After fighting crime in Gotham City for 20 years, the DCEU’s Batman has endured more pain and tragedy than most people have felt in a lifetime. One of the best examples of this in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is when Bruce Wayne is in the Batcave and he gazes at a display case near his own Batsuit containing a Robin costume with the words, "HA HA HA Joke’s On You, Batman" painted across the chest. There’s no dialogue in this scene, but we can easily see that years earlier, the Boy Wonder had been killed by The Joker. Unfortunately, with everything being squeezed into that movie, from the main story to foreshadowing the Justice League, no more time was dedicated to this moment. So what happened to Robin is this universe? As per usual, we look to the comics for background.
Jason Todd was introduced as the second Robin in 1983, but following the Crisis on Infinite Earths event rewriting the DC universe, his personality was altered so he was more rebellious and angry, and the fans did not care for that. It got to the point where DC Comics set up a telephone poll where fans could vote whether they wanted Jason Todd to die after he was beaten with a crowbar by The Joker and left to die in an explosion during the "A Death in the Family" story arc. Having Jason bite the dust earned the most votes, so Batman lost his second partner, and this would continue to haunt him for years afterwards. Jason was eventually resurrected as The Red Hood in 2005, and although he originally held a grudge against his former mentor, nowadays he’s an anti-hero and a more dependable ally. Nevertheless, the death of Jason Todd remains one of the most shocking moments in mainstream superhero comics.
Now that we know about the comic book history behind Robin’s death, what does that mean for the DCEU’s Robin? Recently, Snyder gave some more background to IGN about the Boy Wonder’s demise and how it affected Affleck’s Batman. He said:
In my mind, it was that Robin had died 10 years earlier during some run-in with a young Joker. So there was a fun backstory there to play with. I felt like the whole idea was that there had been loss and there had been sacrifice. In a weird way, he had sacrificed everything to be Batman. He doesn’t really have a life outside the cave. I thought that including Robin, a dead Robin, was helping us understand that he’s been on quite a little journey.
Aside from that time period, "loss and sacrifice" are the key takeaways from Snyder’s comments. Just like his comic book counterpart, Affleck’s Batman leaves the Robin costume on display as a reminder of his failure. He couldn’t save his young partner, so now whenever he dons or takes off the Batsuit, he has to look at that costume and feel the loss all over again. However, if you look closely at the quote, Snyder still doesn’t identify which Robin died.
There have been five Robins in the main DC continuity, and if you also include Carrie Kelley from The Dark Knight Returns (much of which inspired Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), that leaves six possibilities for the DCEU. For the sake of streamlining and simplicity, there are two candidates likelier than the others: Dick Grayson, the first Robin, and Jason Todd. We’ve already gone over why it’s probably Jason, but there’s stll a chance Dick could be the victim. If the first person Batman ever partnered with met a horrible fate, that would obviously weigh heavy on him and may have been the reason he decided to work alone for good.
However, the main reason we believe it’s probably not Dick is that Warner Bros almost certainly wouldn’t pass up the chance to feature Nightwing in live action. Dick’s been rocking that identity since the early ‘80s, and it would be interesting for non-comic book fans to see that not all of Batman’s associates stayed by his side. In Dick’s case, he moved out of Batman’s shadow and made a name for himself outside of Gotham City. So for now, we believe it’s Jason who met his demise, but until the identity is revealed either on-screen or by one of the DC movie brass in an interview, we’ll still be in the dark. That said, if the new Batman solo movie ended up featuring Red Hood, discovering Jason was alive again would definitely throw the Caped Crusader for a loop.
As for Robin’s killer, Joker will be played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, but it’s unknown whether the murder will be mentioned or even seen in the movie. It could be something as simple as the murder being listed as one of the many crimes the Clown Prince of Crime committed or even seeing flashes of the event unfold in front of us. Either way, we know the psychopath isn’t at all remorseful for what he did. He’s responsible for countless atrocities, but for Batman personally, taking Robin away will always be among his worst offenses.
Some fans are also speculating that one of the scenes being included in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s R-rated "Ultimate Edition" is the Robin murder, which, if it’s as vicious as it was in the comics, definitely wouldn’t have fit the PG-13 rating. This, along with Jena Malone reportedly playing Barbara Gordon, would shine more light on Batman’s past and made it clearer to the audience all of the horrible things that have happened in Bruce’s life since becoming Batman. In that brief moment in the second DCEU installment, we learned that being Batman’s partner doesn’t preclude you from a tragic fate. Now we need to find out exactly what happened all those years ago.
It may be a while until we get more concrete details surrounding the DCEU’s dead Robin, but in the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments below about what happened to the Boy Wonder and how his demise might play into the future of this cinematic universe.
Which Robin Do You Think Wore That Suit?