I wasn’t going to do this twice in one week, especially in a row, but it’s still that kind of weak and when YouTube suggested this video to me I knew being the daily quickpost wasn’t going to be enough.
Batman and Robin. To many generations you can’t have one without the other. Whether he’s Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown (which would be a she but that’s not important right now), Damian Wayne, Carrie Kelly (also a she), or Bobbie Chang, Robin exists for a number of reasons both as a storytelling element and within Batman’s life personally. And I don’t just mean the gag from Tiny Toon Adventures about drawing all the fire. If anything Robin might have to pull Batman out of the line of fire, or at least pull him back from the edge. That was one of the reasons he was created early in Detective Comics, to pull Batman away from the same level of darkness as one of his pulp hero inspirations, the Shadow.
While animated series, even ones that start early in Batman’s career, like Kids WB’s The Batman which oddly introduced Batgirl first, live-action movies haven’t used the Boy Wonder very well. In total only five live-action productions have used Dick as Batman’s sidekick, and we’ll get into Titans later. Even the animated theatrical Batman movie many claim to be the BEST Bat-film, Mask Of The Phantasm, takes place during a period in the DCAU and Batman: The Animated Series where Dick is at college. Why is Warner Brothers seemingly scared to use the Boy Wonder in their stories? YouTube video essayist Patrick (H) Willems decided to take a look after the movie also called The Batman continued the tradition of a Grayson-less Bat-Cave. Note that there’s somewhat more swearing than you’re used to from something in a BW article.
Catch more from Patrick (H) Willems on YouTube
Robin exists to keep Batman from going too dark, so naturally the fans and creators who steep themselves in dark storytelling hate him, killing him or outright banning him. Look what Titans did with him and his “f### Batman” line that annoyed so many Dick Grayson fans. I didn’t watch it because I didn’t have the DC Universe streaming service then and I don’t have HBO Max now, nor do I want to watch an angry Dick Grayson act like Bruce, when Bruce’s whole deal is that his charges don’t turn out like him. You can’t do a darker Robin/Nightwing even if the world around him gets darker because then you lose the whole point of Dick Grayson as a character and why, as Tim Drake would note, Batman needs a Robin to keep him from going over the edge and becoming more like Jean-Paul Valley, whose short tenure as Batman had a lot more killing people in it.
This is kind of the problem when you pull superheroes away from kids. If Robin is supposed to be for those kids who would rather hang out with Batman than be Batman themselves you can’t do that if you keep the kids away, and the Batman movies have been anti-kid (in my opinion at least) since the movie based on the 1966 TV show. Notice that even when kid shows try to keep Robin out, like Beware The Batman, someone fills that role. Why they went with Katana I couldn’t tell you. Meanwhile Batman: The Brave & The Bold, a show that’s a love letter to the Silver Age because my beloved Bronze Age continues to be ignored (despite being when darker Batman truly begins, but not by shutting Robin out entirely). does its own take on Batman’s character arc as a father figure that Willems mentions. In that case he had to accept that Dick had become his own superhero, as Robin eventually becomes Nightwing, something the DCAU also did when it moved from Fox Kids to Kids WB and took on some of the lighter tone of the Superman cartoon it now shared a programming block with.
Frankly I don’t know if there would be a modern Bat-Family without Tim Drake, who for some reason was given a variation of Jason Todd’s second origin when he became the DCAU’s new Robin, while Todd has only appeared in animated movies marked for older audiences, but only briefly as Robin before taking on his current Red Hood codename. If Tim hadn’t gotten Bruce back into accepting others Batgirl may not have returned, Cassandra Cain’s origin wouldn’t be as inspired by a Batman closer to the type of person she was trying to avoid becoming, Riddler’s temporary reformation and Clayface’s wouldn’t have happened, and there might not even be a Spoiler. How is the Batman parody movie did a better job exploring Batman’s human side and addressing his lonely state instead of the embracing of it like one of Bruce’s failed romances that so many live-action versions have done.
Tim Drake said it himself. Batman needs a Robin, to remind Bruce what he’s fighting for, to serve as a reminder of his conscience (especially during the Nightfall arc), to bring him closer to others. Batman and Robin: they’re the Dynamic Duo for a reason, old chum.