Since everyone seems like they are too cool to actually say it, I will. I am a fan of Robin. Yes, I am a huge fan and love almost every incarnation of Batman’s red and green wearing sidekick. You want a further reason to look derisively upon my point of view? Outstanding. I love Ewoks too. Personally, I think of myself as being a Tim Drake man. It is all a personal preference. Personally, I cannot stand and have very little tolerance for the current incarnation of Damian Wayne. I just think that Drake was the right meld of all of the elements that made a great Robin. Now, cinematically, there have been a few Robins over time. I will examine a few of my favorites.
Batman Forever (1995) – Let me get another thing out of the way. Batman and Robin (1997) was one of the better examples of pure campy comic book popcorn fun that I have paid good money to see in the theaters. Batman Forever was a great take on Robin in that the movie incorporated all of the elements of Robin known at the time. First, you had as close to the classic origin of Dick Grayson as you are going to see on film. The Flying Graysons was a great nod to the original storyline. However, the writers were sly enough to evolve the character as the character evolved in the comics. Robin stealing the Batmobile and kissing the girl? That was pure Jason Todd. The natural fighting ability and detective skills. This would get you back to Tim Drake. Drake was Robin because he did what anyone should be able to do. Drake figured out who Batman was and had the nerve to confront him on it. The scene where Robin says Batman has a partner whether he wants one or not is Drake all the way.
Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker (2000) – Return of the Joker examined what had been a great unanswered question in the Batman Beyond universe. Whatever happened to Tim Drake? Drake was emotionally portrayed by Dean Stockwell (whom you probably know best as Al from Quantum Leap). Drake was basically now a creation of both Batman and the Joker. Batman put Robin in harms way and Joker tortured him into a clone. Drake became a re-incarnation of the Joker with Batman’s fighting skills. This was really a Jeckyll and Hyde dual personality which warranted more exploration. After all that happened, it is conceivable that a computer chip would simply be a placebo to facilitate a change which could also be spontaneous. The film also hinted at something I have always believed. There is no reason that the path to being Batman starts with or should have anything to do with first being Robin. I am a fan of Nightwing but not a fan of a Dick Grayson Batman. In my opinion, a Dick Grayson Batman is something of a fundamental misunderstanding of the character. Dick Grayson evolves in Nightwing. Tim Drake evolves into Red Robin. Carrie Kelly evolves into Catgirl. Jason Todd evolved into the Red Hood. They all took their own path which often did not and should not involve ever turning into Batman. Its like someone who is in the dominant/submissive lifestyle. You do not become Batman. You are Batman or you don’t bother.
The Dark Knight Returns: Part One (2012) – Finally, (excluding Batman The Animated Series episode Legends of the Dark Knight) we have a chance to at least see a glimpse of the Carrie Kelly Robin on film. In the future, Batman has fully realized what many Bat-fans refuse to admit. Batman needs Robin. Lets review, Batman is a hair trigger away from being the very thing that he hunts. No one knows this better than the criminals in which Batman is going after. There are two things that generally stops him. First, he has to rely on a strict set of rules as well as there is someone with him who actively needs protection. Batman risking his own life is a dangerous creature. Subconsciously, both the 1990’s Batman movies as well as Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy point this out implicitly. The most touching scene in the entire original Dark Knight Returns comic was Batman hugging a beaten Robin saying “Good soldier.” In the movie Legends of the Fall, Anthony Hopkins character declares that his son “was a soldier and soldiers die!” Batman has the same general response. By calling Jason Todd a ‘soldier,’ Batman is giving the dead their proper respect. It took years but Batman finally gets the role of Robin. The animated film is as close as we are ever going to get to that message being compellingly delivered.
Finally, if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, there is a character revealed to have the name of Robin. I will say that it is a fun conceit and little more. Again, I am of the opinion that if someone is going to be Batman, then there is no necessity of being Robin first. As a matter of fact, I will argue until I am blue in the face that asking a Robin to be a Batman (even though they may possess the proper skills) is a mistake every time that they do it. Robin is a legitimate character in their own right. Robin is a necessary character. I am actually a bigger fan of Robin than of Batman. Deal with it. I have.