Clearing the Air

Did Christopher Nolan Ever Say Robin Wouldn't be in the Bat Franchise? Looks Like No, He Didn't

Could Joseph Gordon-Levitt be Dick Grayson?

I guess I need to keep a more watchful eye on my RSS feeds for stories to lift from other sources as I completely missed Deadline's February 1 report that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in talks to reunite with Inception director Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises. I clicked around the net to see if anyone else missed the story and obviously none of them did as The Dark Knight stories are a big deal on the search engine optimization circuit. Many of them even took to predicting just who exactly Levitt could be playing.

The Wrap mentions characters including the Riddler, Dr. Hugo Strange and Robin. *Record Scratch*

What? Robin you say? But didn't Christian Bale say, "If Robin crops up in one of the new Batman films, I'll be chaining myself up somewhere and refusing to go to work." Before you put too much stock in that alleged statement from 2008, that frequently quoted Bale reply comes via the World Entertainment News Network (WENN), a highly unreliable rumor source. Not to mention it's a ridiculous quote in the first place as Film School Rejects contributor Cole Abaius says on Twitter, "Because Bale could really boycott doing the movie because a character he doesn't like is added."

Putting the quote aside for a second and trying to figure out this Robin conundrum, a couple of days ago Robin's name cropped up again as WILX.com in Lansing, Michigan reported the following:

According to Eaton County and Grand Ledge officials who didn't want to be identified due to confidentiality agreements, production crews from The Dark Knight Rises scouted locations in Grand Ledge's Fitzgerald Park last week.

They looked at the Ledges as well as a water treatment plant located inside the park. Sources say the area is being considered as a hideout for Batman sidekick Robin.

Could this be true?

Scott Davis of the Lansing State Journal did a bit of investigating as the news of Robin's hideout spread across the net like wildfire and asked Jon Bayless, Grand Ledge city manager, about the scout and Bayless said, "It'll be Robin's office." Davis then adds his own bit of "reporting" writing, "Christopher Nolan, the director of the movies, has insisted that he will never direct a Batman movie with Robin as a character." Uh, he did?

Searching for "Robin", "Christopher Nolan", "Never Direct Batman" and other various search queries on Google returns speculation and nonsense, no actual quotes. I couldn't find a quote anywhere where Nolan said Robin would never be a part of the franchise. I only found people saying he said that.

Next I took to Twitter and asked my followers if they had any links to quotes and was finally directed to Batman On Film where they have a couple of quotes addressing all of these recent rumors.

"Dick Grayson's still in a crib somewhere. I seriously doubt I will even be involved when Robin's in the franchise." - Christopher Nolan

"[Including Robin in Nolan's Batman film] would be tricky." - David Goyer

I'll address the second quote first.

Setting aside the fact Goyer isn't saying Robin will never appear, I can't find a single instance on the Internet where David Goyer actually said including Robin would be "tricky". I did find a quote from Nolan at Esquire saying, "The Penguin would be tricky," but nothing about Robin.

Now, for that first quote attributed to Christopher Nolan. It comes from a 2005 post at SuperheroHype quoting a reader named "trev" who told the site Nolan talked to his local paper, "The Lacenby News" about possible Batman Begins sequels.

As if those facts weren't enough to discount the story, what is "The Lacenby News"? I sure don't know and a search on Google returns nothing. Even searching for just "Lacenby" on Google and Wikipedia returns nothing other than the suggestion I may actually be looking for George Lazenby, the car salesman-turned-actor that played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Even Google Maps can't find a single place in the world called Lacenby (which actually amazed me). Finally, the quote above isn't even the full alleged quote.

For starters, I have no idea if this is a real quote (and I have every reason to doubt it is legit), but the full quote reads, "This is a young Batman, so Robin's a few films....not for a few pictures anyway. Dick Grayson's still in a crib somewhere. I seriously doubt I will even be involved when Robin's in the franchise." I've read that quote a few times now, I didn't see the word "never". In fact, it sounds like Robin will likely show up at some point based on what I'm reading.

Now, I'm not saying there may not be another quote out there, but based on what I can find (and it's like searching for a needle in a haystack out there) Nolan has never said Robin would not appear in one of his films. Six years ago he might have said (to a seemingly fictional non-existent news outlet) Robin's appearance was unclear and maybe not for a few films. But even that quote sounds more promising than the "Nolan said Robin would never show up" comments I see in pretty much every article and comment thread on the Internet.

So, has Joseph Gordon-Levitt been cast as Dick Grayson (aka Robin) in The Dark Knight Rises? We obviously don't know, but if so it sounds like it may be similar to the Joker card ending Nolan included in Batman Begins. Nolan recently spoke with Film.com and when asked whether he ever intended to make sequels to Batman Begins he replied, "Not immediately. We saw Batman Begins as a stand-alone film. The Joker card was just an exciting way to say it could carry on. But as the film came out, I just became fascinated by seeing that character in this world."

Wouldn't adding a small bit with Dick Grayson at the end of The Dark Knight Rises be a perfect way for Nolan to end his franchise? After all, he's already said this will be his last Batman film and even told Film.com's Cole Haddon why he felt he had to return for a third one, "[It] was about finishing the story. For me, it's all about endings. How does it end? I think with Bruce Wayne's story, that's what's interesting."

Robin has been a sore spot for many Bat-fans, much of that disgust coming as a result of Chris O'Donnell's portrayal of the character in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, also known as "The Nipple Years." As far as I see it, perhaps Nolan has figured out a way to make sure nobody can touch his Bat-franchise without introducing Robin in the fourth film, a task not many directors would want to take on. Not only would a new director have to try and live up to the three films Nolan created, but they would also have to work Robin into the storyline.

I'm just spit-balling here, but all the "Nolan and Bale said Robin would never be in the film" comments are unfounded and attributed to sketchy quotes at best. I see no reason why Joseph Gordon-Levitt couldn't play Grayson in a small cameo appearance, it would simply add to the mystique.

The Dark Knight Rises is slated to hit theaters on July 20, 2012 with Christian Bale returning along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. Tom Hardy will play the film's lead villain Bane and Anne Hathaway, as already stated, will play Selina Kyle. Shooting is expected to take place in London and Los Angeles in May.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Lane/805367969 Sam Lane

    Yeah I remember hearing that quote from Nolan years ago too right after Batman Begins came out. I can't remember where I heard it, but it was in connection with the little boy that spots Batman on the ledge in the first film. Some people were suggesting he could become Robin later. I've often wondered if it would be more fitting for Nolan's Batman films to introduce Nightwing instead of Robin. I'm no expert on the characters, but the little I do know about it, Nightwing seems to be a darker, more realistic character that would fit in Nolan's world better.

    • Jon

      I had to wonder about that as well because the boy in Batman Begins seemed to get a lot more air time than was really necessary if they were hinting toward something in the future. And then they pounded the statement some more in The Dark Knight about wanting to inspire people and what type of inspiration he wanted to play. I would like to see them keep the story a little more dark than what Robin would traditionally bring to the table. But to Nolan's credit, if he says he can do that with bringing in Robin, I trust him more than I did with Joel Schumaker.

    • Susan

      Sam - Nightwing's not an innately darker character. He is merely Dick Grayson once he stopped being Batman's partner in the 1980s.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Lane/805367969 Sam Lane

        Oh ok. The only thing I have seen with Nightwing is that animated movie that came out a while back. It seemed to suggest they were different people but maybe I misunderstood it...

    • Shaun

      Nightwing is not really a dark character but rather an older more experienced Robin. The costume is dark (Black/Blue) and is more respectable looking. To have as Nightwing instead of Robin would skip past a lot of history Batman and Robin has had together. One of the reasons Robin became Nightwing was the fact that he wanted to be out of Batman's shadow.

  • Will

    Whether or not Robin is in the film, I think Nolan has earned a little bit of our trust, no? I'm sure there were people confused as to why he would include the joker and cast someone like Heath Ledger. Look how that worked out.

    Besides, casting JGL as Robin could definitely work out well IMO. I don't know or care much about 'Batman lore,' but from what I understand there's definitely some dark territory you could cover with that character.

  • maja

    Great article there Brad, and some good investigation work too! I have seen many people saying that Nolan had said that he would never have a Robin in his Batman films, but I do kind of like your idea of a Robin cameo at the end to make sure noone could continue the franchise...that would be very clever indeed.

  • Jon

    I have had a bit of difficulty believing that it was entirely out of the cards, but I like the insinuation that it could be a cliffhanger to what happens after The Dark Knight Rises. I have always been clear that I want Batman to die at the end of the third. I would love to see Joseph Gordon Levitt introduced as Grayson but not Robin and have the question of who would protect Gotham now that Bruce Wayne has died.

    On a different note, I would love to see the Black Mask emerge as a character for Joseph Gordon Levitt if they can avoid the horrible end result Spiderman 3 had by sticking in as many villains as possible. I think that Black Mask is a good offset to Bruce Wayne and he is a heavily overlooked villain in the Batman franchise that would generate excitement, but not necessarily familiarity somewhat like Ras al' Ghul in Batman Begins.

  • Emily

    I don't want to add to the speculation but the Grayson's in the crib comments confuse me, because if I remember my DC lore correctly (and I don't) Grayson was introduced concurrently with the books that Begins and Dark Night were based on. Not that you should ever use wikipedia for a source but

    "Batman: Year One exists not only in the mainstream DC-continuity, but also in the same continuity as the other storylines in Miller's "Dark Knight Universe", consisting of The Dark Knight Returns, its sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Spawn/Batman, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder.[3] ... 13-issue maxiseries that recounted Batman's early years as a crime-fighter following the events of Miller's original story and retold the origins of Two-Face and Dick Grayson."

    But thank you for your article, I appreciate you looking into it. If he's not JGL he'll probably be another person from those books, Alberto Falcone aka the Holiday Killer maybe?

    • http://m0vie.wordpress.com Darren

      Yep. Batman Begins is roughly analagous to Batman: year One. Despite Nolan and Goyer's claims to the contrary, the movie borrows a fair whack from that version of Batman's origin, if only in the Gordon and Batman dynamic and more thematic points.

      The Dark Knight is directly inspired by The Long Halloween, which actually now comes with an introduction from Nolan and Goyer. It follow the fall of Harvey Dent and Batman's isolation.

      The sequel to The Long Halloween is Dark Victory, which picks up on the themes of Batman's withdrawal and sense of depression. It does feature Robin, but only in the second half of the book (and he only appears in costume in the final few pages).

  • WillE

    I would rather see Dick Grayson as a preteen age boy when introduced at the end of the film. No Robin though.

  • sonofsunday

    "*Record Scratch*" Hahaha (:

    GREAT article, Brad. You really looked at everything here, including things I never realized. Personally, if Nolan is gonna put Robin in the film, I think that he could pull it off.

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

    I don't think Robin will be in the series... And should they cast him, I don't know why they'd go with a guy like JGL. Fact is Robin, at least in the comics when he's first introduced, is a kid. They got it wrong with O'Donnell when they brought him in as much older - why would they make the same mistake again?

    I also think that you already have Bane and Catwoman in there. That to me, already sounds pretty packed. TDK was so packed with Joker and Twoface - it was paced to quickly. To bring in another character like Robin and try to tell all the stories and make them work would be a HUGE task to pull off. Not that Nolan couldn't do it, but I feel it would be far too much story to cram into a 2.5 hour film while trying to do all the characters justice and wrap up loose ends.

    The idea of having an ending leading into the next films involving Robin is an interesting one, but I do think it puts the following filmmakers in a compromising spot, and I think it's contrary to Nolan's statements regarding closing his story. He's ending a trilogy here, I think it's going to be a clean cut photo finish.

  • Jesse Kellestine

    Wow I really can't believe that people still refuse to let things go.

    Nolan said in 2005 that Grayson is in a crib somewhere. The Dark Knight Rises, presumably only takes months, maybe a few years at the most after The Dark Knight, the likely character JGL will play is a "side kick" of sorts, but more of an investigative gent, not a crimefighter.

    Also Robin has been hinted at in Gordon's son, he clearly has taken a shine to Batman, and understands he and his dad have a friendship.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      So you just decided not to read the article at all? Tough, but fair.

      • Jon

        On a side note, are they still looking for another female actress to play a major role? I hadn't heard much solid since the casting of Anne Hathaway. If so, whats the speculation that the other female role could be Oracle (aka Babs Gordon)

      • Feedback

        Barbara was a baby in the last film, I doubt it. I hope Robin isn't in it... He is completely unnecessary... Only when Bruce is older, in his 40's, should he get a sidekick. Because its unnecessary to become a father-figure until that. Batman is still trying to find himself and analyze himself, he is very premature in his role as Batman. Having a sidekick is very impractical at this time.

        Maybe if Christian Bale and Nolan reunite in 8-10 years for a 4th film, they can add Robin.

      • Jon

        I know that Gordon's daughter was young in The Dark Knight, but wasn't Oracle Gordon's niece/adopted daughter in one of the story lines? I may be wrong, I am a little rusty on my Batman knowledge. That was the assumption I made when I suggested that as a possibility.

  • Jesse Kellestine

    Robin's Office.
    Robin's hideout.

    Robin Williams, Hugo Strange lol.

    • AJ

      Heh... That would definitely be funny.

  • AJ

    Well, if these reports are accurate and they really are introducing a Robin who has his own hideout, then they're obviously deviating from the comic history, so really anything goes. I think it could be interesting if Batman is considered a murderer (as suggested by the end of TDK) and Robin is a kid who takes up the job of Gotham's protector and hunts Batman.

  • Jordan Drake

    I've been reading this site for several years now, but I think this might be my first time posting anything.

    First, that was a great read. That level of depth is why I keep coming back to your site.

    Second, while I've always thought the possibility of Robin was possible, with the inclusion of Bane as a villain I'm not sure that's a logical route for Nolan to take.

    I'm not very well versed in Batman lore, but I've followed some of the general storylines. The major event involving Bane had him breaking Batman's back and Bruce Wayne temporarily being replaced by a man named Jean-Paul Valley. Valley eventually became unstable and ultra-violent and had to be taken out by Batman. I think, based on Nolan's previous paths with Batman, that it's more likely he'd cast Levitt as Valley as opposed to Robin.

    Granted, there are several problems with that choice. Batman's broken back is eventually healed by some supernatural means (so says Wikipedia anyways), and Nolan has indicated he doesn't want that kind of element in his vision of Batman. Plus, where would Catwoman fit in?

    Nolan has set up Bruce Wayne as a lone wolf with a heavy burden, and I think the inclusion of a sidekick like Robin would take away from that aspect--making Batman's pain less potent. Adding Levitt as Jean-Paul Valley would provide both a sidekick (of sorts) and more of the complicated, intense conflict that Nolan has used in the previous films. Still, combine all that with Catwoman and you would have essentially three villains, which may be a little much.

    Just a thought, but either way I tend to trust Nolan with this series. Even if Robin is included I'm sure he will work it in a way that's damn cool.

    • Jake

      In the Knightfall comic series where Bane breaks Batman's back both Catwoman and Robin are featured so they would both be could be used in this story. Then again Knightwing is involved in that story as well so really there is no way of telling what Nolan will do in his movie.

  • goavs

    I hope Robin is not in it.

  • Mirch

    Check out the Holiday Killer story line. I think that's what the plot will mostly be like. JGL could be Holiday Killer. Selina Kyle has a role in that story line and it deals with mobsters which the first two Nolan Batman movies deal with.

  • A K D

    Ok, in one of the comics I believe that Bane breaks Batman's back and then someone takes his place and takes Bane down. So, what if Nolan is setting up a new Batman to where the next director (if he wanted to) would already have a Batman in place? Just a thought

    • A K D

      Also, if this was just a cameo then Nolan would have just requested that he appear unaccredited (wouldn’t be the first time, The Brothers Bloom) to aide in disguise and JGL would have done that in heart beat for Nolan.

  • austin

    I really don't care what characters are added into The Dark Knight Rises. I have complete faith in whatever Nolan has planned.

  • Huzaif M

    I'm of the opinion that maybe JGL will be cast as Harvey Bullock. If you remember at the end of The Dark Knight, Batman is being chased by the police which would lead to the Batman Task Force being created. Given that Harvey Bullock is so against the idea of Batman and does his best to end his tenure as Gotham's protector and leave matters to the police, having the Task Force without Bullock sounds alien to me. Plus, I could see Nolan creating a new younger, fitter, and sleeker Bullock as a huge counterpoint to the fat older Bullock everyone is so used to seeing on TV. Hey, maybe he's Robin maybe not. Maybe he'll be an amalgram of both Grayson and Tim Drake (who himself deduced Wayne and Batman are the same person) and force himself to be a partner of Batman. Who am I but another fanboy that loves speculation?

  • William

    Interesting in regards to the production reports; but I could swear that I remember Nolan talking about Robin during the special features of Batman Begins, and mentions him as a boy/young teen, acting more like a detective/spy rather than an action oriented super hero. I can't remember the full details obviously, but it seemed that he always pictured Robin younger; there were even drawings of Robin, in a trench coat or something over his "costume."

  • Colin

    Anyone want to speculate that with so many characters this film's running time will easilly exceed three hours. It's not like WB is going to fight Nolan about the films length.

  • Leandro Dubost

    Robin is a nice character, but I don think it's complicated to adapt it. It would be curious to see what Nolan can do with it, but I still think it's 'too soon'.
    I'd rather the just finished the storyline, with Batman only. Catwoman and Bane are enough characters already, not ignoring the whole secondary cast like Gordon and Alfred.

    And this point, adding Dick Grayson could be a little too much. Maybe for the next time, I don't know...

  • oldskool138

    Nolan said he didn't want to use villains that have been in other Batman movies and he's using two who are. If he's being less than honest about Robin, it wouldn't surprise me.

  • able conley

    this may be over thought but i think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be able to pull off a cameo apperance as the Jocker in Arkam.

  • Matthew

    I believe that The Riddler will be the main villain.

    I also believe there will be another female villain lead.

    I think Bane and Selina Kyle will be supporting characters.

    I obviously have no reason to support this, but I just want to log my guess. There is a storyline in the legend where the Riddler deduces Batman's identity and breaks strong villains out of Arkham Asylum. I think this may be the one they are going for. Just my opinion. I have no reason to believe this. OR DO I? ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Honore/100001609178796 Marc Honore

    At this point any character can come out of the wood works and rock this Batman movie Nolan go all out it will be so big people will be saying Best Picture.

  • richerich

    I look at that picture...and all I see is Edward Nygma.

  • William

    There are rumors now from a french magazine that Marion Cotillard is in talks to play a major role in it as well; getting crowded!

  • http://www.batmanvsuperman.com Batman

    Turns out he won't be Robin after all.

  • Brandon

    Im sitting here--I just finished watching Batman Begins--and I still find it extremely hard to believe that the Joker wasn't planned. If it was planned to be a stand-alone cinema, then why would you end with Gordon showing Batman a Joker card with a subsequent verse uttered by Batman that went like this, "I'll get him." I just down understand how you could plan on doing that (make a one movie series of an American hero, much more our only one left, someone could say after the Superman tragedy). I could understand with Thor or The Green Lantern, but they would probably merge together.

  • sebach

    Robin WON'T BE in Nolan's Batman saga. Move on dudes, seriously, who needs him!?! The trilogy is just perfect with the vigilante alone.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Move on? This post is over a year old? I think we have, why are you still worrying yourself about this?

  • Aravind Sivasailam

    I didn't know who you were until i searched for "Nolan + Robin" query on Google and found you. You're a genius, dude and congrats. you pretty much figured out the ending and predicted it well. :)
    Future directors will curse and swear at Nolan for not being able to make the franchise. :P That will be interesting actually!

  • Paul

    Huzzah!

  • G-Man

    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES SPOILERS

    After watching a second time and realizing how much they focused on portraying that "Blake" as an orphan, I am surprised I didn't predict this when watching the first time.