There’s a lot of story packed into the four games in the Batman Arkham series, and with the next chapter of it set to unfold in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, we thought it was time for a catch-up. With a vast cast of iconic characters and plenty of twists and turns along the way, it can be fairly easy to forget everything that happened in Gotham so far, nevermind what it may all mean for Metropolis. Don’t worry though, we’re here to tell you about all the important stuff in as succinct a way as we can.

Arkham Origins

The one game in the series not made by Rocksteady, but instead WB Montreal, is chronologically the first: Arkham Origins. Set two years into his career, Origins sees Batman survive one snowy night in Gotham. On Christmas Eve, organised crime lord Black Mask places a $50million bounty on the Dark Knight, and eight of the world’s deadliest assassins compete for the prize.

After fending off attacks from Killer Croc, Electrocutioner, and Deathstroke, Batman learns from the Penguin that Black Mask has apparently been murdered. After investigating the scene of the crime and raiding the Gotham City Police’s databases, Batman concludes that Black Mask was not murdered, but in fact kidnapped by a theatrical new villain who goes by the name of the Joker. Posing as Black Mask and taking control of his criminal empire, it was actually the Joker who put out the contract on Batman’s life.

The Caped Crusader tracks down and apprehends the Joker. He is incarcerated at Blackgate, but his imprisonment doesn’t last long. After inciting a riot, the Joker takes over the prison and forces Batman and the GCPD to intervene.

In a final confrontation, Batman finds Joker in an electric chair wired up to Bane’s heartbeat. Joker offers a choice: either kill Bane, or allow him to live and use his heartbeat to charge up the chair and electrocute the Joker. By using electrical gauntlets, Batman manages to stop Bane’s heart and trick the Joker into believing Batman has killed him. After reviving and capturing Bane, Batman finally subdues Joker and has him arrested.

Arkham Asylum

Arkham Asylum opens with a captured Joker being escorted to the titular institute by an older, more experienced Batman. The caped crusader is suspicious of his arch-enemy, who claims that he’s allowed himself to be caught as part of some grand scheme. Well, as quick as you can say “holy vindication, Batman!”, Harley Quinn hijacks security and sets the Clown Prince’s plan in motion.

As Batman deals with escaped supervillains and Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it’s revealed that Arkham’s doctor, Penelope Young, has been experimenting on Bane. After burying the burly mumbler under half a ceiling, Batman learns that Dr Young is developing Titan, a more potent version of the Venom steroid coursing through Bane’s veins. Joker wants to use this drug to build his own army of super soldiers, so naturally Batman has to put a stop to this. He rescues Dr Young from the clutches of Victor Zsasz before he can strike another notch, but… she is killed seconds later in an explosion.

Batman discovers that the Joker is producing Titan from genetically engineered plants in the Arkham Botanical Gardens. He consults sometimes foe, currently friend, Poison Ivy for help in creating an antidote. Shockingly, the spores needed for one are in a less than ideal place, the sewer lair of Killer Croc. While Batman is on the hunt for them, Joker injects Ivy with Titan, causing giant mutated plants to swarm the island. After socking Croc, Batman manages to create a single dose of antidote just before Ivy’s plants destroy his equipment. This is already turning into quite a busy night for The Bat, but it isn’t over yet.

After defeating his sometimes friend, currently foe, Poison Ivy and her giant plants, Batman is lured by the Joker to the visitor centre where a party is waiting for him, along with a captured Commissioner Gordon. Diving in front of a shot of Titan meant for Gordon, Batman takes the dose himself. This angers the Joker, prompting him to take a huge helping of Titan and transform into an actual monster. A roof-top battle takes place and Batman ends his rival’s plan with an explosive punch. Those injected with Titan begin to return to normal as Batman heads back to Gotham City. Meanwhile, a single crate of Titan is seen floating in the ocean.

Arkham City

One year later the landscape is drastically different in Gotham. Blackgate Prison is overflowing, so Mayor Quincy Sharp turns Gotham’s slums into a huge facility called Arkham City to house criminals. But Sharp is merely a puppet for Hugo Strange, who allows for the criminal population to run amok in this new district. Bruce Wayne isn’t the biggest fan of this new arrangement, so holds a press conference to express his concerns, but he is arrested by Strange and his TYGER mercenaries. Wayne is then imprisoned in Arkham City, and all the inmates are told that he’s actually Batman, just to make his day extra special. Strange then continues his preparations for the mysterious “Protocol 10”.

It’s not looking great for Bruce, but after a handy care package from Alfred he resumes his role as the world’s greatest detective. After bumping into Two-Face and Catwoman, Batman visits Joker in the hope that he’ll know what Protocol 10 is all about. Joker is critically ill after pumping his body full of Titan one year earlier. Rather than tell him about Protocol 10, Joker instead performs a transfusion and infects Batman with the Titan disease, and tells him that all of Gotham’s hospitals have also been infected. As if Batman didn’t have enough problems already he now must search for a cure for both himself and the population of Gotham.

This leads the Dark Knight to Mr Freeze, who had been working on a cure before being kidnapped by The Penguin. After defeating Cobblepot, Batman releases Freeze so he can get back to work. One more ingredient is needed for the cure though: the Lazarus Pit-infused blood of Ra’s Al Ghul. After tracking down and defeating the Al Ghul family, Batman returns to Freeze with the final ingredient. A cure is developed, and promptly stolen by Harley Quinn who appears to use it to bring the Joker back to health.

Strange finally reveals the purpose of Protocol 10: to wipe out all of Arkham’s criminal populace. As TYGER troops begin executing inmates, Batman makes his way to Strange and shuts down Protocol 10. Ra’s Al Ghul appears and reveals himself as the true villain behind the Arkham City initiative. Strange sets his lair to self-destruct with his dying breaths, and Ra’s then kills himself to avoid capture by Batman.

Before Bruce has a second to rest, Joker threatens to kill Talia Al Ghul unless he hands over Mr Freeze’s cure. But Joker is stabbed by Talia, who reveals she stole the antidote from Harley. Talia is then suddenly killed by a second Joker, who appears still affected by the Titan illness.

The first, presumed dead, Joker then shapeshifts into Clayface, who has been helping out the Joker all along. Batman defeats Clayface, drinks the antidote, and destroys Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit, all before Joker has a chance to use it to secure everlasting life. Batman considers curing Joker with the last antidote, but the clown strikes and the vial smashes, leaving Joker without a cure. Joker eventually dies from his illness as Batman places his body on top of a police car, leaving the scene in silence.

Arkham Knight

Gotham is a safer place nine months after the death of the Joker, but Scarecrow is back to wreak havoc by unleashing his fear toxin. A full evacuation of the city once again leaves just criminals on the streets.

With the help of Oracle, Batman tracks Scarecrow to Ace Chemicals but is interrupted by a mysterious new villain, the Arkham Knight. After overcoming them, Batman confronts Scarecrow, who reveals he’s kidnapped Oracle. Bats succumbs to fear toxin before he can catch Scarecrow, and experiences vivid hallucinations of the Joker, whom Batman has been having visions of due to the blood transfusion performed 9 months earlier.

After recovering, Batman tracks down the Cloudburst – a machine designed to distribute the toxin on a mass scale – but the Arkham Knight takes it for himself. Batman finds Oracle but as he attempts to rescue her she’s exposed to the toxin and commits suicide out of fear.

Back at Batman’s base, Robin, fearing that Batman is slowly transforming into the Joker, tries to imprison him. But the tables are turned as Robin is locked away instead by a stubborn Batman.

The Cloudburst is used by the Arkham Knight and the city is swamped in fear toxin. Batman once again goes to Poison Ivy for assistance, who agrees to help and clears the skies with the aid of an ancient tree. It’s successful but comes at the expense of Ivy’s life and the Joker’s growing presence inside Batman due to extended exposure to the toxin.

The Dark Knight presses on, discovering that the Arkham Knight is Jason Todd, the previous Robin who was supposedly killed at the hands of the Joker. Instead, he was tortured and transformed into a villain. Batman offers to help him but Todd appears to have lost all faith in him after he was left to die. Todd escapes and Batman confronts Scarecrow once again, where he discovers that Oracle’s death was merely a toxin vision. Batman rescues her, but Scarecrow kidnaps her father, Commissioner Gordon, in response.

Scarecrow then launches an onslaught on the Gotham City Police Department in an attempt to leave Batman without allies. This distraction allows Scarecrow to take Robin hostage while the battle rages. In no position to negotiate, Batman surrenders to Scarecrow in order to save both Gordon and Robin and is taken to what remains of Arkham Asylum. Here, Scarecrow reveals Batman’s true identity to the world while continually exposing him to the toxin. A battle then takes place inside Wayne’s mind between Batman and the Joker. Batman eventually wins and banishes the Joker for good. Todd then arrives to save Batman, who uses the fear toxin on Scarecrow to defeat him.

After Gotham appears to restore itself to a level of normality, Bruce goes home to Wayne Manor and activates the Knightfall Protocol. His home suddenly explodes, presumably killing both him and Alfred. Later, a couple are ambushed in an alleyway but are saved by a mysterious figure who bears a resemblance to Batman.

The Setup for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Five years later, somehow Batman has returned. We don’t know exactly why or how, but he just has (that’s comic heroes for you). This time he’s working as part of the superhero team the Justice League, but things aren’t quite going to plan. The city of Metropolis has been invaded by intergalactic menace Brainiac, and its streets have subsequently turned into a warzone. To make matters worse, the Justice League aren’t doing anything to defend the city because, unfortunately, they’re under the influence of Brainiac’s mind control powers.

That means Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and the rest of the gang need to be stopped, and who better to send in to do the job than Amanda Waller’s ragtag bunch of questionables in Task Force X – better known as the Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, and Captain Boomerang have got to kill them all, including Batman. Will they actually die? Will he fake his death again? We’ll only know if we play.

We already know that the post-game will involve DC’s Elseworlds, allowing for characters from other multiverses to join in the fun. That includes the Joker, despite the previous Arkham games’ version of the clown prince already being dead. Other familiar faces from Gotham are set to return, too, including Penguin, who functions as Metropolis’ arms dealer, and Poison Ivy, who has seemingly been born again thanks to a conspicuous flower bud she left behind in Arkham Knight.

As for what happens next, well, we’ll find out soon when Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League launches on February 2nd and for early access players on January 30th.