had a secret compartment containing a spare Batsuit. With his suit on, Bruce made his back into Graytowers, which was next to the building he was locked in. Batman is shocked when he arrives and Todhunter peels off his mask to reveal himself as Hugo Strange. Before Batman can capture Strange, he’s bitten by a snake that Hugo gives him the antidote for, but it leaves him weak. With Batman essentially incapacitated, Strange is able to remove his cowl and discover that the Dark Knight is actually Bruce Wayne.
After the opening showing Batman: Arkham City‘s Catwoman Strange captured Batman and made him aware of his discovery. However, his obsession is hardly touched upon. There are several story arcs in a few different series of comics that build on Strange’s discovery and emphasize his obsession with Batman’s true identity. Strange actually reveals Batman’s identity to the supervillains in Gotham after “The Dead Yet Live!”, but he’s met with disbelief. After Robin disguises himself as Bruce while Batman is active, the villains who learned the truth believe Strange to be discredited. From there Strange’s obsession only gets worse, and he develops a desire to get rid of Bruce Wayne and take over for him as Batman to inherit the legends surrounding him.
Strange’s discovery of Batman’s secret identity in Batman: Arkham City could have been taken in a few different directions, but, for some reason, he does almost nothing with the knowledge that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Strange only informs Ra’s al Ghul of this secret in an interaction that’s briefly mentioned at the end of the second title in the Batman: Arkham series. There may be some underlying reason for Strange’s silence, but it’s never explicitly stated or even implied before he dies in his tower inside Arkham City.
In the Arkham series’ storyline, Hugo Strange scarcely mentioned Batman’s identity and never used it against him. His obsession with discovering Batman’s identity and replacing him after he finds out is only briefly acknowledged in his bio and in a conversation just before he died at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul. Furthermore, Strange threatens to reveal Batman’s identity in one of the opening cutscenes of Batman: Arkham City, but then never makes good on that promise despite the Dark Knight’s constant interference. There is no explanation given at any point in the series as to why Strange doesn’t use Batman’s identity against him, but there are a few possibilities that could inform his choice to stay silent, including his secret connection to the League of Shadows.
Although it’s unlikely, Strange might have kept Batman’s secret because he believed him to be too preoccupied with Gotham’s supervillains to try to stop Protocol 10. However, Strange actually did reveal Batman’s secret identity to is Ra’s al Ghul, who explained later that the plan to build and destroy Arkham City was set in motion shortly after. This interaction was likely omitted from the limited comic series that explained what happened between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City to avoid spoilers, but it probably occurred just after the asylum incident. At that time, Strange was in hiding after being accused of severely abusing his patients while working at Arkham Asylum. Strange was told he would eventually take Ra’s al Ghul’s place, a position he previously only acknowledged Batman to be worthy of. This goes along with the idea that Strange wanted to replace Batman. Due to the nature of the League of Shadows, it could be possible that Ra’s al Ghul forbade Strange from going public with his discovery that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Another possibility is that Hugo Strange didn’t consider Batman to be a threat to his plan. Strange’s overconfidence could have stopped him from revealing Batman’s identity because he didn’t believe it necessary at the time. Strange may have wanted to keep his leverage until Batman was a greater threat to his cause. The arrogance Strange displayed could be because he had the plan of Batman: Arkham City‘s Ra’s al Ghul to follow. However, speculation aside, Hugo Strange ultimately seemed to just forget about his threat to Bruce Wayne at the start of the game. Strange ignores every perfect opportunity he gets to reveal Batman’s identity, which could have drastically changed how the events unfolded inside Arkham City.
If Hugo Strange revealed Batman to be Bruce Wayne, he could have caused the initiation of the Knightfall Protocol early. Batman’s failsafe may not have been fully developed at the time the events of Batman: Arkham City occurred, but a version of Knightfall could have been necessary if Strange went public with his secret. This could have also called for more involvement from Batman’s allies, which would have created a perfect transition for the heroes of Gotham Knights to take over for Bruce. Unfortunately, Hugo Strange never brings up Batman’s secret identity or threatens him with it again, and he dies after Protocol 10. Bruce’s Dark Knight persona is later revealed by Scarecrow in Arkham Knight, which may have been an attempt to fix this disappointing oversight.
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Author: Jamie Russo