In the media there is a certain preconception of Robin the Boy Wonder, people tend to think he’s generally lame and a total joke of a character. This view has been inspired by the dreadful portrayal of Robin on the screen in both the old campy TV series and in the films in which robin was portrayed as a boring and annoying old man. Robin is seen as a stupid character that has no right existing.
This is a fracking travesty.
Robin is, by far, one of my favourite super heroes to have ever existed in fiction. He’s awesome. The problem arises, and the view differs, because yes the film and TV versions of robin are rubbish but the comic book version is the one that’s good. Granted over the years Robin is a moniker that’s been held by a few individuals; but the main two are excellent. Dick Grayson was the first robin and his master of acrobatics made him brilliant at navigating roof tops and also aided in his superb fighting style. He was intelligent and had a charming disposition that nicely offset the dark knight’s harder edge. He later went on to become Nightwing and was even better in that role than he ever was as robin.
My personal favourite Robin is Tim Drake, this is a person with a great sense of humour, a mastery of martial arts and a detective and deductive mind that surpasses even Batman himself. From the get go Tim was depicted as a detective greater than batman as he is the only one, ever, to work out who wears that cowl. He also has this great point of view that I can really get behind, he didn’t become Robin due to some kind of trauma, no, he became Robin because he saw a Batman without one and realised that Batman needs a Robin.
This idea that Batman can’t exists properly without a Robin is something I’ve believed for the longest time. Those two are intrinsically linked in a way that no other two super heroes, or other heroes and sidekicks, ever are. Bats is a very dark and brooding character that’s always on the verge of insanity, he’s a character that sits apart and above the world and views it with an analytical sense of distance. Robin is needed because he provides Bats with a human side, a side to rein Bruce in and keep him connected to the real world. Furthermore they also give Bruce support and act as a family, he views each of those Robins as sons and cares for them deeply. With his super hero career he could never really have a proper family; so these kids he takes under his wing are his surrogate sons.
Aside from the emotional connections there is also the important fact that Batman is human, painfully human. He may be a total bad a** capable of defeating all foes but he can be hurt and having backup in these situations is vital, that’s one thing a Robin provides. Though what most people don’t like to think about is that one day Bruce will die, old age is ultimately the one foe batman won’t be able to defeat. But the world needs a batman and part of the Robin thing is to create heroes ready to replace him. Recently in the comics Bruce Wayne died and Dick Grayson stood up and took the role of Batman for himself, he became the Dark Knight and did quite a good job.
You can question if it’s right to put children in danger or if these kids make Bats weak and vulnerable, look at Jason Todd. You can also argue that teenagers make poor super heroes as they are immature. I don’t see that; Bruce Wayne is a very intelligent guy and he only ever picks those that show a potential and a maturity to be a hero. He’s also a great trainer and if anyone can prepare a person for that kind of life, to prepare them for the dangers this life can bring, it’s him.
There is a section in a Grant Morrison run of batman where someone tries to kidnap a character called Damien from Bruce’s mansion and they attack when they know Bat’s isn’t there. They do know that Tim Drake, Robin, is still there and to deal with him who do they send? Only about fifty Ninjas and do you know what? Tim deals with them easily. Robin is a total bad a** in the comics and Bruce has made them that way so they can handle most situations. You just… you don’t mess with Robin because he’ll kick your a**.
Robin is incredibly cool and I just wish that someone, anyone, would make a version of Robin in more popular media that would reflect this.