Cancelled Nolanverse Dark Knight Game Surfaces, Shows Open-World Gotham Before ‘Batman: Arkham’

The Batman hype may still be going strong, but the Caped Crusader was all the rage particularly in the early 2010s. Back then, director Christopher Nolan treated fans to a trilogy of Cristian Bale-led The Dark Knight films, while Rocksteady’s Arkham lineup graced the video games landscape.

But that wasn’t all. On the side, Warner Bros. Games subsidiary Monolith Productions was working on its own Batman game set in Nolan’s universe, codenamed Project Apollo. It didn’t see the light of the day, and in its place was the studio’s 2014 breakout hit, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

A decade on, gameplay footage and assets from the cancelled Nolanverse title have been unearthed. X / Twitter user SpideyRanger took to the platform to share an extended look at what it could have been, attributing the source to the Internet Archive with a reply crediting an individual called Back2Life for finding and posting the videos.

As noted by SpideyRanger, some of the mechanics in Project Apollo will look familiar to those who’ve played the Arkham titles, including stealth and combat sequences, as well as traversal tools like a grappling hook. There’s also a sleuthing and investigation segment that looks like an early version of the system in Rocksteady’s trilogy (Detective Vision, anyone?).

Additionally, the leaked clips unveils the studio’s vision of an open-world Gotham City, with bat-symbol icons highlighting active crimes or quests that the Caped Crusader could pursue. More notably, it would have debuted the Nemesis System feature, wherein enemies retain memories of past encounters.

The footage is available to watch on the Internet Archive, marking the first time that fans are able to check it out. Project Apollo, meanwhile, isn’t exactly fresh news — an earlier investigation by Liam Robertson of DidYouKnowGaming some years ago uncovered important details about its development process, such as its 18-month-long gestation phase and the reason behind the cancellation. According to the investigation, Nolan didn’t officially sign off on the project, so Warner Bros Games had to can it.

Monolith Productions would later go on to develop Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War. A new Wonder Woman title is currently in the works at the studio.