No Robin for Nolan's Batman

Posted by: Jerrica

Christopher Nolan has made it clear that the new "Batman" film franchise will not bring Robin into the mythology as long as he is directing, apparently having stated that Robin is in a crib somewhere still and the timeline isn't appropriate for him to enter the picture. To some this may come as a relief. But, there are many Robin fans out there who believe Robin, particularly Dick Grayson, who grows up to become Nightwing, plays a pivotal role in the Dark Knight's tale. Though the Boy Wonder was introduced as a means to draw younger comic readers to "Batman" in the 1940s, Robin has become much more than a cheap gimmick or a mere sidekick as some continue to believe he is.

As Dick Grayson grew up, he provided a brilliant counterbalance to Bruce Wayne, showing a contrast in the parallels of their orphaned circumstances where the superhero Robin was the mask for the boy Dick Grayson but the man Bruce Wayne is the mask for the superhero Batman. Some experts on the yin-yang complementary dynamics between Batman and Dick Grayson's Robin cite the first Boy Wonder's closeness to Bruce Wayne as one of the only things that humanizes him as he is one of the only people as close as Alfred to the lone Caped Crusader.

Often when fans think of Robin these days, one of two images comes to mind. The first would be the 1960s Robin, Burt Ward, with the "Holy [fill in the blank], Batman" campiness, but the 60s "Batman" television series was never actually meant to represent the comic in its truest form but parody it and superhero comics themselves. The second image would be of the Robin (Chris O'Donnell) from the Joel Schumacher films, "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin," generally considered to be two of the absolute worst superhero movies ever made, particularly the latter. But, this Robin was not really Dick Grayson, despite the character going by that name.

The Robin of the 90s movies was much closer to the Robin that was Jason Todd in the comics, considered one of the worst mistakes ever made in comics and somehow his character was translated to film as a vision of Dick Grayson's Robin. Jason Todd was the replacement for Dick Grayson once he left Batman and became Nightwing. While Jason Todd's character has resurfaced in the "Batman" comics mythology with a cult following of his own, he is usually regarded as the least like a Robin to ever be a Robin. And, there have been a few Robins since Dick Grayson, but Dick Grayson will always be the first and the true Robin to many.

This brings the point of Robin's role in the films full circle. If Nolan intends to explore Batman's origins and the beginnings of the characters that surround him, such as Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent, and The Joker, then it stands to reason that Dick Grayson is wandering around this universe somewhere. The pity is that if anyone could present Dick Grayson as he was always meant to be seen, it would be Nolan. The quality of Nolan's cinematic vision for Batman is equivalent to Frank Miller's comic vision for Batman. It is a darker world that is sensible and without the camp that has made some of the Batman characters a joke like Robin seems to have become when translated to screen from the inked page.

If Nolan can work in a little kid on a fire escape and on the streets in the Narrows, then he could certainly just lay the foundation for a world where even an infant Dick Grayson exists. The Flying Graysons were Dick's parents, and even a mention of them, direct or indirect, could set the stage for a larger story, perhaps even a spin-off down the line. If Nolan had the inclination, he could make the Robin that fans would actually want to see. Or, perhaps even a film about Nightwing. It's interesting to ask the question "What if..." when there is someone at the helm who could do the material serious justice. If Nolan believes Robin is too far off in the future to even glance in that direction, then that might just be a big loss to the Robin/Nightwing fans out there, as he is probably the most promising director to date who has proven he has the capabilities to do the original Robin right.


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