WRITTEN BY CHASE BRIDGES
Batman is one of the most famous superheroes of all time. There is a reason we see some sort of Batman in film and television constantly. Already a comic book favorite, his fan base grew larger and larger when he was one of the only super heroes that were able to have successful ventures into mainstream film and tv.
Thanks to all of the different movies over the years we have seen tons of versions of Bruce Wayne and Batman. We’ve seen the different bat suits, bat-mobiles, and even bat signals. We have seen several different actors play Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, and The Joker. Tons of the The Joker.
However, someone that we have not seen a ton of is Robin, The Boy Wonder. Batman’s famous sidekick that is a major part of the comics, and the animated versions of Batman. He has shown up a few times over the years, but die-hard Batman fan’s just haven’t gotten to see one we really like on the big screen.
Hopefully Matt Reeves’ The Batman trilogy will finally give us a Robin we can all be proud of. But until then, let’s take a look at some of the great (and not so great) live action Robins from Film and TV!
BURT WARD (Batman 1966)
Adam West and Burt Ward were the first versions of Batman and Robin to really hit the mainstream with the hit show that ran from 1966-1968. As well as the live action movie they did in 1966!
Burt Ward’s version of Robin was silly and campy just as the show and movie was, but people absolutely loved it. In fact, many die hard Batman fans, especially ones that grew up watching the show and movie, consider him the greatest to ever don the Robin tights!
CHRIS O’DONNELL (batman forever, batman & robin)
Chris O’Donnell was brought into the 90’s Batman movie series to play the first live action version of the character since Burt Ward. After the first two Batman films in the series, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) were big hits thanks to director Tim Burton, the studio wanted to make a third one.
Director Tim Burton was set to return, as was Batman actor Michael Keaton. But after a falling out caused Burton to leave the directing chair, Keaton followed him out the door. The studio decided to make the film anyway, replacing Michael Keaton as Batman with Val Kilmer.
In this new version of the movie, they brought in actor Chris O’Donnell to play along side Kilmer as the famous sidekick. After the movie came out to…mixed reviews, O’Donnell still signed on to reprise his role in the fourth film Batman & Robin (1997) this time he was fighting along side the new Batman, George Clooney.
Batman & Robin was not loved by the Batman fans, or anyone for that matter. So needless to say, O’Donnell’s version of Robin is not one that is thought about fondly. It also did not help that O’Donnell was 27 at the time of the movie, and Robin is typically shown as 12 year old boy.
They did a decent job of explaining that this version of Robin was around 17 or 18, but it still felt pretty weird.
MARLON WAYANS (Burton’s third batman Film)
What? Marlon Wayans never played Robin! While Wayans never officially played the role, he did however get hired AND paid to play Tim Burton’s version of Robin in his sequel to Batman Returns.
If Burton had not have left the franchise, Wayans would have been the boy wonder along side Michael Keaton. But alas, Burton DID leave, and we will never see this version of Robin on the big screen. But what would it have been like?
Wayans would have been in his early 20’s when his version of Robin would have come out. And while he probably wouldn’t have looked quite as old as O’Donnell he still would have been an older version of Robin.
Do you think that Burton would have done a better job with the sidekick? Or was it doomed to fail no matter who was in the directors chair?
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT (The dark knight rises 2012)
The most recent and most popular Batman franchise is Christopher Nolan’s films with Christian Bale as the bat-costumed hero. An amazing trilogy that gave us a gritty, real world version of Batman that we had never seen before.
The first two films of the trilogy, Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) focused on Batman as a lone protagonist. It didn’t even hint towards a sidekick or any version of Robin. How could they? This grounded version of Batman has no room for a 12 year old boy in tights!
But Christopher Nolan surprised us all in his third and final film of the series The Dark Knight Rises (2012) when at the end of the movie the character John Blake, a police officer who helped Batman throughout, revealed that his real name was Robin.
This version of Robin was more of a nod to fans instead of an actual live action Robin, but still! It counts! People loved the reveal and thought that Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserved a solo movie as Robin or as Nightwing (the hero that the original Robin, Dick Grayson becomes.) That movie never came to fruition.
BRENTON THWAITES (Titans 2018-current)
When DC Universe started their original show Titans, fans were super excited to see a live action version of the famous Teen Titan comic book team. What became even more exciting is when the show came out and gave us a look at the live action Dick Grayson played by Brenton Thwaites.
Playing an older version of Robin at the beginning of the show, and showing the transformation into his own hero Nightwing, was one of the greatest parts of the series. The show is still running, in fact it just got picked up as a HBO Max original and will continue to show us Thwaites as Dick Grayson, the first ever Robin.
The show has it’s ups and downs, but no-one can deny that Thwaites is an amazing live action Robin and we are super excited to see more of him.
CURRAN WALTERS (titans 2018-current)
Dick Grayson isn’t the only Robin in the show Titans. The show introduces Jason Todd, the boy who becomes Robin after Dick Grayson leaves Batman’s side to become his own hero. In the comics, Jason Todd is infamous for being killed by The Joker and becoming the anti-hero Red Hood.
The show introduces Jason Todd played by Curran Walters in the first season, and he becomes a huge part of the show. Walters plays the hot headed character so well, that he immediately steals the show whenever on screen.
Knowing where the character is headed is exciting, because it means that we will get to see Walters as the Red Hood in season three of Titans. This is the first time we are seeing a live action version of Jason Todd and it will be the first ever live action version of Red Hood.
Usually when Robin is portrayed in live action, it is the Dick Grayson character. The one that starts off the Robin legacy. So getting to see the second Robin in action has been a huge highlight for Batman and Robin fans.
Here’s to hoping that we will get to see some more awesome live action Robin’s in the future. Matt Reeves’ The Batman series will hopefully give us a live action version of Robin that is more accurate to the comics, unlike the ones played by O’Donnell and Gordon-Levitt. It would be super cool to see a young Dick Grayson on the big screen.
Another potential live action Robin could be brought in by Titans. If the show plans on killing Jason Todd and turning him into the Red Hood, then how long before we get to see Tim Drake? The third Robin who takes up the tights after Jason Todd’s death.
If Titans continues to show us the history of the Robins, then we could even run into Damien Wayne eventually. The son of Bruce Wayne and the fourth and current Robin in the main comic book canon.
Finally, the only other place that we could currently run into a live action Robin would be in the CW’s Batwoman show. Perhaps Batwoman will call upon a fellow member of the Bat Family for help in a future season.
So what do you think about the live action Robins? Which is your favorite? Do you hope to see one in The Batman (2021)? Are you a fan of the Titans versions of Robin? Tell us about it!