So, it’s done. Robert Pattinson’s psychotic Batman has bested the Riddler, and all is well. Despite being almost blown to smithereens, Alfred is recovering, and Catwoman has skipped town. Just another day in the eventful life of the Caped Crusader.
So now, the question-mark-bearing mastermind is incarcerated to leave us with one question. Where does Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne go from here? The Batman is a thrilling detective story, but the sequel needs to step it up a notch in the same way The Dark Knight overshadowed Batman Begins. In other words, Matt Reeves and his merry band need to shake things up to ensure the sequel feels fresh.
Time for Robin
The Batman is an exciting and chillingly melancholy reboot. However, there’s no doubt we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen a lot of its contents within Nolan’s beloved Dark Knight trilogy. A flirtatious Bat-Cat relationship that goes nowhere? Check. Exploring Gotham’s murky criminal underbelly? Check. Psychotic villain and final face-to-face chat in prison? Oh, check. I could go on.
You see, while Reeves and co. have hyped The Batman as a wholly different take on the hero, much of it is familiar. Now, this is not to say that it’s a bad movie – because it isn’t. In fact, it’s brilliant in places. However, the marketing was somewhat hyperbolic regarding how unique this iteration of Batman is, when in truth, we’ve seen this version in movies before (i.e., Nolan’s).
Given this, I propose some new material. Firstly, how about the next Batman film star Robin the Boy Wonder? We’ve seen a plethora of Bat-movies revolving around the Dark Knight walking glumly through poorly-lit corridors alone. Perhaps the franchise needs to reinvigorate itself to explore Batman the mentor – not Batman, the loner.
Training the Boy Wonder
Admittedly, the idea of having Robin in a supposedly-mature Batman movie is an unnerving one. After all, the last live-action movies to star the Boy Wonder were Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. But let’s face it – after the latter Schumacher flick put the franchise into hibernation for 8 years, nobody imagined a comeback so reinvigorating as Batman Begins.
Indeed, Nolan proved to the world that the Caped Crusader could bounce back after his terrible late-90s send-off. And, three years later, his sequel, The Dark Knight, would prove to the world that superhero movies weren’t just for kids. Indeed, the movie cried, mature, thoughtful cinema could arise from a film, even if its protagonist wore a cape and talked as though he had something permanently stuck in his throat.
Now, Matt Reeves’ latest Bat-flick has only further cemented the fact that Hollywood has figured out how to make the character work in live-action. But now, solo Batman’s cinematic formula has been perfected, and it’s time for a courageous Director to adapt his famous sidekick to the silver screen. Like Bats, Robin – or Dick Grayson – watches his parents murdered before his very eyes. The similarity between the young performer and his bat-costumed mentor should surely make for some interesting story, not to mention striking visuals.
Leaving Chris O’Donnell Behind
Of course, adapting Robin for the big screen has its dangers. Mainly, it’s hard to adapt the Batman-Robin pairing without coming off as cheesy or cringeworthy. The 1992 animated series makes it work because, while it is dark and explores adult themes, it still exudes the quirkiness of classic comic books. The modern live-action movies, in comparison, ground themselves purely in reality and don’t risk getting quirky. The cringe-inducing shadow of Batman & Robin looms over any filmmaker who tries their hand at making a Batman adventure. Indeed, it’s one of the most enduring lessons Hollywood has learned.
However, not every Robin needs to be Chris O’Donnell, who played a role in the two Joel Schumacher movies. The Batman 2 sets an opportunity to try a different, darker tack. Depict a more emotionally wrought Dick Grayson, recovering from his family’s murder. This link allows him to identify with Bruce Wayne and vice versa. Dick, at first, would be determined to seek bloody revenge for his parent’s demise. That’s where Batman comes in – even despite the hero’s psychotic state in the recent film; he knew where to draw the line. Having a vengeance-filled Robin would provide ample opportunity for Robert Pattinson’s Batman to step up as a mentor and assume a father-son relationship with Grayson, teaching him that killing won’t bring his family back.
Of course, this concept wouldn’t be too dissimilar from Val Kilmer-Chris O’Donnell’s relationship in Forever. In fact, despite that movie’s flaws, it nailed the Robin origin from a conceptual standpoint. However, The Batman 2 provides an opportunity to give it a mature spin without the hammy performances of Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Thomas Lee Jones Two-Face getting in the way.
Starting the Bat-Family
One element that Batman movies haven’t successfully adapted thus far is the Bat-family. In the comics, you have all manner of Bat-people, young heroes Bruce adopted to help them become strong and independent following their respective tragedies. If Matt Reeves and company are looking for a new angle to the Batman films, this could be it.
A movie where Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, and Cassandra Cain join forces with Robert Pattinson’s Batman to take down a common foe would be like a dark Avengers movie. It would also be incredibly awesome to see these characters interact on-screen for the first time, let alone be depicted in individual films.
The Batman 2 could potentially give us a Batman movie we haven’t seen before by starting out with Robin. An intriguing tale of superhero mentorship and a wise, experienced hero teaching a younger, greener hero how to handle his trauma. And once they manage to nail one member of the Bat-family, they can start doing the rest.
But whatever they decide, we are sure The Batman 2, Robin-less or not, needs to deviate a tad from previous Batman iterations if it wants to succeed in the Box Office. But with Matt Reeves currently teasing Robin for the sequel, our hopes remain high.
What do you think of The Batman? Would you like to see Robin fight alongside Robert Pattinson’s Caped Crusader in The Batman 2?