DC Is Finally Putting Robin in a Batman Movie. It's About Time.
Damian Wayne is making the leap to the big screen, and the son of Batman could change everything we know about the Caped Crusader.
For as long as there’s been Batman, there’s been Robin. The famous sidekick made his comic book debut in 1940, less than 10 issues after Batman’s own first appearance. But the big screen has been weirdly averse to featuring the Boy Wonder.
That’s finally changing, and what little we know implies plenty about the new DC Universe. On Tuesday, DC Studios co-chair James Gunn announced DC’s new slate of interconnected movies and TV shows. It includes a new film, The Brave and the Bold, that will star yet another new Batman — and for the first time in a long time, a new Robin.
But the new Robin won’t be the same green tights-wearing Dick Grayson you might think of. The spotlight will be on Damian Wayne, Batman’s biological son who was mothered by Talia Al Ghul (the daughter of Batman’s nemesis Ra’s Al Ghul), trained with the cult-like League of Assassins, and sports a serious mean streak.
But while Damian Wayne is a petulant adolescent who uses a ninja sword like he stole it at the flea market, he’s still Robin, and the mere presence of Robin changes everything we might assume about a new Batman movie. Not only does his existence suggest The Brave and the Bold will have a lighter tone than previous Batman movies, it also implies the presence of many elements in the new DC Universe. Damian Wayne being Robin doesn’t just mean Ra’s Al Ghul exists, but that other members of the Bat Family who have yet to appear on-screen, like Nightwing and Red Hood, exist too.
While Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, and Matt Reeves dialed in on a brooding lone wolf Batman, The Brave and the Bold will have a Batman well-versed in playing well with others. That’s a necessary attribute for Batman to exist in a shared universe. But the fun thing about Damian Wayne — current holder of the Robin identity in the comics — is that his coarse personality will grate his father, which will likely center The Brave and the Bold on complicated family dynamics.
Though Damian is Batman’s son, his ambition, recklessness, and youthful vigor means Damian might fight his own father, someone he could believe is too conservative to get the job done. This generational conflict and personal animosity are factors mainstream audiences probably aren’t used to in these iconic figures.
Damian Wayne is something of a creative paradox, making him exciting to see on-screen even if he’s not everyone’s favorite Robin. The Dick Grayson version of Robin was conceived because Batman needed someone to talk to, and a young tagalong appealed to younger readers. It’s in Robin’s DNA to be a youth surrogate, which is why Dick Grayson had whiffs of Jar Jar Binks energy when he was Robin. But Damian isn’t Dick Grayson. He behaves like a teenager’s imitation of a cool comic book superhero, edgy and brooding despite lacking the maturity to pull it off. Damian might have had the world’s best training, but he still has to grow up.
The dozens of Batman movies audiences have seen over decades have told Bruce Wayne’s story over and over again. But they’ve never told his story as a father or the patriarch of the expansive Bat Family. With Damian Wayne, Batman’s movie history finally feels like it’s entering a new era.