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What Is The Court Of Owls?

If the newly released trailers for the video game Gotham Knights and Matt Reeves' The Batman are any indication, we're going to be hearing the name "Court of Owls" a lot in the next couple of years. It's a name bound to evoke one of two reactions — comic book enthusiasts will already be salivating in excitement, while everyone else asks, "What's that?"

A hoo's hoo of the Gotham underworld. A regular hoot-enanny of despicable deeds. As social clubs go, it's a real pellet cleanser. These are just a few of the show-stopping descriptors that the Court of Owls definitely would have used, if only they'd been around during Batman's Adam West glory days. Unfortunately (or more accurately, unfort-hoo-nately), this nefarious secret society of Machiavellian skullduggery didn't pop up until the DC Universe's "New 52" reboot back in 2011. Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, they were first introduced as a fresh threat to the Dark Knight, a cabal of Gotham's elite, nestled behaviorally somewhere between the Illuminati and every upper-crust bad guy from The Purge. 

Anonymity is their calling card. Owl masks are their aesthetic. Despite existing for centuries, their very existence is presented as questionable — Bruce Wayne, being a Nosy Nellie, is shown to have had suspicions dating back to his childhood, but even his remarkable detective acumen doesn't turn up any evidence. That news again: the world's greatest detective needs a 30-year head start before he can even confirm that the group is a thing. They're wily, those owls.

To Court death itself

The Court of Owls, like so many secret societies, is all about power. That said, they generally seem to avoid the stumbling points common among other villainous sects like the Legion of Doom and the Evil League of Evil — fewer giant robots, more financial manipulation and quiet assassinations. Their strength comes from their secrecy, and one of their most compelling qualities is that you never know who they count among their ranks. They manage to keep a low enough profile that, despite having bases located throughout Gotham City, the only whisper of their name comes in the form of a classic, creepy nursery rhyme.

Still, what's the point of starting a sect of power-hungry control freaks if you don't get to splurge once in a while? The Court's preferred death dealers are specially trained assassins called Talons, engineered to be nigh-unkillable and kept in cryogenic storage between missions. In 2012's Night of the Owls storyline, the Court comes to the conclusion that it's time to rain hell down on the Bat family, sending an army to infiltrate the Batcave and slaughter targets throughout the city. An intense fight ensues, with the myriad Batfolk only managing a win by the skin of their teeth.

The Court was recently revealed to be a primary antagonist in Rocksteady Montreal's upcoming Gotham Knights game, and characteristically eagle-eyed viewers spotted a number of clues pointing to their involvement in the plot of 2021's The Batman during its trailer reveal. Will we be seeing more of the Court of Owls in the coming days? Hoo knows?