WARNING: This article contains frank discussion of the story within Rocksteady’s upcoming game SUICIDE SQUAD KILL THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, including its ending and even unannounced post-launch content. If you do not wish to encounter spoilers, you are advised not to read this. Proceed at your own risk.
- An avalanche of misleading leaks and rumors has plagued Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Justice League (including Batman) survives, and the Arkhamverse continues.
- The full game includes a clear path forward for the Arkhamverse and a touching tribute to the late Kevin Conroy.
On November 20th, Rocksteady Studios — best known for the “Arkham” series of Batman video games — sent out an e-mail to their mailing list announcing a private playtest for their upcoming title SUICIDE SQUAD KILL THE JUSTICE LEAGUE.
This “closed technical alpha” was intended to stress test the game’s servers before its launch in February, a necessary step for the studio’s first foray into the “online only” space. Server issues could leave players wholly unable to play, spelling disaster for any debut, no matter how promising — a fate recently suffered by Payday 3 this past September.
Those participating in this test would be subject to a strict NDA forbidding all discussion of their time in-game, so as to ensure WB’s marketing strategy could continue unfettered and keep any potential complaints of server instability private.
How Did We Get Here?
Rocksteady and publisher WB Games had already faced challenges securing positive coverage for Suicide Squad. 2 years worth of delays left fans understandably concerned, and raw footage accompanying trailers gave an unflattering impression of the game’s ability to distinguish itself from countless other “games as a service” looters that had entered the market and quickly failed.
This past January, a screenshot appeared on 4chan that clawed back the veil over the game’s monetization plan to reveal battle passes — a cardinal sin to gamers that had taken to reflexively rejecting live service titles in the many years since Suicide Squad had begun development as a WB Montreal title around the release of 2015’s Arkham Knight.
Suicide Squad is Rocksteady’s first venture away from the Gotham corner of DC Comics and introduces a vast array of characters from Superman (Nolan North) and Lex Luthor (David Bateson) to The Flash (Scott Porter) and King Shark (Joe Seanoa).
Like all Suicide Squad stories, the titular team is a ragtag group of imprisoned villains assembled against their will by US government black ops for a seemingly impossible suicide mission — hence the name. Complete this task and their sentence is reduced. Fail or refuse to complete it and die.
This mission takes our reluctant heroes to the famed DC megacity Metropolis only to find it’s been ravaged by the alien invader Brainiac (Jason Isaacs) while they’ve been imprisoned. Brainiac has corrupted the Justice League and turned them into willing soldiers in his war against Earth.
The titular squad’s task? Kill them all, save the world. A tantalizing but seemingly impossible challenge for a group of established villains, most of whom had already lost to these superheroes in encounters that ended up landing them in prison in the first place.
No one was expecting beloved voice actor Kevin Conroy, a 30-year veteran in the role of Batman, to pass away unexpectedly from a private battle with intestinal cancer in November of 2022. This made Suicide Squad his final unpublished performance as the caped crusader and immediately recontextualized his involvement in the project.
Players who had grown up with Conroy’s Bruce Wayne would have to kill him as his final sendoff. Or would they?
The Tide Begins To Turn
Despite the NDA and WB Games’ reputation for enforcing them, early impressions from the first day of Suicide Squad’s closed alpha were difficult to repress. My own messages were full of players raving about their time in Metropolis, with many saying they’d been turned from skeptics into believers — with the pre-orders to prove it.
This praise reached every corner of the game — the writing was laugh out loud funny, the multiplayer (including full crossplay and cross-progression) was seamless, the gunplay was engaging, and the expansive traversal options across the game’s roster made exploring the open world gratifying and contributed to ensuring each playable character felt unique.
There were criticisms — namely high cooldowns on traversal feeling restrictive, and combat being standard fare for a third person shooter. Importantly, the alpha limited players to a point part-way through chapter 2 of the launch campaign’s 6, before players gain access to traversal mods, weapon customization, and any of the game’s numerous combat modifiers and options that were the focus of last week’s “Insider” video, which would seem to at least address these issues if not alleviate them.
Those numerous delays had afforded Rocksteady a lot of time to bolster the game’s feature set, and it seemed to have paid off. For the first time since Suicide Squad’s announcement, the discourse surrounding the game was undeniably positive. But it wouldn’t last long.
And There It Is
Before the closed alpha had even wrapped, a screenshot of text purporting to tell the rest of the game’s narrative began making the rounds online. Even at face value, it was full of plainly stated omissions (“idk why,” “something happens,” “someone (probs Deadshot),” “can’t remember why,” “maybe red sun?”) and bizarre assertions like Superman returning to Krypton — his destroyed birth planet and the most common element of his origin story across mediums.
The source of this leak was “DARRIUS APPRECIATION SERVER” on Discord, where many of the more notable members of the Mortal Kombat Leaks community sought refuge after their previous server was shuttered following legal scrutiny from WB Games surrounding the release of Mortal Kombat 1 this past September.
This loose retelling of the story (later described as being recalled from memory after a brief listen to a selection of cutscene dialogue) and accompanying visual assets were shared by Mortal Kombat modder and dataminer Mophead, and subsequently spread on Reddit and in public Discord servers by MistahJ17.
Many across social media have spent the weeks since these leaks debating their authenticity, but a black and white, “real or fake” paradigm muddies the waters and affords bad actors the opportunity to rage-bait clicks out of either perspective. It’s just not that simple.
Death Becomes Him
The main element of this leak that caused outrage was the assertion that not only is Conroy’s Batman indeed killed, but also that he gets killed in a disrespectful manner by Harley Quinn specifically.
An image showing Harley pointing a gun at Batman appeared online, and then audio purporting to include those final moments. A video combining the two went viral and sparked condemnation from major YouTubers like DreamcastGuy. Batman is dead, so Rocksteady “ruined the Arkhamverse,” as you might have heard.
But he’s not dead.
Datamining Unreal Engine 4 games isn’t particularly difficult. The engine is used across the industry, so documentation and existing tools are everywhere. But what you uncover, especially from a game you’ve never played, has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Some online were quick to draw the parallel to Rocksteady’s last title, Arkham Knight, which included hallucination-induced cutscenes showing all manner of potential outrage-farming moments if indeed they had been spread online before the game’s launch through similar circumstances. If only more had heeded that warning.
Make no mistake, the Justice League survives the events of Suicide Squad. From what I’ve been able to uncover through my own data mining and a month of research (and counting), each “death” is presented with several hints to the audience that they’re fakeouts.
Flash’s death takes place away from prying eyes with many questioning whether it even happened. Later in the game, Task Force X (the in-universe name for the Suicide Squad) attempts to storm Brainiac’s ship, but are thwarted by a shield apparition created by Green Lantern.
After Deadshot (who famously never misses) finally lands the killing blow, Green Lantern falls to his death — but the shield stays up. “What, did you miss?” Captain Boomerang asks. Deadshot laughs knowingly under his breath.
And sure enough, both heroes return in seasons 2 and 3 of post-launch, respectively. By the end of the Brainiac storyline set up during the base campaign, the Justice League are reunited and get their revenge against the multiversal supervillain — and Task Force X. These piecemeal reintroductions also mark perfect opportunities for the Justice League to be playable, however briefly.
The Art Of Being Careful
There’s a lot that’s outright omitted from the build distributed during the closed alpha that myself, Mophead, and others have access to. I spoke earlier about Flash and Green Lantern surviving, but I don’t know exactly how Flash survives. Does Captain Boomerang spare him? Did he decline to confirm the kill, allowing Barry to secretly recover in hiding? I don’t know yet! If this information is in this build at all, I’ve yet to spot it.
But if you’re thinking there’s only bits and pieces here, you are wrong. There are over 60 hours of dialogue alone stashed in the asset packages from the alpha client, an overwhelming majority of which consist of unsorted files with hashes for names.
There are conclusions that one can draw, but they require an immense amount of research over the course of weeks if not months, and early conclusions can be deceptive as new findings will frequently broaden one’s understanding beyond what had once seemed like facts. And yes, this absolutely applies to my own statements no less than any others.
For example — my first dive into the executable had me convinced Killer Croc could be the first post-launch playable character, but I see now that he’s at least a year away. That’s the difference research makes.
And sure enough, after continuing to poke around, Mophead would stumble across that dreaded brand of contradictory evidence that keeps headline-grabbing data miners up at night. A public apology soon followed, but the damage was done. In fact, many outright refused to believe him. The Arkhamverse was “ruined,” and there was no putting that genie back in the bottle.
It Gets Worse
Comic book fans, like most nerds, have never met a death threat they didn’t like. A cursory glance at the reactions to the viral Batman “death” “video” turned up bomb threats, encouragement of self-harm, you name it. The conversation surrounding Suicide Squad soured overnight, and Rocksteady developers were paying the price.
Furthermore, this created an avenue for Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League to become the latest front in the “woke” culture war. Here’s a female character (wearing a shirt! [gasp]) killing a fan-favorite male hero. Gotta be SJW woke cultural marxism communist LGBT propaganda turning the frogs gay!
Wonder Woman has an aquiline nose? Woke. Amanda Waller is played by Debra Wilson? Woke. Poison Ivy is reincarnated as a child after dying in Arkham Knight, and also that child “looks like Greta Thunberg”? Woke, woke, and woke.
And it’s gotten even worse since. In the last few days, another clip has gone viral featuring Harley Quinn discovering this new Poison Ivy, which was purported by some to be pedophilic in nature. An edited version of this clip transitioning into a scene from South Park parodying To Catch A Predator racked up over 5 million views on Twitter in less than a week. But what exactly about this was so pedophilic, fans in the comments couldn’t quite agree on.
Some pointed to this newly reborn Ivy saying that despite having no memory of Harley, her pheromones remember her — but this incarnation of Ivy is acknowledged to be more plant than human (if human at all) in that same scene, and plants use pheromones for every social function.
Others pointed to Harley referring to Ivy as “fun size,” a term increasingly associated with pornography starring actors with smaller frames — but even the reliably filthy Urban Dictionary doesn’t list anything similar for “fun size” until its 9th definition, buried in the second page of entries.
The edited video seemed to point to its last line of dialogue as the sole culprit. “You really don’t remember me? Harley and Ivy forever, in ten-story burning letters?” In the full scene, when Ivy answers no, Harley simply makes a sour expression for a moment and the scenario moves along without incident.
To the outraged masses, this was an attempt from Rocksteady to shoe-horn a romance between the two characters into Arkhamverse canon, as exists in some interpretations of the pair.
The Arkham series began at a time when DC had yet to canonize their relationship, introducing Harley firmly in league with Joker and leaving little wiggle room for her and Ivy to form a bond. They are acknowledged as familiar with one another, but it’s only non-canon tie-in comic books that cement them as friends.
From what I’ve seen of the full game via data mining, that’s exactly what that scene is intending to convey. As the squad decompresses from the encounter in this viral clip, Harley remarks that she’d rather not talk about her “only real friend, who she thought was dead, coming back as a kid who hardly recognizes her.” Later dialogue similarly implies there was nothing romantic between Arkhamverse Harley and the late Poison Ivy.
Interestingly, what no far right influencer sharing that clip found creepy was King Shark referring to this same child Ivy as “the vegetarian option“. Perhaps because the character isn’t Jewish, there were no swaths of blue checkmarks declaring Jews pedophiles with edited photos of King Shark alongside the Star of David, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and Jeffrey Epstein. That treatment gets reserved for Harley Quinn.
And you’ll never guess how this leads to my next point.
How We Really Got Here
Word of Suicide Squad’s final delay leaked out via contradictory stories from Jason Schreier, Jez Corden, and Jeff Grubb back in March of this year. Depending on who you asked, the game was either getting pushed to late 2023 or early 2024, for polish or to overhaul major features. Every notable insider was getting in on the story, and competing schools of speculation ran amuck.
But one thing was for sure — the confirmation was coming soon because the game’s release date was only 2 months later. Or so one would think. It took WB Games a whopping 5 weeks to confront the rumors and officially confirm a delay. And worse still, they’d enter a 7-month-long communications moratorium as a matter of policy that very same day.
And just as this agonizingly long silence finally ended and the game re-emerged with the first in a series of video docs, Warner Bros. Discovery suspended all Twitter advertising, effectively kneecapping a crucial leg in the game’s social media presence when it needed attention the most.
This year-long absence of official comms from the public sphere has created a discourse vacuum around Suicide Squad, allowing all manner of narratives to take hold with shockingly little pushback or even competition from WB and Rocksteady.
Warner’s Twitter advertising stoppage was prompted by a series of tweets from Elon Musk wherein he endorsed the plainly antisemitic “great replacement” conspiracy theory — the belief that Jewish elites foster “anti-white” sentiment in media and public policy as part of a greater effort to destabilize western societies and cultures for profit.
This frequently includes the casting of actors of color in historically white roles, with believers pointing to a laundry list of “Jewish” media executives as the culprits (a list that always includes non-Jews mistakenly identified as Jewish, as well as people of lower-rung positions that hold no power over those decisions).
Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel
These same conspiracy theorists have had their sights on Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League since its announcement — the game features a black man using the Deadshot mantle, and not the white man that appeared in Arkham City. This is directly addressed in the narrative and is the reason behind Deadshot’s grudge against Green Lantern which fans have seen across the game’s suite of trailers and promotional videos.
But with blood in the water from the “plot leak” reaction centered around Batman’s death, these conversations and others have spread online like wildfire, and normalized absurd, destructive ideologies, even as many of their biggest assertions collapse under the weight of reality.
For Suicide Squad, this isn’t a problem that’s going away any time soon. Those same people will find new outrageous reaches to cling on to. Many long-time Arkhamverse content creators have already declared war on Rocksteady and courted a new reactionary audience in the process.
The stage is set for yet another exhausting, drawn-out discourse with the usual suspects and their proxies all rehashing the same tired lines in the same tired arguments. I saw a photo of Anita Sarkeesian in the comments of that edited Poison Ivy clip. In case you weren’t aware, we’re stuck in a time loop.
So far, David Zaslav’s answer to this problem has been to stay the course and advertise Warner Bros. Discovery’s properties on social media platforms more consistent with his values, like Instagram and Facebook. A recent Human Rights Watch report uncovered rampant, systemic censorship of Palestinian content on both platforms as part of a concerted effort on Meta’s part to control the narrative surrounding Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.
Fans alarmed by Kevin Conroy’s apparent disrespect can rest easy this holiday. Not only is Batman safe and sound, but he also makes for a delicious temporary villain — a twist on the character Conroy relished.
Eagle-eyed players can make a game out of spotting Batman in the distance stalking them throughout Metropolis. His boss fight is also sure to be a showstopper, with brief glimpses in the trailer during the Game Awards eliciting huge reactions online.
My own datamining reveals that Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League includes touching tributes both to Kevin Conroy as well as Arleen Sorkin, the original voice of Harley Quinn, who tragically passed away this year after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Rocksteady went to great lengths to honor their memories, and speaking bluntly as a fan, it’s been depressing to see fans make sport of them purely on the basis of misconceptions and outright lies — so much so that I’ve broken my rule about sharing story spoilers for the sake of correcting the record.
What these fans should be upset by is the swaths of disinformation agents manipulating their passion to stir up anger against “woke” “pedophile” Jews and queer people. Sorkin’s iconic boisterous persona birthed the character of Harley Quinn, the most popular female Jewish character (not to mention LGBT) in the history of comics. Conroy came out as gay in 2016 and cited his struggles with self-acceptance as a major influence in his performance of Batman — a character created by a Jewish man, Bill Finger.
Turning Conroy’s death into a vector for attack against not only these groups but also the very people attempting to pay tribute to him is deeply ironic and unspeakably vile. That’s disrespecting a legacy.
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍