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.
Wayans was reportedly paid $100,000 for the role of the Boy Wonder. However, with an alreadystacked cast that also included Christopher Walken as the vile entrepreneur Max Shreck, the decision was made to remove Robin from the film. An action figure of Robin went into production for the Batman Returns toy line that, with a new head sculpt, hit the shelves to the befuddlement of fans everywhere. Despite both the actor and character being absent, Wayans has stated in interviews that he received his payment and ontinues to receive residuals from the film’s release.
Robin eventually joined the Batman franchise with the release of the 1995 Joel Schumacher-helmed Batman Forever where he was played by Chris O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s Robin once again graced the silver screen in 1999’s Batman and Robin. Despite Robin’s eventual inclusion, fans continuously wondered about Wayans’ Robin.
That is, until now! DC Comics’ latest limited series will be written by Sam Hamm, who penned the original screenplay for the 1989 Batman, and drawn by Joe Quinones, who recently took to Twitter to showcase amazing Robin art for the fourth issue of the series as well as announce this specific Robin’s name: Drake Winston. Hamm’s original name for Wayans’ Robin was Richard Drake, a presumed amalgamation of Richard Grayson and Tim Drake, before Drake Winston’s name was officially announced.
Batman ‘89 #4 goes on sale this November. Considering we’ve waited over 30 years for Robin to join the Burtonverse Batman series, I’m thrilled to say, “I don’t mind the wait.
Danny DeVito Returns
1992’s Batman Returns introduced the world to the grotesque Penguin played by the talented and affable Danny DeVito. His portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot is one of the reasons I consider Batman Returns my favorite Batman movie. In honor of the 80th anniversary of the Penguin, who debuted in 1941’s Detective Comics #58, the foul-feathered fiend will take center stage in November’s Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant #1. Among the star-studded cast of contributing writers is the legendary actor Danny DeVito! DC artist Dan Mora revealed on Twitter that he and DeVito are working on a short story for the November issue. Between the Batman ‘89 limited series and a Danny DeVito-penned Penguin story, it looks like Batmania is ready to sweep the world once again!