"Robin: To Be or Not to Be?
Author: Paul Wares
July 30, 2008
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I actually began writing this piece in 2005, immediately following the release of BATMAN BEGINS. There had been plenty of talk across the net about Robin and whether Chris Nolan would include him in a later movie. I pondered this for a while and started writing. After repeat viewings of BATMAN BEGINS though, I decided that Robin just wouldnít fit into the world that Nolan created.

Robin is a problematic character, particularly in this new movie universe. This isnít exclusive to the movie world Nolan has crafted though. Iíve always had problems with the Robin character, mostly due to how he contradicts Batman. One of Batmanís mantras in my favourite comic book incarnations is the notion that he is Batman to prevent his tragedy befalling another. Robin completely contradicts that notion.

With BEGINS and now THE DARK KNIGHT, Nolan has given us a rich, layered and psychologically ďrealisticĒ version of Bruce Wayne. We understand his motives behind the path he has ultimately chosen, but if one of his guiding principals is to protect the innocent and prevent his tragedy befalling another, then there is no good reason why he would put anyone in harms way -- least of all a thirteen year-old boy wearing a brightly coloured costume. It makes no logical sense and the suspension of disbelief that Nolan and team worked so hard for in his two movies is thrown out of the window with the inclusion of Robin at Batmanís side.

Or is it?

After my third viewing of THE DARK KNIGHT, Iím now not so sure.

I can understand to a certain degree fan desire to include him in the franchise at some point. Heís been fighting crime at Batmanís side on and off for over 67 years and if this film series is going to be considered the definitive portrayal of the Batman, then at some point Robin will have to show up, right?

Let me say that Iím in no hurry to see Robin on screen again any time soon. Iím not a fan of the character at all, despite what the essay might allude to. I certainly didnít want to see him make an appearance TDK, but after the events of that movie, I now wouldnít rule out seeing him in the third movie of this series.

Why? Well, because Batman is very nearly broken in that TDK. He is at the edge of the abyss and his world is darker than at any other time in his adult life. His best friend and potential lover, the person to whom he pinned his hope on a normal life is gone. The man that he truly believed could make Gotham a better place is gone and he himself is being hunted by the police, believed to be a murdering psychopath. In the next film I can see Bruce Wayne all but disappearing into the guise of The Batman, being more obsessed than he ever has been and for the first time, battle worn and without hope.

He will need something or someone to bring him back from the edge, to remind him that he is human and that he does make a difference. He needs redemption, not only in Gothamís eyes, but in his own. To that end, the Robin character would make an enormous impact in the world of Batman. Yes he might be an implausible character, but if TDK showed us anything, is that this team know how to make the implausible, plausible.

But how do you make the Robin character work believably on screen?

Let's say that Chris Nolan does indeed include "Robin" in BATMAN 3. Certainly, he would adapt the character to fit the cinematic Bat-World he created. Of course, there will be fans who will argue that a "Nolanized" version of Robin isnít faithful to the mythology, or that it isnít really Robin. But then Two-Face didn't have his half his face destroyed by acid, yet he was still ďTwo-Face.Ē The Joker wasnít perma-white, but he was still ďThe Joker.Ē If Robin is to be included in this series, making him "real" -- i.e. "Nolanized" -- is the only way I could see it working.

If anyone can pull off the inclusion of Robin, itís Team Nolan.


Paul Wares is a senior BOF contributor residing in the U.K.

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