Batmania swept the nation in the summer of 1989. Prince’s Batman theme was on every station, Topps’ Batman trading cards were on the shelves of every candy store, and Batman shirts were on the backs of just about everyone! The Tim Burton-directed Batman was grim, gritty, and full of the brooding characters we’ve come to expect from a Burtonverse film. One character that didn’t make the final cut of the 1989 movie was Robin. However, over thirty years later, Robin is finally joining the fight or Gotham City alongside Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusader in the limited series, Batman ‘89.
Keaton’s casting as the titular hero outraged many when the news firstbroke over 30 years ago. Fans were livid that Batman’s fabled cape and cowl would be adorned atop the head and shoulders of “Mr. Mom.” Although, the actor’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego alongside Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Billy Dee Williams’ Harvey Dent silenced all the critics. The movie’s star-studded cast also includes legendary actor Jack Palance as crime boss Carl Grissom.
One character from decades of Batman mythology who didn’t appear on screen was the other half of the Dynamic Duo: Robin. Burton toyed with the idea of including Dick Grayson in the movie but ultimately decided against it. Storyboards, presented as an animatic recorded for a DVD extra and voiced by Batman: the Animated Series actors Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy returning to voice Joker and Batman, detailing how Robin would have debuted in the 1989 film were released on Hamill’s Twitter account. The animatic shows the Joker killing Dick Grayson’s family and the rise of Robin seeking revenge on the Clown Prince of Crime.
In spite of Robin’s omission, Batman was an international hit. It came as no surprise when a sequel was greenlit. Batman Returns, released three years later, doubled down on the dastardly villains with Danny DeVito as the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Once again, there were plans to include Robin in the movie. With so many talented actors and eccentric characters in the film, hard cuts had to be made to the cast and story. Marlon Wayans, slated to portray Dick Grayson, was one of those cuts.