John Blake, one of the characters in Dark Knight Rises, is arguably just as much of a star as Bruce Wanye in the film. He is also revealed to be the Arial Avenging Boy Wonder, Robin.
So is Robin’s inclusion in this film a good thing? Does it fit? I’m going to have to say yes, on all accounts. When most people think of Robin they picture Burt Wart’s character. A spunky young lad who uses the word “Holy” more often than a catholic priest. The image of a campy kid who stinks of homosexual innuendos never escaped the main stream audience. Even though more mature versions of Robin have appeared, the second most recognized version of Robin is attached to the film “Batman and Robin.” A movie so bad that the director had to apologize to fans. A movie so bad that monkeys would rather pick up their own feces then dvd copies of this film. Thanks to these two infamous incarnations, few main stream fans believe Robin can be taken seriously. Well screw those guys. Robin is cool and Nolan’s proved it.
Christopher Nolan’s universe is much more realistic. Nolan’s Batman is more of a super ninja then “The peak of human potential.” In fact, technically, Bruce Wayne only carries the title of Batman for under 2 years. In the first film he’s only known as Batman for maybe a month, Dark Knight jumps forward a year and it’s time frame is under a months as well, and then we’re jumped forward 8 years to a Gotham with no Batman. You won’t find Joker Gas and Venom in this incarnation, so a 13 year old circus acrobat would be a very hard sell.
Rather than make Robin a teenager, he’s presented as a young man who was inspired as a boy by both Bruce Wayne. Nolan also went a different route then most others. Instead of choosing a character who’s carried the title “Robin” he created a new character actually named “Robin.” For Nolan’s universe this was the best route to take. Some fans feels cheated that the character’s real name wasn’t “Richard” or “Drake” but for Nolan’s story, naming the character Robin makes much more sense.
Long ago, in an interview, Christopher Nolan stated that a large reason he wouldn’t use Robin was that once you put that character in a story, it becomes a Robin story and not a Batman story. And even in the case of Dark Knight Rises, this was true. In many ways Dark Knight Rises was as much Blake’s story as Bruce Waynes. While Blake doesn’t ever fight Bane, he is forced to overcome many of the obstacles created by the villain and ends the film as a different person. This film in many ways is the origin story of how Blake becomes the successor of Batman. But still, why not use Dick, Tim, or even Jason, one of the Robins formally introduced in the comic book world.
No matter what Robin he chose, Nolan would be getting fans upset. If he chose Dick Grayson, fans would be upset that he wasn’t in the circus, if he chose Jason or Tim, fans would be upset they Nolan went out of “Robin order.” And even if he did chose Jason, fans would say “He’s gonna be killed by the Joker.” Instead Nolan merged the three iconic Robins into one. Similar to Dick he’s not only a cop (which Dick was in the comic books as an adult) but believes in “always doing the right thing,” sometimes to the point of being naive. Like Jason, his father was associated with crime leaving him with a angry chip on his shoulder, and like Tim, Blake is a gifted detective. And so what if Nolan created his own “Robin” character. He’s made created changes with nearly every other character he’s introduced. Joker’s smile being made of scars, Bane’s mask being meant for breathing, even the role Luscious Fox plays in Batman’s mission was changed.
But why even use Blake’s character at all? Blake represents the new generation of Gotham stepping up to the plate. Gordan, Fox, and Wayne have all aged and are on the way out. The Dark Knight trilogy is as much about Gotham as it is about Batman. Time after time we see this city put to the test, and the citizens always rise up in the end. Levitt’s character, Blake, is a direct product of Bruce Wayne’s mission. Blake watch Bruce return, he knows the sacrifices that were made, and he’s faced Gotham’s hardships head on. A reoccurring theme in “Rises” is hope, and Blake is Gotham’s next “Hope.”