SDCC: Court of Owls Co-Creator Scott Snyder Helped Gotham Knights Devs Understand The Implications Of Kill Batman

Things are ramping up for WB Games Montreal's Gotham Knights ahead its October 25 release. This weekend, the studio debuted a new Batgirl trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, which showed off Barbara's armored suit and special abilities, including a transforming weapon that effortlessly swaps between a police baton and a set on nunchucks.

Batgirl, along with her Bat-Siblings Nightwing, Robin, and Redhood, have a history with the main antagonist of the Gotham Knights, the Court of Owls, a shadowy cabal of Gotham’s rich elite. The introduction of the Court in 2011's Batman #2 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo recontextualized everything we know about the history of Gotham City and the Bat-Family, whose lives, it turns out, have been influenced and manipulated by the Court all along.

While the Court of Owls have played a role outside of comics, both in the live-action series Gotham and in the DC Animated Universe film Batman vs. Robin, Gotham Knights will expand the lore of the Court further than any previous adaptation. In a roundtable interview at Comic-Con, I asked Gotham Knights creative director Patrick Redding about working with Scott Snyder to develop their own Court of Owls story without having Batman himself to fall back on. Redding says that shortly after DC and Warner Brothers approved the concept of Gotham Knights, he had the opportunity to sit down with Snyder to talk through his vision for the Court.

"I got to spend a day with him, gave him the initial pitch in advance, walked him through what we had in mind, gave him the overarching backbone of the storyline," Redding explained. "It was fantastic. If you’ve ever watched Scott’s YouTube channel, you’ll know he has no problem spending 90 minutes diving deep into storytelling or into aspects of a particular world, so having him as someone we could bounce ideas off of, even for a single session, was actually tremendously powerful. He helped us frame and really understand the implications of killing Batman probably better than anyone else I’ve spoken to outside of the team."

Expanding the lore of the Court of Owls was necessary to tell the story of Gotham Knights, and while Redding and his team were committed to honoring what Snyder and Capullo originally created, they knew they would have to take the concept a lot further when adapting the villains for a game. Luckily, Snyder was able to offer his perspective and some guidance.

"I think he felt like there was a lot of room to play with this as an idea. Yes, we’re bringing certain iconic elements from his story to life. You will absolutely recognize those elements when you see them. But at the same time, he understood, as someone that plays games, we would have to adapt certain ideas. How do Talons work? Is there more than one kind of Talon? When he and Greg [Capullo] were working on the storyline, that could be handled in a more mysterious, shadowy kind of way, where there’s kind of range to how that unfolds over the course of the history of the Talon. For us, we needed to solidify it into clear, distinct buckets so that we could build it so we could make it work and balance it against the capabilities of our players. So I think making sure that we had a dialogue with Scott about that early on was super important. It gave us a sense of the room that we had to play with."

Snyder also made an appearance during the Gotham Knights panel later in the day and reiterated that Gotham Knights was taking the Bat-Family and the Court of Owls in new and exciting directions. For Snyder, the Court of Owls partially represented the legacy of the Caped Crusader and the intimidation he felt taking over such a monolithic character as a new Batman writer. In Gotham Knights, it's Bruce's children that have to rise up to that challenge. "We're bigger than even your mentor," Snyder said, imitating the Court. "What makes you think you can stop us?"

Gotham Knights is scheduled to launch October 25 on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. For more on Gotham Knights, check out our interview with Christopher Sean, who plays Nightwing in the game. He had a surprising amount to say about the size of Nightwing's cheeks.

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