Superheroes are, as you all know, really now the big thing. Which, for any fan of them, DC or Marvel alike, is brilliant. Still, one can't help but note that even in all of the additions to Marvel's cinematic universe, or in the seriously critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, there seems to be a little something missing. A little something that may well come into play more in Phase 3 of Marvel, and the DC Cinematic universe once it spurs into solo movies.
You guessed it! (I wonder how. Was it the title?) Sidekicks. Most heroes have had one at some point in their lives, some more memorable than others, but without a doubt the definitive version of a sidekick is the one pictured- looking particularly more hardcore than he's normally portrayed as- Robin. That's the Boy Wonder as he looked in Arkham City, with Tim Drake behind the mask. It's not that kind of image which inspires me to want to see sidekicks in film, though, even if it's enough to have me drooling at the prospect of a genuinely well done sidekick in a superhero movie.
To see that in live action would be a superhero fan's dream. You see, so far, we've had very few sidekicks in live action. Even in all of the success of the MCU, we've only seen the likes of James Rhodes- who, in fairness, isn't really a sidekick, but more of a willing stand in and helper, kind of like John Diggle on Arrow (only thing I could think of, sorry)- or Bucky Barnes come to life, and even then Bucky wasn't really a sidekick, instead becoming the Winter Soldier very quickly. If anything, Steve was the one looking up to Bucky, not the other way around. It's entirely possible we'll see Bucky turn around and start being Cap's sidekick in Phase 3, but that doesn't seem very likely with the direction they seem to be taking at having him more of an antihero.
In fairness to Marvel, sidekicks have really (in a sweeping generalization) always been more DC's thing. In comics, they've certainly taken to the idea of sidekicks a lot more than Marvel ever did (for neither better nor worse, for those looking to start a war), excluding perhaps with Spidey, who has quite the line up. But DC's sidekick line up is huge, which is why, in the more comic bookey franchise they're apparently aiming to establish, I hope we'll see them crop up in the future.
My initial hope comes from the idea that Ben Affleck is going to be an older Batman, and rumours (which I take with a serious grain of salt ready to discard) report a tattered Robin cape, alluding to the death of Jason Todd, will be present in Batcave. Regardless of whether or not this is true, it'd fit the timeline perfectly. People want to see Nightwing in a movie, so Dick Grayson wouldn't be Robin. While he's probably my favourite Robin, I also prefer him as Nightwing, so that's alright. Of course, the best way to get a dark, anger ridden Batman is to have had him gone through this:
Or, conversely, the quite haunting and emotional animated version (not my favourite Joker, but still) where after beating Jason with his crowbar, the Joker chillingly seems to taunt God. Or Batman. Either way, it's creepy.
Of course, after that, Batman is going to be this grizzled man who isn't overly fond of the world we're told we're likely to see in Ben Affleck's portrayal. But we don't want him stuck that way forever, which is why we need a little reintroduction of happiness in his life...namely in the form of Tim Drake, his next Robin, the one at the top of this article. Of course, the Man of Steel needs something to keep him busy too. Aside from that little tease with the empty pod in the last movie, Supergirl or Superboy, maybe even Krypto the Superdog, might find their way on to screens soon. And I hope they do.
Why? Sidekicks are our window into the hero world. I've always found when I'm reading a comic, that, oddly enough, it's not the hero I truly see myself as being. Sure, I'd love to be Superman, or Batman, or Iron Man, but in reality, I see myself (if at all) standing beside those heroes. I don't want to take them away, because they're why I want to be in their world. That doesn't mean I don't want to get rid of Robin, but I'm more inclined to want to be him, because he's the one who stands next to Batman and is our window into that world. Plus, the characters often have a rich mythos behind them, which adds even more dimension to our movies and TV, and they tend out to be really cool like The Winter Soldier, Nightwing, or the Red Hood (who also needs to be in a film.)
(As it won't work in the caption, here's a link to the showcase of similar art.) What's interesting about sidekicks is that they've effectively come on to TV before they have movies, and, what's more, it's seemed to have worked really well.
There's Arsenal ready to go in season three of Arrow, Roy Harper as a full fledged sidekick now. What's great is that Roy has been a character with an arc of his own for two seasons, slowly working into the world of the Arrow before taking on this persona, having been trained last season (though actor Colton Haynes says he's still a terrible shot.) The best thing above that still, I think, is the fact that he's smiling. Sidekicks have fun. The Dark Knight proved that people adore serious comic book movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy proved the audience loves fun just as much. Sidekicks create the perfect balance for that. Even in conflict, they're willing to crack a smile, and Arrow promises fun banter between Oliver and Roy as they fight crime next season, something I've been waiting for since Roy was introduced way back halfway through season one.
Sidekicks are tied to this stigma of being lame or annoying, but that isn't the case. Robin has the potential to become a very quick fan favourite, and people do love having a laugh even in a serious film. They add new dimensional characters iconic to franchises, and they lead to even bigger things and become characters of their own. With Titans potentially coming to screens soon, that might just change, and I think the reception to Young Justice proves that we love the guys.