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I Had A Killer Robin Theory For The Batman, But Matt Reeves Totally Shot It Down

This article contains massive spoilers for the new film The Batman, so stop reading right now if you haven’t yet seen the movie, and want to stay in the dark about huge plot turns. 

When The Batman ended, and all of the characters were set up on the chess board for the next possible movie in this Matt Reeves version of Gotham City, I was convinced that the director was dropping massive hints about the origin of a seminal character in Batman lore: Robin, the Boy Wonder. It was my belief that Reeves was repeatedly teasing the character of Mayor Don Mitchell Jr.’s son, played by young Archie Barnes, as the eventual Robin opposite Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight. We looked in on the kid after he discovered his father’s corpse. Bruce rescues the kid from a barreling SUV at the funeral. We see him again in the arena, and the coincidences seemed to be too many, and too obvious, to ignore.    

Well, we were lucky enough to have Matt Reeves as a guest on CinemaBlend’s official podcast, ReelBlend, and I floated this idea to The Batman director. I asked him point blank if he was setting up Mayor Mitchell’s son to be this universe’s Robin, and the director confessed:

Interesting. Um, no. But do you know what? It's a cool idea. It wasn't the intention! But actually… why would I say that? Why would I… because it's a cool idea. And if I did it, then basically now, I'm going to have to give you credit!

You heard it here first, people. If Matt Reeves decides to make Mayor Mitchell’s son Robin in The Batman 2, or whatever it ends up being called, then I get a Story By credit for that screenplay. Mind you, Reeves admits that this wasn’t his intention. When I point out how often the kid popped up throughout the remainder of the movie, Reeves referred back to the first moment that Batman even became aware of the kid’s existence… which was when he saw the boy’s bloody footprint at the crime scene that opens the film. As Reeves elaborates:

(Basically), he is Bruce. Again, we weren't doing an origin tale. So I needed to find a way to make sure that you felt what was going on in an internal way – that you understood how Bruce/Batman was feeling. So he needed to be constantly confronted by his past, without the pearls. We had to find ways of doing it. And for me, the idea at the end of that (crime) scene, where he comes in and he is trying to be… look, to me, the reason that somebody becomes Batman is because they are trying to exercise any vulnerability. He doesn't want to be vulnerable ever again. That feeling of being 10, being helpless, losing your parents, the people you love, your whole world – he never wants to experience that again. And so the idea of being Batman is to try and create this fantasy of being invincible and using that to try and help the city. And so this idea that he comes into this crime scene and he's now this spiritualist, he's this Shaman, he's the world's greatest detective. And at the end of it, that he'd see a footprint and that Gordon would turn to him and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I was the kid who found him.’ It would suddenly bring him right back to the scene of the crime of his own parents’ murder. And so he was looking at that kid because they understand each other, unspoken, in a way that very few people that he's encountered do. And so the idea of him recurring is just that. And that was also the idea of Andy Serkis, of Alfred, seeing it too. That when he sees the boy looking, that Alfred is seeing Bruce's eyes in that kid, too, that we wanted to find a way to not see Bruce Wayne, but to see Bruce Wayne as a child.

So Mayor Mitchell’s son is meant to be a visual representation of young Bruce, of a similar child wrecked by tragedy who will have to come up with his own way of dealing with grief. So, in the closing moments of The Batman, when Batman carries the boy to safety outside of the arena and loads him onto a helicopter stretcher, the Bat is actually “saving” a physical manifestation of young Bruce Wayne. The caped crusader is saving “Bruce.” 

But Matt Reeves wouldn’t let me get away cleanly, as he also threw in (as a joke):   

But also now, I also had this great idea that Mitchell's son was gonna become Robin. That was really cool.

We’re patiently awaiting confirmation on a Batman sequel for Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson, especially after the movie enjoyed such a massive opening at the domestic and worldwide box office. The Batman is one of five upcoming DC movies reaching theaters in 2022, so celebrate if you subscribe to that forum of comic-book movie adaptations.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.