Holy spoiler alert, Batman fans! Could it be true? Will Boy Wonder grace the silver screen in Christopher Nolan‘s conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises? While it seems unlikely that Nolan will allow the teenage sidekick, clad in medieval Robin Hood inspired acrobatic wear to sully the intensity and seriousness of his dark universe, evidence is mounting that a Robin-inspired character is, in fact, part of his master plan.
Rumors have been incessantly circulating around the internet concerning this great debate, so I’d like to present to you the evidence that I have culled together which has me leaning toward the belief that some Robin thread will be woven into Nolan’s dark tapestry. Let’s begin with Robin’s origin:
- He was born (on the first day of Spring) Richard John “Dick” Grayson
- Mom gave him the nickname “Robin” for a number of reasons, ie. birth date, flying work on the trapeze
- As a child Robin was an acrobat in an act called The Flying Graysons with his family in the Haley Circus
- His parents were killed in a fire in the circus at the hand of Tony Zucco, a mob boss
- Robin was an orphan
- Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson on as a ward
- He became Batman’s sidekick after he learned Brice’s secret while they were both investigating his parent’s murder
These bullets of point are from the origin of Robin that we know (read more on the Dick Grayson Batman Wiki Page). I think to expect this formula from Christopher Nolan would be foolish, however, Nolan can not stray so far from the identifying features of Robin that he turns out to be completely unrecognizable. I think that would be unforgivable. So, for a moment, examine that list again and think about the characteristics you deem as true definers of Robin, at his core. As you are doing that, I’d like to present some other Robin facts from Robin’s comic book legacy that I believe are relevant to this conversation of speculation:
- At 17, Robin was shot by The Joker
- After being Batman’s sidekick, Robin became a solo crime-fighting act known as Nightwing
- Dick Grayson has taken on the Batman mantle after the death of Bruce Wayne
Obviously, I’m only scratching the surface of Robin’s lore, but, let’s pull up the evidence surrounding The Dark Knight Rises so far and see if I can get you to walk this spoilery tightrope with me.
John Blake is Begging To Step Up
Since the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Robin fanatics have been foaming at the mouth, hoping beyond hope that when the details were settled, his name would be linked to an acrobatic “Dick Grayson.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Gordon-Levitt is cast as John Blake, a young sergeant in the Gotham Police Department. It would appear, on first sight, that Blake is not our man. That is, of course, if you delve no further.
A number of fans did not give up on their Boy Wonder, being spurred on by the continual portrayal of Gordon-Levitt in nearly every trailer released to date. John Blake must be more than he seems with that kind of screen time, right? I think so. Take a look at this picture from ComicBookMovie.com that gives a brief description of Blake as well as Batman’s assessment of him:
I think every fan who reads this must catch their breath when they first learn that John Blake is an orphan! Add to that fact that he is “committing himself to the ideal of justice,” and “he has become an asset to the city” and you almost expect to see him swinging from a trapeze.
The Chalk Bat
In The Dark Knight Rises trailer, a chalk bat is sketched on asphalt. While we don’t see who drew the bat in the trailer, Mark Hughes, a contributor to Forbes.com, believes it is John Blake. Whether it it actually John Blake who etched the mark or not, the close analysis of the bat offered up by Hughes is something to consider…
Here is the chalk bat:
Here is Nightwing’s emblem:
Whether John Blake sketched these chalk bats or not, one would be hard pressed to shake my belief in that sketch being a bird. I mean, with that small white mark at the top, it even has a beak! Coincidence? I’m thinking, no.
Nolan’s Comments About Blake
Earlier this week MovieLine.com did an examination of the 50 page production notes of The Dark Knight Rises. As part of their examination they shared some excerpts about the characters, including John Blake. While the whole thing is worth a read, I felt the comments from Nolan were worth sharing here:
Nolan comments, “Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne have become somewhat jaded, so we wanted to contrast that with a younger, more idealistic individual who, in a way, represents where they’ve come from. Joe really captured the strength and courage of a man who refuses to back down, regardless of the odds.”
This idea that Blake “represents where they’ve come from” definitely sounds to me like a character being groomed to take up the mantle from a jaded mentor. While one can argue that the mentor would be Commissioner Gordon, I think that’s exactly the red herring Nolan wants us to chase.
The Joker’s Origin Seals The Deal?
In reviewing The Dark Knight Manual, William Wharton of moviepilot.com stumbled upon a piece of evidence that ties this all up nicely. Although Christopher Nolan never gave us a clear idea of the Joker’s origin in the films, this companion book to the trilogy sheds light on a piece of his past that is sure to excite Boy Wonder’s fan club:
The Joker does not appear to have any connections to Gotham’s crime syndicates, though he knocked over a mob bank. One possible motive for this, which could also explain the clown motif, is the Haley Brothers Circus. The circus was recently in town for a two-month engagement and it was rumored their boss had connections to Sal Maroni. The Joker could be a former Haley Brothers employee with some kind of grudge against the mob
Can’t you just see Christopher Nolan building a new origin story based on these facts? Wharton’s enthusiasm for his find is palpable in his post, as he continues to put the pieces together:
Yes. The Haley Brothers Circus was in town just before the Dark Knight began? And the The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years later? That’s about enough time for a 18 year old Dick Grayson to grow up into a 26 year old Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
It’s definitely probable…
My Bonus Track
Perhaps this one will snap my tightrope and send me hurdling for the nets below, but I have a bonus track to offer up for consideration:The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack.
|1. A Storm Is Coming|
|2. On Thin Ice|
|3. Gotham’s Reckoning|
|4. Mind If I Cut In?|
|5. Underground Army|
|6. Born In Darkness|
|7. The Fire Rises|
|8. Nothing Out There|
|10. Fear Will Find You|
|11. Why Do We Fall?|
|12. Death By Exile|
|13. Imagine The Fire|
|14. Necessary Evil|
I am struck by tracks seven and thirteen both mentioning fire. If I want to approach this as if I already believe Dick Grayson is a part of this story, then the mention of fire is quite compelling. Dick Grayson is motivated, like Brice Wayne, largely due to the untimely and cruel death of his parents. In Grayson’s case, they died in a fire. Will he, as an adult, be reminded of his loss around the time of track #7 when The Fire Rises? And will he then have to Imagine the Fire after a Death By Exile needs him to remember that someone needs to continue to fight the good fight?
I know. I’m assuming Dick Grayson’s in the story already, but, give me a break, I’m having fun with this!
What’s Your Verdict?
Dismissing my complete leap of logic with The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack, what do you think of the rest? We’ve seen evidence that John Blake is an orphan, that the mob-laiden Haley Circus was in town just before the trilogy began, we’ve read that Christopher Nolan pegs John Blake as the “idealistic individual” Batman once was, and we’ve looked at a possible trailer Easter egg in the form of the chalk bat. Is this enough for you? If so, what are your conjectures, will John Blake assume a role as Robin, Nightwing or take on the mantle of Batman himself?