Hollywood’s latest incarnation of the Batman franchise and the third film in director and co-writer Christopher Nolan’s planned trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” opens June 20, and one much-maligned character is rumored to be making an appearance: Batman’s faithful sidekick, Robin.
The Internet is rife with speculation about the Boy Wonder returning to the big screen in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but last week at Comic-Con, fans thought that something else might be in store for the “Inception” star.
“I highly doubt if Robin will be in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ but they might try to make him into another Batman,” Jon Schnepp, director of Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" and self-described comic book superfan, told FOXNews.com. “I don’t know if Christian Bale is going to die, but I think that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to take over as the Batman character. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but that’s my guess. When I saw the trailer four or five months ago, I was like, ‘Why is Gordon-Levitt in the movie? They already have Commissioner Gordon–they don’t need another cop.’ But then I thought, ‘OK, they’re seeding this so that Christian Bale’s going to die and this dude is going to take over.’ Gordon-Levitt’s going to become either Batman or Nightwing.”
Fans at San Diego’s annual comic book convention were excited about “The Dark Knight Rises,” but not particularly interested in the fate of the Boy Wonder.
"Tim Burton didn’t want to have Robin in it, so they introduced Robin with Joel Schumacher’s Ice Capades fantasy all-star super-shiny disco Batman"
- Jon Schnepp
“There was very little talk of Robin,” TV producer and self-described Batman fanboy Reid Nicholson told FOXNews.com. “I don’t know for a fact that Robin is not in the new movie, but I do know that Christopher Nolan respects the Batman opus from the comic books more than Joel Schumacher did. I think one of the reasons that you’re not going to see Robin is because the fanboys spoke and I think Warner Bros. and Nolan concurred–and that’s why you didn’t see Robin in the past two movies–and possibly not in this one, either.”
Schumacher, of course, is responsible for 1995’s “Batman Forever” and 1997’s “Batman & Robin,” both of which featured Robin as portrayed by Chris O’Donnell, to the chagrin of most fans.
“Robin really never made sense in the films,” explained Schnepp, who recently raised almost $200,000 on Kickstarter to make a pilot for the "Grimm Fairy Tales" animated series. “Tim Burton didn’t want to have Robin in it, so they introduced Robin with Joel Schumacher’s Ice Capades fantasy all-star super-shiny disco Batman, which I completely hated, along with everyone else. Robin had nipples and he’s running around in butt thongs. It was ‘Batman on Ice.’ It was horrible. That was really the lowest point for anyone who was a Batman fan. That killed the franchise for a while.”
“Chris O’Donnell definitely didn’t make us love Robin any more with his performance,” added Nicholson.
Adolescent Dick Grayson as Robin made his first appearance in the Batman comic book series in 1940, but with the loss of a more innocent era, Robin’s relationship with an older, wealthy gentleman became less palatable to fans.
“Robin has always kind of bugged me as a character,” said Schnepp. “Batman’s original creator, Bob Kane, created Robin because he wanted kids to be able to identify with him when he was out on his adventures with Batman. But it was a different time–and now Robin doesn’t really make sense.”
Fans were so turned off by the Robin character that Batman comics even went as far as to change Dick Grayson’s alias to Nightwing back in the ‘80s.
“Before Nightwing, people were like, ‘What’s up with Robin? Isn’t he, like, 27? Why is he dressing in a strange, very ‘La Cage aux Folles’ way? Why are an older man and younger man hanging out together–are they taking showers together?’" said Schnepp. "Or, if they’re gay, they should just come out. I mean, some weird dude who puts on a bat outfit is already strange. Then there are all of these creepy characters that he has to go up against. So, it just made more sense for Batman to go solo as our society changed.”
Fans’ jealousy of the Boy Wonder may have also played a role in his diminished popularity over the years.
“One of the hardest things for a fanboy is that when we read a comic, we see ourselves when we were teenagers,” added Nicholson. “With Robin, fanboys see there’s an an animosity, because he is, in fact, us. He’s the one who gets to fight alongside the Dark Knight. So, a reason the fanboys never fully embraced Robin is that a lot of them are jealous–they want to be Robin.”
So, is there any hope for Robin to make a comeback in Hollywood?
“There are two ways that Hollywood could do Robin,” said Schnepp. “One, they could go super-campy and do ‘Robin: The Musical.’ Another way that they could do it is to make Robin a female character. But I don’t think they’re going to feature Robin again.”