Was Robin Almost In Tim Burton’s Batman?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Robin was originally going to appear in Tim Burton’s original Batman film.

Tim Burton’s classic Batman film was famous for just HOW many different iterations the script went through before they settled on the final film. All sorts of things were in play in the original story, including even the death of Vicki Vale (which I detailed in an old Movie Legends Revealed here).

The main issue behind the changes was a problem so common that there’s even an adage about it – “too many cooks in the kitchen.” There were so many competing interests over the Batman film that Burton was getting it from all angles, from the producer, Jon Peters, to Warner Bros. corporate to probably every third security guard in the Warners lot. Everyone had an opinion.

One particularly common opinion was that Batman HAD to have a Robin in the movie.

Neither Burton nor screenwriter Sam Hamm were all that interested in having Robin in the film (Burton because he felt it didn’t fit the mood of the film and Hamm because it just didn’t really do the script any good to have to spend all the time introducing a whole other character on top of introducing Batman, Bruce Wayne and the Joker.

However, Warner Bros were keen on the whole merchandising angle on having Robin in the film, so Hamm worked up an angle for Robin’s inclusion and Burton went as far as to have the scene storyboarded AND have an actor essentially cast, a young Irish actor named Ricky Addison Reed, who had just appeared in another Warner Brothers film, A Return to Salem’s Lot

The idea was that during a scene where Batman is chasing after the Joker, the Joker barrels into a performance by the Flying Graysons and accidentally kills both Dick Grayson’s parents. The scene would have been more a matter of setting up Robin for a future appearance rather than actually having him become Batman’s sidekick.

As a special feature on one of the Batman DVDs, they animated the storyboards and had Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil act out Batman and Joker’s lines…

You can see some dialogue and more storyboards at 1989batman.com here.

So, as it turns out, we came VERY close to actually having Robin appear in the first Tim Burton Batman film! Ultimately, the scene was just too superfluous, so it was cut. Burton considered Robin again for Batman Returns and again when he was determining to do Batman III, but it never happened for Burton (the featured image is a concept drawing for Robin for the third Batman film by Bob Ringwood).

The legend is…


Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero films.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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