Ben Affleck recently gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly for their Superhero Face Punch issue in which he talks about his older, even more cynical Batman, and the open-ended promise of a Batfleck-directed Batman movie, but the thing nerds are fixating on is that Affleck confirms that at the time of Superhero Face Punch, Robin is dead. So if you were looking forward to a peppy sidekick, don’t, because this Batman is marinating in his grief and bitterness. He’s all “darkness” and “no parents”.
Originally there was speculation that Jena Malone was maybe playing Robin, but she isn’t, and besides, her role ended up being cut from the final film. (Word is, she actually played Barbara Gordon and we’ll see her in the R-rated home video version.) And when the trailers first started coming out for this movie, oh, nine years ago, one of the major reveals was that Batman has enshrined a Robin suit tagged with Joker graffiti that says, “Hahaha, joke’s on you Batman.” So we had a pretty good idea already that Robin was in the ground by this point, and Batfleck confirms it.
Everyone wants to discuss WHICH Robin has been killed—it’s going to be Dick Grayson because that’s the only name the wider public recognizes. Besides, if they’re not doing the Carrie Kelly/female Robin thing, I don’t really care about Batman’s boy wonder. It wasn’t interesting when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was maybe playing Robin, and it’s not interesting now. There is such a presumption of empathy with superheroes—filmmakers assume because we recognize a name or iconic costume that we automatically care about a character, when the actual movie has done nothing to actually earn that affection. Beyond the fact that he’s Batman’s famous sidekick, we have no real reason to care that a Robin we never met or saw in action is dead.
What I really want to talk about, though, is Robin’s little boy shorts. Look at this costume! He’s got a spear and a cape and body armor—and booty shorts!
I so hope that when we get around to that Batfleck solo movie we go back in time and get to see younger-in-his-prime Batman fight alongside whichever damaged youth he had working as Robin that week, and the discussion they had about uniforms that resulted in Robin wearing these pleather boy shorts. And then I want to see the boy shorts in action. And then I want to see the resulting Halloween costume with Robin’s boy shorts. This will be the DCEU’s legacy.