Of all the essential elements of a Batman reboot we’ve listed, this is by far the most contentious.
Comic-book readers hate Robin so much they once paid money to kill him.
And that’s not an exaggeration – in the late-‘80s, DC held a phone vote to decide the fate of Jason Todd’s Robin. Fans dialled one number to save him from death at the hands of Joker, another to condemn him.
A slim majority voted to kill off the character, and true to their word, DC depicted his brutal death.
Robin’s so unpopular that Christian Bale reportedly threatened to quit the Batman films if Nolan introduced the character to his universe – though the veracity of that quote is still in question (it’s never actually been confirmed) it still sums up many fans' feelings on the matter.
But despite the hatred, we’d argue Batman actually needs Robin – not just to help him fight crime, but to make him a more rounded character.
And Batman’s creators were aware of the fact that, without Robin to interact with, Batman as a concept has limitations. That would explain why Batman didn’t make it to a full year of publication before Robin was introduced.
That’s right, Robin has been a near-constant presence in Bat-history. Batman spent 11 months without him, and 73 years with him. And there’s a reason.
We’ve already touched on the fact that Batman’s generally a fairly funny comic-book – that’s because he has Robin to spark off. The comics without the character are generally the darkest of the canon.
Which is by no means a bad thing, but if the Batman reboot does want to change direction the introduction of Robin, though risky, is a proven route to success.
But their relationship is more complicated than straight-man and foil, the best Robins – Dick Grayson, Tim Drake – add consequence, and even substance to their best Bat-books.
Robin is a symbol of optimism and hope - he operates as a reminder to Batman of what he’s fighting for, and of what he’s lost in the process.
If, and it’s a big if, the Batman reboot makes him likeable, he’ll add a completely new dynamic to the universe already established by Nolan.
And we get the feeling even Nolan likes him – watch
Game Of Thrones
’ Jack Gleeson isn’t meant as a tribute to Robin, we’ll eat our cape.
There's even a reference to Robin in
The Dark Knight Rises;
the R held aloft by a crowd-member in the Gotham Rogues scene is an exact replica of the Boy Wonder's branding.
Other publications have written the reference off as a prank by an extra, but are you telling us that a director with as much attention to detail as Nolan didn't notice it? It would have taken a half-decent digital effects team ten minutes to get rid of it, and yet it was so clear in the second trailer that it was included in every single trailer breakdown.
Our guess? The sign was the work of an extra, Nolan saw it, liked it, and left it in.
Still, there's a reason this is the only headline in this feature to come with a question mark - we don't think that Robin deserves automatic inclusion in the Batman reboot, but we do think he'd serve a purpose. But if the creative team can't do him justice, we'd rather he was left out.
Robin is an insanely difficult character to get right –
Batman & Robin
did such a bad job they tarnished the Boy Wonder’s cinematic reputation so completely, it’s hard to imagine how a big screen Robin would be achieved.
But then, after
Batman & Robin
it was hard to imagine another decent Batman film full-stop, and we all know what happened next.
Read more about
The Dark Knight Rises