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Allow Us To Explain: Hugo Strange

If you have been following gaming or movie news in the past month, you may have come across a man called Hugo Strange. Not only has the psychologist been revealed as a major character in Batman: Arkham City, he keeps being mentioned in the swirling gyre of rumors surrounding Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. (Probably because Tom Hardy has been confirmed to play a role in the movie, but nobody knows who he will be, and so the gears of fan speculation are grinding. Our hopes are pinned sky-high on Tommy Elliot).

We know first hand that there are all kinds of geeks in the world, and not all of their interests overlap, and so fans of The Dark Knight and Batman: Arkham Asylum might be wondering who the heck this obscure Batman villain is, what gives him any appeal, and what his role as antagonist may mean for a plot.

Allow us to explain.

Professor Hugo Strange and the Monsters

Hugo Strange is one of the oldest Batman villains, predating both the Joker and Catwoman. He’s actually older than the Batman series itself, getting his first appearance in Detective Comics a few months before Batman #1 came out. In his second appearance, the brilliant psychologist and scientist creates a small army of monstrous men under his command by mutating the inmates of an insane asylum. When Strange first appeared in comics, Arkham Asylum had not been conceived yet, nor had Gotham City; Batman was the protector of Manhattan.

Does this sound at all familiar to you, players of Batman: Arkham Asylum? What if I told you that Strange captures Batman and attempts to mutate him, leading to a scene where the Dark Knight must manufacture an antidote for himself before he succumbs to the effects? While the Titan formula has an accepted origin in the game that has little to do with Strange, it would not surprise me in the least if this was revealed to be an incomplete truth in the sequel. It seems like an easy way for the writers to tie the second game to the first.

Professor Hugo Strange and … Being Obsessed with Batman

There is another version of Hugo Strange, one with less … pulpy activities, and lately there has been a widely circulated yet unconfirmed rumor that The Dark Knight Rises will be based on a Hugo Strange story arc from the early 90’s titled Prey that embodies this version of the character. We’re not here to comment on whether or not that’s true, but rather simply explain what this other Hugo Strange is like, particularly because the makers of Batman: Arkham City are definitely pulling details from it.

The 90’s Hugo Strange is a man obsessed with Batman, a consultant in a hostile police force’s attempt to hunt down the vigilante, and there is nothing he’d like better than to discover the true identity of that masked man. If a comic book character could be considered a buffalo for the writers of The Dark Knight Rises to use every part of, this aspect of Hugo Strange might be considered a choice cut of meat. The Dark Knight, of course, ended with Batman taking the blame for several murders, running from the cops, and owning his role as a good man with a very evil public record. It would be impossible for the next movie not to address the fact that the police are hunting him.

Rumors of Hugo Strange’s villainy in The Dark Knight Rises are pervasive because they actually make a lot of sense. Nolan is running out of Batman villains who can hobnob with mob dons and don’t have a significant supernatural or super-scientific powers, so fans are more confident with their guesses.

The recent first trailer for Arkham City prominently featured a psychiatrist-obsessed-with-Batman Hugo Strange ordering a SWAT team to attack Batman, which would indicate that the game will have Batman’s battle against the police as a plot point, possibly with at “Oh no a villain knows Batman’s secret identity now!” plot line thrown in for good measure.

Hugo Strange: Bad for Batman. Bad for Gotham City.

- Susana Polo


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