Back in the day, the original script for BATMAN ’89 included the introduction of Robin.
In fact, Ricky Addison Reed was cast as the Boy Wonder and storyboards were created for the scene in which Michael Keaton’s Batman finds his Robin.
If memory serves me right (and I’ll check with Michael Uslan), the segment was supposed to take place right after the Bruce Wayne/Joker confrontation in Vicki Vale’s apartment. The storyboards were brought to life on a previous BATMAN ’89 special edition DVD/Blu-ray a few years ago and you can check it out below…
Ultimately, director Tim Burton and company decided that including Robin in the film was just too much and would overstuff it.
Thus, no Robin in B89.
A few years later, Burton made an attempt to include Robin in BATMAN RETURNS when Marlon Wayans was cast as “The Kid” who would help Batman with the Batmobile after The Penguin took control of it.
Wayons got paid for the gig and, apparently, had a Robin action figure created for him that, well, didn’t look a much like Marlon Wayans.
Yet again, “Robin” was cut from a Batman film due to an overstuffed plot. It must be noted that Wayans was about 19 years old when he was cast and Batman’s sidekick was not going to be depicted as a kid despite the name of his character.
Robin finally made his big screen debut in the Warner Bros. Batman film in the 1995 soft reboot of the franchise, BATMAN FOREVER.
Under director Joel Schumacher, Dick Grayson/Robin was played by actor Chris O’Donnell and portrayed as a 17ish-year-old young man on the cusp of adulthood — not as a 13ish-year-old child.
Because having Batman running around Gotham City fighting crime with a 13-year-old kid in a “serious” live-action movie can come off looking silly. And that is precisely the reason why it’s been tough to work Robin into a Batman movie over the last 30 years.
David Goyer — who contributed to the stories and the scripts of THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY — once said that including Robin in a live-action Batman movie would be “tricky” and he’s 100% right.
On the other hand, Robin is such an important part of Batman history, it can be argued that no cinematic interpretation of Batman can be considered definitive without the inclusion of the Boy Wonder.
Indeed, director Christopher Nolan must have realized this because he made it a point to include his version of “Robin” in the third and final installment of THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, 2012’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
In RISES, Bruce Wayne found a kindred spirit and kinda-sorta protégé in young Gotham police force officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Just like his on film predecessor in BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN & ROBIN, Robin is definitely not portrayed as a child as TRILOGY‘s version of the character is obviously a man in his 20s.
Even though Robin John Blake didn’t sport a red tunic and green pixie boots, this version of Robin is as legitimate as any other in any medium. Nolan simply adapted the character to fit the Bat-universe that was created in the TRILOGY.
Robin would next appear in a live-action film in 2016’s BATMAN v SUPERMAN, well, kinda.
We know that the BvS version of Batman (Ben Affleck) had a Robin — and probably the most comic-book accurate one to date — but he was dead.
And now, THE BATMAN is coming in 2021.
Written and directed by Matt Reeves, THE BATMAN is a reboot of WB’s Batman film franchise starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne and his dark, crime-fighting alter-ego.
In Reeves’ film, Batman will be right about 30 years old and while not a rookie, he still isn’t the fully-formed Dark Knight who kicks major crime ass with ease.
Which brings me back to the question of this article featured in the title: Should Robin be Introduced in THE BATMAN?
And the answer is 100% NO.
No, THE BATMAN should 100% focus on this new version of Batman on film and his Bat-world. It is NOT the time to shoehorn in the origin story of a sidekick.
If Matt Reeves intends to do a trilogy of Batman films, then I’m sure that he knows — like Christopher Nolan before him — that “Robin” must be included in order to consider it to be definitive. Also, he’ll likely see how difficult it is to include Robin in a Batman film and not…
1) Muddle-up the storyline.
2) Come off looking silly in a “serious” movie.
I do believe that Matt Reeves will figure it out and his version of “Robin” will show up at some point in his Bat-trilogy.
But that should not be in his first Batman movie because THE BATMAN needs to focus on The Batman. – Bill “Jett” Ramey