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Valkyrist

Arya Stark is Batman (and other wild ASOIAF theories)

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YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMcVr_y1-io



This is called the “Arya is Batman” theory, and rather than addressing a specific mystery in the story, it is more a general theory of how Arya Stark’s character arc might align with Bruce Wayne in the Batman comics. I’m going to read an extract from a Batman: Origins comic, but I’m going to replace the name Bruce Wayne with Arya Stark, and see if you can tell difference. I think it’s been taken from Year One, but I could be wrong. Anyway, so the panel reads: “Arya Stark learned the power of fear as a girl, watching in frozen horror as his parents, two of Westeros’ leading citizens, were brutally murdered. Arya swore a solemn vow to avenge their deaths. Relying less upon her family’s name than on his iron will, Arya travelled the globe, gradually training her mind and body to the peak of human perfection while studying under the best warriors, thieves and fighters the world had to offer.”



Now, if anyone has ever heard Martin talking in interviews, or read any of his autobiographical writing in Dreamsongs, you learn pretty quickly that he credits comic books with stoking his imagination as a child, to the point where he would write his own comic books and sell them to his friends, and then later submit them to fanzines to be published. Now, while the influence of modern fantasy writers like Tolkien and Jack Vance are fairly evident in his work, I would argue that there are some distinct parellels between the character arc of Arya Stark, and DC Comics’ Bruce Wayne, which could illuminate her fate in future books.



As I mentioned, the fact that she witnesses both of her parents die (albeit on separate occasions) is one such parallel, but another is that, in her quest for vengeance, Arya eventually finds herself at the headquarters of the Faceless Men, whom I think we could interpret as Martin’s version of the League of Assassins, or as they are called in the movie Batman Begins, the League of Shadows. Like the League of Shadows, the Faceless Men are an order of highly-skilled shape-shifting ninjas who act as a check against all of the great powers of the world, most notably Valyria. In Batman Begins, Ra’s Al Ghul, describes the guild thusly: “Gotham’s time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die. This is the most important function of the League of Shadows. It is one we’ve performed for centuries. Gotham… must be destroyed.”



The reoccurring example of civilizational decadence we hear throughout A Song of Ice and Fire is of course the Valyrian Freehold, which at one point was threatening to enslave the entire continent of Essos. And yet, four hundred years ago, without warning or reason or explanation, Valyria was suddenly destroyed in event ominously referred to as the doom. Now, we know that Braavos had always opposed that city, having been founded by refugees and escaped slaves fleeing the Valyrian expansion. However, the Kindly Man explains to Arya that it was the first Faceless Men who gave the gift of death to the most desperate slaves toiling in the Valyrian mines, and then later to their masters as well, leading many fans to speculate that the guild was somehow involved in the Doom.



But it has been over 400 years since Valyria fell, and by comparison, the remaining Free Cities are little more than a collection of bickering schoolchildren. I would argue that King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, has become the most recent “breeding ground for suffering and corruption” to catch the Faceless Men’s eye. Like Valyria before it, King’s Landing’s power has begun to poison the rest of the world, reducing Westeros to a perpetual warzone, forcing hundreds of refugees across the Narrow Sea, and most egregious of all, refusing to repay their debts to the Iron Bank. And so, the Faceless Men must step in to restore the balance, and tear it down. Given the identical way he employ children spies, one could even speculate that Varys is their man on the inside. In that they are in fact the ones orchestrating the reinstalment of the Targaryen dynasty. This would seem at odds with their anti-dragon mission statement, but it might be counteracted by Daenerys’ campaign to free slaves. Regardless, the Faceless Men probably already have a plan in motion to remove her dragons from the equasion, in the form of the Alchemist. This doesn’t necessarily mean they would be against a Targaryen dynasty, especially if it restored peace and stability west of the Narrow Sea. Or perhaps Littlefinger is their man, given that his sigil is the Titan of Braavos.



Regardless, at this point in the story, Arya is still being trained by the Faceless Men. Specifically, she is learning the art of theatricality and deception to ensnare her targets. It is difficult to say what Arya eventual fate might be. If she follows Bruce Wayne’s arc, there will be a point where the Faceless Men will ask her to do something against her morals, or something that conflicts with her Stark identity, which she continues to nourish (for example, when she kills Dareon). At that point, she may abandon the Faceless Men and become a free agent. Regardless, I think that, like Bruce Wayne, and also like Sandor Clegane, whom she saw consumed by hatred of his brother, Arya journey will be about coming to terms with her family’s murders (rather than running away from it), and choosing to pursue justice (like her father), rather than vengeance (like her mother).



One of the ways I think Arya has dealt with the Red Wedding, in a similar way to Jon and Sansa, is by disconnecting from her Stark identity. In Batman Begins, R’as al Ghul says to his pupil: “I know the rage that drives you. That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved one is just… poison in your veins. And one day, you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you would be spared your pain.” Under the Kindly Man’s tutelage, Arya becomes a blank canvas, ready to assume the guise of anyone (or rather no one), to enact the Faceless Men’s will. Her only link to the past is the memory of her brother Jon, who she knows is still alive, and keeps hidden the sword he gifted her the day she departed Winterfell.



Another question to consider regarding Arya’s fate in books 6 and 7 will be how Martin chooses to reinsert her back into the main plot. One possibility is that she will be contracted to assassinate an important character in the series. I had three guesses, but you guys might have others:


  1. The first possibility is Daenerys. The main rationale there is that the Faceless Men are utterly opposed to Dany’s revived, dragon-backed, Valyrian empire. Or alternatively, Dany’s enemies (such as the Volunteens) contract the Faceless Men to do the deed. However, they need to be able to take out the queen and her dragons in a single blow. So, following this line of thought, when the Jaqen returns from Oldtown with his dragon-slaying manual, Arya and her old mentor would take a trip to Meereen to do the deed. The reason they would send Arya in particular is because Dany is known to have a weakness for children. She sees them as fragile things that need to be protected. The thought of killing them, even as hostages, distresses her. Also, Arya has played that part before, when she posed as a peasant girl while serving Roose Bolton. Dany fears the massive armies beyond her Walls, not the children bringing her food and drawing her baths.
  2. The second possible target, is Robert Arryn (or Sweetrobin): If there’s one man in Westeros with enough coin to hire a Faceless Man, it’s Littlefinger. After wedding Harrold Hardyn to Alayne Stone, only the meek little Lord of the Eyrie prevents him from complete domination of the Vale. Because they are both operating under false identities, the Faceless Men wouldn’t realise that Arya “knows” Alayne Stone. However, once the two sisters were in the same room together, they would immediately recognise each other’s faces. This could be a powerful trigger in reinvigorating Arya’s Stark identity (the way Jon’s was reinvigorated by Ramsay’s threat on his little sister). It could also serve as the reason she abandons the Faceless Men. Another point, is that the Eyrie is relatively close to Braavos (as opposed to a trek to Meereen, which could take half a book). While there is a poetic structure to this scenario, it probably makes the least sense in practical terms, since Littlefinger can easily have Robert killed without wasting half a fortune on an assassin. The clincher I suppose is that he can’t be seen to have any possible connection to the murder, and must have a public alibi during its occurrence, in a smilar fashion as Euron Greyjoy. An alternate target that could achieve a similar “meeting of the sisters” is if the the Lords of the Vale decide to pool their money to have Littlefinger himself assassinated. However, this presents a separate problem, since Arya Stark has had at least one conversation with Littlefinger, and this may breach the Faceless Men’s rule about not knowing your target.
  3. The third possibility, is Tommen Baratheon. The main clue here can be found in the final chapter of A Dance with Dragons. King Tommen recalls seeing a black cat outside his windowsill, which suggests both a death omen and Princess Rhaenys’ grisly fate. (i.e. The black cat (Balerion) actually belonged to her, and fled as she was being murdered by Ser Amory Lorch. Like Tommen, she represents the innocents who will have to die so that these high lords can play their game of thrones). Arya is called the “Cat of the Canals”. There is also another clue, but it may be a spoiler for Winds of Winter, so I won’t go into it. But basically, it relates to Stannis Baratheon’s newfound relationship with the Iron Bank.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with one last possible nod to the Batman comics. During book 2, Arya spends a significant amount of time imprisoned in Harrenhal, and her experiences there serve as the most horrifying and transformative of her life. The sigil of Harrenhal belongs to House Whent, and it blazons the castles inner and outer walls. That sigil is a bat.


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That's a very interesting one. Not entirely convincing, but really interesting... I appreciate the effort you put into this.

Some of the premises and clues for this theory seem a little far-fetched, of course, and I can hear the pots cracking a few times... But all in all it's very elaborate and well thought through. One of the very few original ideas lately. Thank you.That gave me something new to think about. Since I'm absolutely no fan of comics, I never made that connection.

Regarding the re-inclusion of Aryas story-arc into the main-plot: I guess it must have sth. to do with the Iron Bank.
Why else bring up
1.) a Braavosi bank,
2.) the FM (who are probably somehow allied with the bank),
3.) Lannister / Iron Throne debts to said bank,
4.)

Tycho Nestoris in the North who sides with Stannis

AND
5.) place Arya (who has still beef with the Lannisters and their allies) in Braavos, training to be a FM?
All these storylines are probably going to merge together into a bigger picture.

ETA: I forgot to mention 4.1.)

Justin Massey

...

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Arya is not Batman -- she's the Count. Then again, I suppose there's a lot of that in Batman too from the sound of it (never actually read it myself).


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Child Of Rich Parents? Check.



Sees said Parents murdered? Check.



Consumed with justice/vengeance as a motivation? Check.



Travels to the East to learn how to be a ninja as a means toward the end of being able to administer that justice/vengeance? Check.




I've been calling Arya Batman for years. Nothing wild about this theory at all IMHO



EDIT: You though, obviously, have thought it out/fleshed it out far more than I ever have. Kudos.



Didn't even think about the Harrenhal/Bat connection. Nice touch


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I like some of the points (especially the House Whent BAT sigil, that's a great find) but I wouldn't try to predict the story based on Batman parallels.

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People are already joking that Jon Snow is Luke Skywalker. Now this.



Does this mean we get to see Tyene Sand in a Harley Quinn outfit ? :leer:





Also while we're at it Bran is totally becoming Professor X.





:idea:



And Stannis is Judge Dredd ?



:drunk:

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People are already joking that Jon Snow is Luke Skywalker. Now this.

Oh I ain't joking around, son. :)

For those of you not "lucky" enough to run into my complete thesis on this subject in the IRC channel the complete list of Stark Parallels is:

Jon: Luke Skywalker/Jesus/Every Iteration Of The Joseph Campbell Monomyth Hero With A Thousand Faces Ever

Arya: Batman

Bran: Professor X

Sansa: The Godfather

Rickon: Colonel Kurtz

I have yet to expand this beyond the borders of House Stark (and am unlikely too, I'm already starting to reach a bit far with the last two) but I hold pretty fast to this list

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I wonder who the Joker would be. Shagwell certainly has the disposition, but he's nowhere near cunning or powerful enough. Maybe it's Lady Stoneheart. "All it takes is one bad day", and what day was worse than the Red Wedding. I would love it if daughter and mother faced off in the Riverlands one last time.



In my wildest fantasy, Arya will (like Batman) reject vengeance, and dedicate her life to justice. She will return to the Riverlands to restore order, reunite with Nymeria and the mega-wolf pack, and hunt down the remnants of the Brotherhood and the Bloody Mummers. Grasping, I know. But a man must have dreams, or else nightmares will fill the void.


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This is very well thought out and better than 90% of the supposed crackpot theories I have seen, plus Arya is such a central character to the plot that I could see Martin going in some general direction towards this. I think you're on the nose with him including House Whent's sigil as a bat, where Arya's most formative experience with the Faceless Men occurred. And I've never heard of the Faceless Men hiring Arya to kill Sweetrobin, and her meeting Alayne, though it makes such obvious sense. Kudos.


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wouldn't Arya return to the North/Winterfell to save it? (her Gotham) ?



I always figured she's gonna overhear something happened to the Lord Commander Of The Knights Watch(Jon) and slip in amongst Justin Massey's sellsword company and return that way.


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