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Can Robin work in Nolan's Bat-Universe?
Friday, November 4, 2005, 12:00 AM CENTRAL TIME
Colin Fitzgerald

© Copyright 2005 Colin Fitzgerald and BATMAN-ON-FILM. All rights reserved.

Hello Batfans! I have taking the liberty of detailing how I think Robin could fit into the revamped Batman franchise. I am on the fence about this issue, as I am sure many of you are. The fact that Chris Nolan has done such beautiful job with BATMAN BEGINS, it is thrilling to imagine how he would deal with the delicate situation of a sidekick. The subject of Robin in the new franchise, no thanks to ambiguous comments by Nolan, has sparked a lot of message bored debate and speculation. Many of us wonder “Could Robin work in the sequels, or is the character just too much?” To answer that question we must explore the varying strengths and weaknesses of the character.

At his worst Robin is a wise-cracking, tight-wearing, and frankly cheesy sidekick. This is the Robin that has most permeated into pop culture (with help from the 60s series).

At his best, however, Robin can be a brilliant, cunning juxtaposition to Batman's dark and intimidating demeanor. When they get Robin wrong, he can be annoying and unlikable. When the character is in the right hands, he can serve as a poignant addition to the Batman universe. (“Dark Victory,” “DKR”'s Carrie Kelly).

Since eager anticipation of a restart to the Batman franchise has turned to speculation on the sequels, many fans have pondered what place, if any, a Robin may have in the new realistic vision of Batman's world that Chris Nolan has created. Robin has been a character that has always received criticism. For Robin to fit into the new, realistic world of Batman that Chris Nolan has created, many of these criticisms will have to be dealt with.

It is true that the character was devised in beginning of the 40s as a character children could relate to, and Batman could discuss cases with. That is not a reason to totally discount the character, however. Robin has served as a catalyst for some pretty good stories over the years, and at times he has transcended the original purpose of the character. For him to work in the new movie, Robin will have to defy a lot of criticisms, such as:

1) Creepiness factor- The subject of a lot of jabs at the Batman and Robin team is the odd nature of a young boy in tights fighting crime with Batman. For Robin to work in the sequels there has to be a convincing reason for Batman to take him under his wing. The similar nature of their tragedies is not enough. Batman can't just employ any victim with a similar story into his war. I believe that Robin will have to start his own war on crime first, before garnering the attention of Batman. For instance, Robin may have to be forced to search for justice, maybe because his parents' death was ruled accidental. If Robin has the motivation to fight crime before he meets Batman, the creepy factor will be reduced. No longer will Batman be just molding a troubled youth into his own image. If Robin was to strike out on his own making clear to Batman that this is his war too, Batman may chose to employ Robin to protect and guide the boy, if it is clear that Robin will exist with or without Batman's help.

2) The Danger factor - Why would Batman chose to endanger the life of a child? This subject is very much at the center of anti-Robin arguments. The solution is a simple one in my mind, as I have always seen the character better this way. Robin should be doing everything he can except physically busting heads. If he was a computer wizard, amazing detective or undercover operative he could assist Batman in ways that wouldn't endanger his life. There could always be occasional scenarios where Robin has no choice but to rush to Batman's aid, thereby entering into harm's way. I just can't see Batman, especially Nolan's vision of Batman, allowing a child to go on nightly patrol and engage in hand-to-hand combat.

3) The Brightness factor- DC had it right when they redesigned the Robin costume for Robin III, aka Tim Drake. The black cape is really all that's necessary to reduce the impractical nature of a red and yellow costume. I have always liked the idea that Robin has a totally unique reason to wear his costume, it being a tribute to the murdered Flying Graysons. If they keep his costume dark, he can stay in the shadows and not be a walking target.

4) The annoying factor- As Bruce Wayne was “truly lost” in the opening scenes of BATMAN BEGINS, so must Robin be at the beginning of his quest. The new movies should portray Robin as more like the Jason Todd version of the character, rather than Dick Grayson. Basically, he can't be happy-go-lucky and always making jokes. If he is brooding and troubled, and not just an annoying kid, he may work in the sequels. If Robin is to have to have the motivation to fight crime, he mustn't see things through such a perspective. Many early characterizations of Robin that portrayed him as an annoying kid have served only to impair the characters potential.

Well that about sums up how I think Robin could work in the revamped Batman franchise. I have never been the biggest of Robin fans, but in the hands of Chris Nolan the character may just work. The biggest hurdles will be finding the motivation for both Batman and Robin to strike up a partnership. The best way to do that, in my opinion, would be to address the issues I have outlined, and give us a realistic vision of the character.

Colin Fitzgerald is a musician, file clerk and an avid Batfan. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts and plays in his band "The Barrens," in his free time.

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