How Batman Is Helping Expand the Fortnite Multiverse
Batman is returning to Fortnite. That might not sound like huge news, considering that practically every pop culture franchise worth its salt has put in an appearance in Epic Games’ massively popular shooter by now. But this crossover is different in that it’s heavily story-driven. Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is a comic book, first and foremost, and one that promises to reveal plenty about the mythology of the Fortnite universe even as it drags Batman, Catwoman and Harley Quinn to The Island.
To get a better sense of how this series will capitalize on these two pop culture juggernauts, we turned to writer Christos Gage and story consultant/Epic’s Chief Creative Officer Donald Mustard. Read on to learn more about the plot of Zero Point and why this crossover is deeper than you might think.
The Secret Origin of Zero Point
The DC and Fortnite universes are sort of natural bedfellows in the sense that both lean into the idea of an interconnected multiverse. The world of Fortnite is specifically presented as a sort of nexus point between realities, allowing characters from any number of familiar universes to drop in and intermingle. It’s sort of like living inside Tommy Westphall’s snowglobe, if everyone were shooting at each other and building towers. Mustard told us that this is exactly why he wanted to bring Batman and other DC heroes into the game as early as possible.
“As we were really early in the process of starting to build the Fortnite story, there were elements where other realities come into play. And Batman was one of the very first characters I was hoping to be able to bring into that,” Mustard said. “And so we approached DC pretty early. I mean, this is years ago and I was saying, ‘Here’s our planning and here’s how the story of Fortnite works, and here’s how Batman could fit into that.'”
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=batmanfortnite-zero-point-1-preview&captions=true”]
According to Mustard, the game’s early DC crossovers came about mostly through conversations with DC’s Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee. Over time, their conversations shifted toward building a bigger and more focused narrative, which is basically the genesis of Zero Point. And as it turns out, Gage was Mustard’s first and really only choice to script the series.
“This is really a core Batman story,” said Mustard. “And at least with the story I’ve been thinking about for what would be a really cool lens into the character Batman and into Catwoman and their relationship. And so we had this arc that we’d thought through, and how it could tie into some of the Fortnite things that were going on and the timeframe where the comic takes place. And, I read a bunch of Chris’ work, and especially your stuff you did on G.I. Joe, which I love so much. I thought that art, that work was so impressive.”
Mustard also had plenty of praise for series artists Reilly Brown and Christian Duce, as they both tackle the challenge of merging the dark and moody world of Batman with Fortnite’s colorful (if equally violent) realm.
“Riley is just, wow, he’s amazing,” said Mustard. “A lot of his work, I think, is reflective of the spirit of that art style that we really go for in Fortnite, but also… we knew that just a lot of the characters and a lot of where you even see Batman evolving and his look, [Reilly] just draws pouches so well. He’s so good at all that detail work, and just the energy and his composition and his storytelling and it’s just so emotive and just so phenomenal.”
How Zero Point Builds on Batman and Fortnite Continuity
Many comic book crossovers tend to fall outside of the traditional continuity of their respective books, but that’s anything but the case with Zero Point. This series is set firmly in the era of DC’s contemporary Batman comics, and its events have a clear bearing on the world of Fortnite. It’s similar to 2020’s Fortnite x Marvel: Nexus War – Thor #1, which springs out of a very specific scene in writer Donny Cates’ monthly Thor comic. Zero Point isn’t quite so specific about where exactly it falls in the Batman timeline, but the costumes alone make it obvious this series is steeped in current DC lore.
“I’ve worked on a lot of licensed properties and as you know, they’re usually not canonical and it’s a thing where you still want to tell a good story and have some fun, but it’s like – this isn’t canon,” said Gage. “In this, Donald from the start said, ‘We’re going to reveal all these secrets about how the Fortnite island works.’ And I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re going to tell this in the comic book and not the game.'”
“And what’s great about working with Donald is, besides his unbridled enthusiasm for everything for Batman and for Fortnite, and just telling stories, is the fact that he never shackles himself with anything,” Gage added. “He had an idea for a story and said, ‘You know what? Comics are a better way to tell this story than in the video game,’ instead of ‘The video game is our company’s main thing, so that’s what we’ve got to do.'”
“This story in particular needed to be told through the lens of the character, which is why a comic book or something like that really made the most sense for it,” said Mustard. “And it also allowed us to reveal a lot of really, really cool Fortnite mythology in a way that’s just, again, better told through the lens of the character and how they’re experiencing it. A lot of things will start to make a lot of sense to people as they’re paying attention to what’s been going on in Fortnite.”
A More Vulnerable Batman
While the full scope of this crossover remains to be seen, Mustard and Gage made it clear Batman’s first challenge after crossing between universes will be the same as many heroes before him. He’ll arrive on The Island without his memories, making his immediate battle for survival all the more difficult. gage bills it as “the ultimate challenge for the World’s Greatest Detective.”
“What would happen if you took a character like Batman, and put them in an unfamiliar place where you couldn’t remember who he was, but still retained all his instincts, and basically the essence who he is even without remembering who he is, and what does that do to a character specifically like Bruce Wayne?” said Mustard. “We just thought that was a really interesting area to explore.”
Batman’s fellow Gothamites will also suffer from the same amnesia problem, and Gage teased the series will take full advantage of that plot point when it comes to exploring the relationship between Batman and Catwoman (who are technically still married these days).
“When you take these people who have this long history and put them in this place where they don’t remember their past it’s like, well, how will their relationship change?” said Gage. “Will they instinctively be enemies, will they be friends, will they be lovers, will they join different factions? The possibilities were endless, and that’s what excited us about the whole thing.”
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=the-25-greatest-batman-graphic-novels-of-all-time&captions=true”]
How Zero Point Connects to the Game
Even though Zero Point is a story being told primarily in comic book form, players shouldn’t assume that means these events won’t be reflected in the game itself. On the surface, Zero Point will be adding new Batman-themed cosmetics and items to the game, with each print issue of the series including a DLC code. But beyond that, the events of the comic will be reflected in the world of Fortnite as the story plays out.
“You can dress up as some of these characters, but again, our lens into it was this is all canon,” said Mustard. “The timeframe in which these issues will be releasing is also concurrent with the events or the things that are happening on the Island at that time. And so you’ll see evidence of Batman in the world of Fortnite that’s fairly concurrent with what you’re seeing in the books. Harley, she’s one of the first people through the rift. The current cosmetic version of Batman is in Fortnite, but as he’s stuck in the loop over and over and over and over again, what he looks like begins to evolve and change as he reacts to this world that he’s in. And that’s something that will be coming. It’s very cool.”
Both Gage and Mustard noted their desire to see the comic induct Fortnite players into the world of DC Comics, and vice versa. That’s one reason the series isn’t quite as specific as the aforementioned Thor story in terms of where precisely it falls in the Batman timeline. Their hope is Zero Point can remain an evergreen graphic novel alongside classic batman books like The Dark Knight Returns.
Gage said, “On my social media, a lot of people who are collectors, who are 30s and up have said, ‘Oh, my kid really loves Fortnite. We’re really going to enjoy this together.’ And that makes me really happy because I think, generations carry on what they love together and bring your families together, and all that. It’s sounds corny, but it makes me happy.”
Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 will release in print and digital formats on Tuesday, April 20.
Batman isn’t the only DC hero putting in an appearance in Fortnite this year. Epic recently added a Flash skin modeled after the Arrowverse TV series. The game is also bringing in Ellen Ripley and the Alien Xenomorph.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.