Dick Grayson
Robin
Joel Schumacher's Batman character
DickGraysonBatmanForever.jpg
Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson and Robin in Batman Forever
First appearanceBatman Forever (1995)
Last appearanceBatman & Robin (1997)
Based on
Adapted by
Portrayed byChris O'Donnell
In-universe information
Full nameRichard John "Dick" Grayson
OccupationCircus performer
Family
  • John Grayson (father; deceased)
  • Mary Grayson (mother; deceased)
  • Mitch Grayson (brother; deceased)
HomeWayne Manor, Gotham City

Dick Grayson, better known by his superhero alias Robin, is a fictional character from Joel Schumacher's superhero films Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin, portrayed by Chris O'Donnell, based on the DC Comics character Robin, created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.

In the film series, Richard "Dick" Grayson is in his mid-to-late teens and is the younger of two brothers. The "Flying Graysons" act are depicted as a family quartet (instead of a trio). Grayson's parents and older brother are killed by Two-Face instead of Tony Zucco like in the comics.

Character arc

Batman Forever

Dick Grayson's parents and older brother were murdered by Two-Face during a hostage situation at the annual Gotham Circus after the family helps get rid of a bomb rigged to explode. Bruce Wayne takes him in as his ward out of guilt for being unable to save Dick's family. Dick however, is more interested in taking out Two-Face by himself.

Suspicious of Bruce's and Alfred Pennyworth's behavior around a certain door they keep locked, Dick ends up finding his way into the Batcave after discoing an entrance to the concealed behind a silverware storage cupboard. Later in the film, Dick takes the Batmobile for a joy ride without Batman's permission or awareness. Having discovered Wayne's identity as Batman, Dick insists on becoming a crime-fighter himself, taking on the name "Robin", an old nickname courtesy of his late father and older brother, and collaborating with Batman to defeat Two-Face and the Riddler and avenge his family. Before taking on the name Robin, Dick considers "Nightwing" as a possible codename.

The Batboat piloted by Robin is quickly destroyed by the Riddler and Two-Face.

Batman & Robin

Tension between Batman and Robin is present in the film due to Robin growing tired of playing second fiddle to Batman and desiring to break free from Batman's shadow, particularly after Robin's recklessness leads to him getting frozen by Mr. Freeze. These feelings are later amplified when Poison Ivy exposes Robin to her mind-altering pheromone dust and causes him to fall in love with her, sowing seeds of doubt regarding Batman's faith in his ward. Ivy even alters the Bat-Signal by changing it to a "Robin-Signal" to lure Robin into a trap. In the film's climax, Robin eventually sees through Ivy's schemes and makes amends with Batman, and throughout the film, it is hinted that he harbors romantic feelings towards Alfred's niece, Barbara Wilson, who later becomes Batgirl.

Development

Robin did not appear in the Tim Burton movies Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). This was an unusual move as the two 1940s serials as well as the 1966 movie and attendant TV show had presented the 'Dynamic Duo' as an inseparable pair, with the general public unaware that the comic-book incarnation of Batman often worked alone. The special edition version of the Batman (1989) DVD features an animated storyboard sequence of when Robin's parents are killed by the Joker. Jason Hillhouse provides the voice of Dick Grayson, while Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their respective roles (from the DC animated universe) as Batman and the Joker in the storyboard sequence. Burton planned to cast Northern Irish actor Ricky Addison Reed as Robin, but later felt it was unimportant to the story and cut Robin out altogether.

In an earlier script of Batman Returns, he was portrayed as a technologically savvy street kid who would help Batman following his narrow escape when The Penguin tried to kill him. He would later play a crucial role in Batman's final confrontation with The Penguin. In that script, he was simply called Robin, has no known real name, and was to be played by Marlon Wayans.[1] Wayans was considered for the role of Robin in Batman Forever, but the change in directors from Burton to Joel Schumacher would also mean a change in the choice of actor for the role of Robin.[2]

Leonardo DiCaprio was considered, but decided not to pursue the role after a meeting with Schumacher. Matt Damon, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Worth, Toby Stephens, Ewan McGregor, Jude Law, Alan Cumming, Christian Bale (who starred as Batman/Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight trilogy), and Scott Speedman were considered also.[3]

Chris O'Donnell was cast and Mitch Gaylord served as his stunt double, and also portrayed Mitch Grayson, Dick's older brother, created for the film.[4] Allegedly at a comic book convention, they asked a group of 11-year-old boys, the target audience, which could win a fistfight. After the boys overwhelmingly declared O'Donnell the winner against Leonardo DiCaprio, he was ultimately given the role. Michael Worth was also one of the front-runners for the role of Robin. Worth ended up having a cameo alongside O'Donnell in one of the film's fight scenes (throwing the final kick at Robin in the alleyway).

Chris O'Donnell revealed to Access Hollywood that a Robin spin-off was planned but got scrapped after Batman & Robin.[5] He was the producers' original choice for the role of James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J in Men in Black (1997), but, after turning it down because he thought the character would be too similar to his role in Batman Forever, the role went to Will Smith.[6]

During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies, prompting them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to return as director for a fifth film. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, and Coolio were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Scarecrow.[7] It was hoped that the villains from previous films would make cameo appearances in the hallucinations caused by Scarecrow, culminating with Jack Nicholson reprising the role of the Joker. Following the poor critical and financial reception of Batman & Robin, Clooney vowed never to reprise his role.[7][8]

Costume

Slate noted that Robin wore a codpiece and "Bat-nipples" and said that what "Joel Schumacher produced wasn’t gay subtext; it was gay domtext."[9] Schumacher stated, "I had no idea that putting nipples on the Batsuit and Robin suit were going to spark international headlines. The bodies of the suits come from ancient Greek statues, which display perfect bodies. They are anatomically correct."[10]

Chris O'Donnell felt "it wasn't so much the nipples that bothered me. It was the codpiece. The press obviously played it up and made it a big deal, especially with Joel directing. I didn't think twice about the controversy, but going back and looking and seeing some of the pictures, it was very unusual."[10]

In the character's second appearance within the film series, Batman & Robin, Dick Grayson pursues being a vigilante on his own and wears the Nightwing costume design. His costume though, is a blue rubber suit with a red bird symbol on the chest. He also wears a silvery Arctic version of his Robin costume. O'Donnell complained of the Robin costume, saying it was more involved and uncomfortable than the one he wore in Batman Forever, with a glued-on mask which caused sweat to pool on his face.[11]

Redbird

As with the Batmobile, Robin's motorcycle, the Redbird as seen in Batman & Robin was a ground-up build, utilizing fiberglass and carbon fiber.[12] The company TFX developed the Redbird on a Honda off-road motorcycle.

The Redbird has two drive nozzles, which allows the vehicle to rise. This is dependent on the speed when taking off, making the Redbird airborne for 20 seconds or longer. There's a central computer on the tank that supplies an LCD announcement containing additional information for the driver. Additionally, the Redbird has small burls to the tire, which can be driven out very fast, in order to increase the road grip. Also, it features a grappling hook, which is attached in the front fender over the tire.

In the film, Batman has an override program capable of controlling the Redbird from the Batmobile. He uses it in order to shut the Redbird down when Robin tries to make a life-threatening jump between buildings.

Cancelled Projects

Before the box office failure of Batman & Robin, O'Donnell's Robin was set to reappear in the fifth Batman film, tentatively titled Batman Unchained. The film was set to explore further the rift forming between Batman and Robin, abandoning Bruce toward the beginning of the film. Robin would have returned, however, in the final fight. Chris O'Donnell was set to return. [13] The film was abandoned in favour of a full reboot of the Batman Film Series.

O'Donnell also reported that he was in talks to reprise the role of Dick Grayson in a spin-off.[14]

Reception

The 1995 feature film Batman Forever, and especially its 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, both helmed by the openly gay director Joel Schumacher, have been interpreted as having homoerotic overtones.[10] Slate magazine called Schumacher's Batman films "defiantly queer", with a "sugar daddy" Batman and "rough-trade" Robin.[9]

A line spoken by Robin in Batman Forever is an homage to the television Robin's catch-phrase exclamations that started "Holy" and sometimes ended "Batman!" - for instance "Holy bargain basements, Batman!" (from the television series' first season) and "Holy flypaper, Batman!" (from the television series' second season). During the film, Robin says "Holey rusted metal, Batman!" after the duo climbs onto twisted metal girders beside some water. This catchphrase also appeared for a time in Batman comic books. According to film critics Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan, Robin's quip was an "explicit in-joke".[15]

Batman & Robin was nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards, including "Worst Screen Couple" George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell and "Worst Supporting Actor" both Chris O'Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger.[citation needed]

When comparing work on Batman Forever, Chris O'Donnell explained, "It just felt like everything got a little soft the second time. On Batman Forever, I felt like I was making a movie. The second time, I felt like I was making a kid's toy commercial."[10] O'Donnell also said that despite hanging out with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze) a lot off set and during promotion for Batman & Robin, they never worked a single day together; this was achieved with stand-ins when one of the actors was not available.[10]

Legacy

Robin appeared as a playable character in the Batman Forever video game, Batman Forever: The Arcade Game, and in the Batman & Robin video game.[citation needed]

Six Flags Great Adventure theme park re-themed their "Axis Chemical" arena, home of the Batman stunt show, to resemble "Batman Forever", and the new show featured props from the film. Six Flags Over Texas featured a one-time fireworks show to promote the movie, and replica busts of Batman, Robin, Two-Face, and the Riddler can still be found in the Justice League store in the Looney Tunes U.S.A. section.[citation needed]


References

  1. ^ Rabin, Nathan. "Marlon Wayans". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  2. ^ Nathan Rabin (February 25, 1998). "Wayans World". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  3. ^ "DiCaprio Interview". Shortlist. July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  4. ^ Judy Brennan (June 3, 1994). "Batman Battles New Bat Villains". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  5. ^ "Chris O'Donnell On Why His 'Robin' Spin-Off Never Happened". Access Hollywood. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  6. ^ "Trivia for Men in Black". at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  7. ^ a b "Coolio Was Courted to Play Scarecrow in Scrapped 'Batman & Robin' Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. February 9, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (November 11, 1997). "Schumacher trims sails". Variety. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Weldon, Glen (2016-04-04). "The Complete History of Batman and Robin's Gay Subtext". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  10. ^ a b c d e Joel Schumacher, Peter MacGregor-Scott, Chris O'Donnell, Val Kilmer, Uma Thurman, John Glover, Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 6-Batman Unbound, 2005, Warner Home Video
  11. ^ Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "The Bat-Box". Wizard. No. 72. p. 120.
  12. ^ "Batman & Robin - Gadgets - Redbird". Batmanytb.com. 2010-09-24. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  13. ^ "Batman Triumphant: Examining the sequel that never happened". 21 March 2016.
  14. ^ "Chris O'Donnell on Why His 'Robin' Spin-Off Never Happened & Passing on Men in Black | Access Online". Archived from the original on 2018-07-03.
  15. ^ Cartmell, Deborah; Whelehan, Imelda (17 June 2013). Adaptations: From Text to Screen, Screen to Text. Routledge. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-136-21959-7.
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