At long last, the peerless Wayne family reputation has cracked: The latest episode of the critically acclaimed Batman: The Telltale Series video game was released on Tuesday, and the big twist at the end of the episode reveals that Bruce Wayne’s parents were actually part of Gotham’s elite criminal families. I know!
While this is a bold new direction for the Wayne family story, it’s a direction that is long overdue in the comics.
It’s not that Thomas and Martha Wayne have suddenly become gun-toting burglars. Instead, Telltale Games have chosen to retcon Thomas Wayne as a greedy patriarch with deep ties to Gotham’s criminal underground. Using his wealth, status, and political connections, Thomas Wayne eliminates his enemies in order to gain control of their wealth and assets. Enemies like the Cobblepot family who, as the game reveals, were threatened by Thomas Wayne, Gotham’s mayor, and the Falcone mafia to sell their land and assets.
When Inverse previewed Batman: The Telltale Series at E3 2016, the game’s writers explained they would be taking some pretty serious liberties with the source material in order to create a truly original Batman story. The decision to turn Thomas Wayne into a criminal leader fixes one of the biggest problems with the Wayne family story: They were somehow so immaculately moral despite living in the most corrupt city in fiction this side of Blüdhaven.
The idea of Gotham having a network of elite criminal families isn’t new. Fox’s Gotham recently introduced the Court of Owls, a syndicate that is comprised of Gotham’s elite who use their wealth and status to control the city. The only family that refused to cooperate with the Court was the Waynes, who maintained their morality despite being friends with many members of the Court.
Long has the Wayne family’s strong moral high ground required a leap in logic, as their status would put them in direct contact with many of Gotham’s criminal elite. Telltale Games is doing what many Batman stories should have done by acknowledging that just because Bruce Wayne is virtuous, doesn’t necessarily mean that his family has to be held up to the same standards.