How Batman: Arkham Knight Earned Its Mature Rating

Unless you count some of the edgier comics, the Batman universe tends to top out at about the PG-13 level. That’s why everyone was so shocked to discover that the Caped Crusader’s latest foray into fighting crime, Batman: Arkham Knight, had received a “Mature” rating. Now, thanks to a recent post from the ESRB, we can find out why, exactly, that is.

It should go without saying that there are some light spoilers here. The ESRB does a good job of summing up a game’s content with a handful of identifiers but, for those who want to learn more about the ratings, they often provide a more in-depth look at the content in question. That’s an extremely helpful tool for parents, who might be okay with something like “suggestive themes” if they find out it relates to a more mature joke that will go way over their kid’s head.

For starters, the ESRB has listed a handful of content descriptors for Arkham Knight, including “blood, language, suggestive themes, violence.” At first glance, that seems like par for the course for an Arkham game, a series that doesn’t pull a heck of a lot of punches in the violence department and has been known to throw around the occasional wordy dird or two. In the past, though, the series has received a Teen rating, meaning that something in Arkham Knight had to push the ESRB crew over the edge and into the realm of Mature.

As for the team at Rocksteady Studios, they’ve gone on record as saying that they set out to make a game, not a game with a certain rating. They “told the story they wanted to tell” and that story received a Mature rating. Rather than cut or alter content, the team decided to stay true to its original vision and release the game as is.

Now that I’ve gone through the full listing, I’m still pretty shocked that Arkham Knight received a Mature rating while all previous games in the series were considered Teen. Again, some extremely light spoilers are ahead, so you’ve been double-warned.

So, why the Mature rating? For starters, Batman engages in melee combat , enemies cry out in pain when struck and some scenes are “highlighted by brief slow-motion effects and loud impact sounds.”

The Batmobile, or a “tank-like vehicle,” according to the rating summary, makes an appearance, pined for its machine gun turrets and “rockets” being used to shoot people, as well as its wheels being used to torture an enemy in one sequence. No mention is made of the fact that the gun fires non-lethal rounds and the “rockets” are actually beanbags, but I suppose the violence is enough to make it questionable for kiddos whether it’s actually killing the baddies or not.

Also called out in the summary are people being shot on and off camera, large bloodstains at crime scenes, as well as a person being tortured on a bloody operating table.

There’s also mention of a scene where players “can shoot unarmed characters and a hostage,” which doesn’t sound like Batman’s typical MO and has me curious as to what this scene actually entails.

Finally, the game features neon signs that read “live nude girls” and “XXX,” as well as the words “bitch,” “ass” and “gobshite.” That last one sounds like a real Penguin thing to say, but no source of the comments is provided.

So, there you have it. Obviously, without playing the game, it’s hard to judge how prevalent these instances are and, after the controversy surrounding Arkham City, I have to assume that the writers didn’t straight-up abuse the word “bitch” yet again.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until Arkham Knight releases on June 2 to find out. Until then, care to share your thoughts on whether or not this sounds like a Mature game?

Ryan Winslett

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.