Why focusing on Batman and Robin is the right move for James Gunn's DC Universe

Batman and Robin #1 interior art
(Image credit: DC)

It's official - there are going to be two Batmans (Batmen?) in the new DC Films slate. One, Robert Pattinson's effective (and popular) take on the Dark Knight Detective in the Elseworlds sequel The Batman 2, and another version of the Caped Crusader anchored in the DC Universe in The Brave and the Bold.

So how is the new core, 'canon' movie Batman going to stand out with the more established Bat-tinson take also continuing on alongside it? The answer lies in DC Films co-CEO James Gunn saying that The Brave and the Bold will actually focus more on the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin, specifically Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian Wayne.

If you ask me, leaving a gritty, realistic, less comic-y take on Bruce Wayne to The Batman and leaning into the relationship between Batman and Robin in the more heroic DC Universe movies is exactly the right move - and it's one that's frankly overdue.

The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Since Batman '89 kicked off the entire Batman movie franchise, the film series has been rebooted no less than three times (four, if we count the upcoming Brave and the Bold version. But there's only been one live action movie version of Robin – Chris O'Donnell's '90s version. And though Batman Forever and Batman and Robin have their cult followings, neither character was taken particularly seriously in those movies, let alone the complexity of their relationship.

Bringing in Damian Wayne, Batman's flesh-and-blood son and the current comic book Robin, jumps straight to the heart of the Dynamic Duo's complex, well, dynamic. Ever since the original Robin, Dick Grayson, was introduced in 1940's Batman #1, the Boy Wonder has been a bright, happy-go-lucky foil for the Dark Knight's grim demeanor. Damian Wayne flips that dynamic on its head as a pre-teen edgelord raised by his mother Talia al-Ghul to be an assassin, forcing Bruce to confront his own attitude and motivations - and also his relationships with Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake, the other Robins who have complex and often wounded histories with Bruce as his surrogate sons.

Batman and Robin #0 cover art

(Image credit: DC)

And that right there cuts to the real heart of why focusing on the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damian, and hopefully by extension Damian's predecessors as Robin, is a pitch perfect choice for co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran's DC Studios.

Not only does prioritizing the Batman and Robin relationship offer a solid line of demarcation from The Batman 2's version of the Caped Crusader, all while offering an opportunity to do something that hasn't been rehashed multiple times in live-action Batman movies, it also fits right in with the themes Gunn himself has so far brought to his multiple superhero movies and shows over the years.

Namely, Gunn's longtime focus on the concept of reckoning with the legacy of one's own flesh-and-blood kin while also finding a new, chosen family that uplifts the person you've become. That's the prevalent theme in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie trilogy, and in his Peacemaker streaming series.

page from Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular

(Image credit: DC)

Gunn is serving as an executive producer on The Brave and the Bold with The Flash director Andy Muschietti attached to helm the film, so we're not suggesting he'll force a vision on another creator. But Gunn's guiding hand as producer and co-CEO of DC Films will also bring his priorities and his taste.

In that way, it feels safe to assume that part of the reason he chose to focus on the concept of The Brave and the Bold as a Batman and Robin movie long before Muschietti was attached was at least partially motivated by the way Batman's journey to accept his flesh-and-blood son, while reckoning with his history with his adopted sons, fits those themes.

So here's hoping that The Brave and the Bold lives up to its potential as the first live-action movie to take a serious attempt at adapting the relationship between Batman and Robin in a deeper way than the one time they've tried it before. A good, solid Batman and Robin movie could go a long way to establishing the Gunn/Safran era of DC Studios in the hearts and minds of fans, and bring in a reboot-weary superhero movie audience who want something they haven't seen before.

Damian Wayne is just one of Batman's best Robins of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)