When it comes to Batman, comic book fans always have a lot to say — and rightly so: He is arguably the greatest superhero of all time. But whether you're a fan of this film or that comic, there is always some aspect of the character on which people can find common ground. However, unfortunately the character of Robin doesn't seem to be one of them.
Debuting in DC Comics in April 1940, the Boy Wonder has been involved in some of Batman's most integral storylines. But he is also one of the most dividing aspects of the Batman mythology. There's no common ground with Robin — fans either love him or hate him — many of the reasons revolving around his bright colors and lighter character.
But like it or not, Robin has been a staple of Batman's legacy for over 75 years and that shows no signs of slowing down. With some iteration of the many Robins alive and well in animation and comic series, the character has remained absent from live-action films for almost two decades. Well, with the DCEU in full swing, now is the perfect time for the Boy Wonder to make a triumphant comeback.
"Holy Vanishing Act Batman!"
When it comes to the big screen — and the small screen — Robin has also been present for some of Batman's most notorious outings. First portrayed by Douglas Croft and Johnny Duncan in the 1943 and 1949 serials, it was Burt Ward's iconic portrayal of Dick Grayson/Robin in all three seasons of 1966's Batman TV Series and Batman: The Movie that has become synonymous with the character. And although for many this version of Robin is an acquired taste, he was very much a product of the time and thus fit nicely into the legendary TV series.
Chris O' Donnell took up the mantle for 1995's Batman Forever — a film that was notorious for lightening the tone of the Batman franchise of the era — and suited up alongside Val Kilmer's Batman. O' Donnell seemed to do the role justice and returned for the sequel Batman & Robin in 1997. However, this film was responsible for killing the franchise and in many people's minds, set comic book movies back decades. Batman & Robin was not a product of its time and was outcast by many for it's neon lights and campy performances. And excluding the John "Robin" Blake Easter Egg in The Dark Knight Rises, this was the last time that Robin appeared on the big screen. Thanks to the notorious Batman & Robin as well as the character's colorful reputation, we haven't seen the Boy Wonder in almost two decades on the big screen. And two decades is long enough: Times have changed and so has Robin.
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The Character Changed With The Times
Despite the negative connotations associated with the character, Robin has seen somewhat of a renaissance over the past few decades. Whether it be in iconic comic book storylines or through one of the many animated series/films, Robin has suddenly become cool. Gone are translucent tights, elf shoes and Bat-nipples and instead, we have sleek badass suits, spiky hair and a maturity never seen before.
In the comics, Grayson became Nightwing while Jason Todd took up the mantle of Robin. From then on, darker, more realistic storylines would ensure that the character of Robin continued to evolve, no matter who was behind the mask. The introduction of Tim Drake in August 1989 marked another new chapter in Robin's legacy — he was so well-received he ended up having his own comic series that ran for 183 issues from 1993 until 2009. From Todd's death to the female Robin, the storylines during the 1980s and '90s proved that the Robin mantle needed to be taken seriously. And this carried over into animation with Batman: The Animated Series producing two of the first ever serious Robins in Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, borrowing heavily from the comics for their origin stories.
In addition, thanks to his recent representation in both acclaimed animated series Teen Titans and Young Justice, as well as his appearances in the Batman: Arkham game series — Robin is considered a legitimate badass, and this is the Robin we need to see return to the big screen in the DCEU.
Furthermore, let's not forget the adoration shown for Damian Wayne thanks to DC's acclaimed animated Batman movies. Despite being moody and impulsive, fans love seeing Damian Wayne doing justice to the Robin mantle. And whether it's a spear or sword, all modern versions of Robin are considered badass and thus, he deserves a chance to prove himself onscreen in a DCEU film.
A Hopeful Presence In The DCEU
Just because the Boy Wonder hasn't appeared in films lately, doesn't mean that he hasn't had an impact on them. The Robin suit seen in Batman V Superman has kept us talking since the film's trailer first premiered. Due to the Joker's cryptic graffiti message on the suit the likely theory is that he killed the Jason Todd iteration of Robin, just like in the comics. However, just because we believe him to be long dead, that doesn't mean that his presence wasn't felt.
In Batman V Superman, Ben Affleck's somber Bruce Wayne stares at the suit, suggesting that whatever happened to Robin was what caused his Batman to truly lose hope and resort to the severe methods seen in the film. Furthermore, in Suicide Squad, we find out the identity of the person who is responsible for the "death of Robin" which confirms the fact that a Robin died — but which one?
There has been speculation that the Boy Wonder could return to the big screen in Ben Affleck's solo Batman film. Some have claimed that it might be a flashback film, adapting the "A Death In The Family" arc where we get to see Jared Leto's Joker kill Robin, while others have speculated that Jason Todd — if it is Todd — might return in the present day as Red Hood. However, remember there is more than one Robin. Some believe that we will see Dick Grayson return — either as Nightwing or to take up the mantle again, while others have suggested we may see the debut of Tim Drake or Damian Wayne.
If Robin's death made Batman lose hope, then that means Robin was the character who gave it to him in the first place. It's important to have characters like that in the grim world of the DCEU. And there are so many rich adaptations to choose from for inspiration. He doesn't have to wear tights or be cheesy in any way possible. He can be just as badass as the recent interpretations. Robin was a character who inspired Batman — the hope in a hopeless world — and Bruce saved Robin from ever becoming like the Batman. Thus, whether it be through a flashback or resurgence, we want to see Batman's source of hope in action at least once.
It's hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since we last saw Robin accompanying Batman on the big screen. A lot has changed over that period, and despite Batman & Robin's mistakes, it's time to return the Boy Wonder to Batman's side. And it doesn't have to be the one-liner grinning sidekick from the 1960s. The portrayal of Robin has changed dramatically over the years in comics, animation and video games. It's about time that film caught up.
The DCEU is the perfect opportunity to bring Batman's badass sidekick back to the big screen. Especially with the shadow his presence already casts over the extended universe. He has been referenced before, and it's time that we see at least one iteration of Robin fly on film once more.
Check out the return of Burt Ward's Robin in the trailer for the latest DC animated flick:
Would you like to see Robin return to the big screen? Let us know in the comments!