Batman ’89 Can Finally Give Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight a Robin

With the world of Tim Burton’s Batman films continuing in an upcoming digital comic series, the original plans for Robin may come to life.

Last week, DC announced that it would be releasing two digital comic miniseries continuing classic cinematic adaptations of Batman and Superman. The Dark Knight, in particular, will be receiving a miniseries this July picking up from the world envisioned by filmmaker Tim Burton in 1989’s Batman and its 1992 sequel Batman Returns.

Joined by acclaimed comic book creator Joe Quinones is Sam Hamm, a comic writer and screenwriter for both of the fan-favorite films. And as the digital comic prepares to delve back into the world of the two films and continue their story, one element planned for Burton’s movies from the beginning can finally see the light of day: The introduction of Robin.

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While Chris O’Donnell’s incarnation of the Boy Wonder would eventually debut in Joel Schumacher’s 1995 film Batman Forever and return for 1997’s aptly titled Batman & Robin, this version of the character differed from what Burton and the first two films’ creative teams had planned. The earliest drafts of the original planned Batman film, predating Burton’s involvement, included Dick Grayson as playing a role in the story before the project narrowed its focus to Bruce Wayne. As production began on Batman Returns, Grayson was similarly included in early versions of the story before the character was omitted entirely from the finished film.

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Originally, a sequence was written by Hamm where a chase between Batman and the Joker leads them to a circus in Gotham City. In the midst of the pursuit, the Joker murdered John and Mary Grayson, inadvertently causing the orphaned Dick to become the crimefighter Robin just as he had created Batman by murdering Bruce’s parents in Crime Alley decades ago in the film. Young Irish actor Ricky Addison Reed was cast and the sequence was storyboarded — with a rough animatic version produced — but the scene and Robin’s inclusion was dropped before principal photography began to keep the focus on Batman and the Joker’s dual rise in Gotham.

The inclusion of Robin was revisited and expanded in early versions of Batman Returns‘ script, with the character originally reimagined as the leader of a young gang that decides to ally himself with Batman. Screenwriter Daniel Waters, who wrote later drafts of the 1992 film’s script, changed up the character to be a young mechanic working in Gotham, with the iconic “R” logo appearing on his auto shop uniform. Eventually, Grayson would work with Batman in the film, even going as far as to drive the Batmobile. Marlon Wayans was cast in the role and even attended a costume fitting during preproduction before the character was dropped from film before principal photography began to tighten its narrative focus once again.

With Hamm returning to the world he first wrote over 30 years ago, audiences can finally see a version of the Boy Wonder that was planned but never quite made it to the big screen. While details on this new take on the classic character are still under wraps, there is a strong chance that it may be the version of the character originally planned to be depicted by Wayans for Batman Returns. And with Hamm and Quinones given the opportunity to resolve many of the plot threads left dangling by both the series’ first two films, audiences are looking for a faithful continuation of the cinematic classics’ story.

Written by Sam Hamm and illustrated by Joe Quinones, Batman ’89 goes on sale digitally on July 27, with print issues planned to launch in August before being collected in a hardcover edition in October.

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