Did Superman Kill Robin?

Is Robin doomed in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? Did Superman kill him? Theories started ramping up when a photo, reportedly from the set of Batman v Superman, surfaced on the internet depicting a gravestone that bears the name “Richard Grayson.”  The photo appeared on Comicbook.com, but has since been removed by request. Those familiar with the Batman mythos will know that Richard Grayson, the first of Batman’s sidekicks to go under the Robin name, is alive and well in the comic books.  After giving up the Robin identity, Grayson went on to become the hero known as Nightwing. The Robin that died in “A Death in the Family,” published by DC in the late 1980s, was Jason Todd. Why then would Richard Grayson’s name appear on the gravestone? And how would the original Robin’s death, if accurate, tie into the Batman v Superman storyline?

The trailer released by Warner Bros. for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a decidedly grim tone.  We get a dark and gritty glimpse into the new DC cinematic universe, Where Superman is eerily worshiped, and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman is morose, even for the Dark Knight.  The trailer concludes with a confrontation between Batman and Superman.  The voiceover questions, “Do you bleed?” and promises “you will,” as a storm rages.  This leads to the obvious speculation: what has led to such vitriol, such obvious pain?  More importantly, how would film makers have the audience share that pain, feel it, internalize it?

Batman, of course, is driven by the pain of losing his parents.  But that won’t move the audience. We’ve seen Batman’s parents die many times in a variety of media: comic books, graphic novels, television, and film.  We’ve been there.  We’ve done it.  Even young new fans have experienced it in the hit show Gotham.  How will they sell this grim version of the DC universe?  Quite simply, they could take something from us, let us experience real loss.  This is where the Robin theory begins to make sense.  Robin is iconic and beloved, especially the Dick Grayson iteration.  There are numerous Dick Grayson fan sites like the Grayson-Army on Tumblr.  So although Jason Todd is the Robin that was murdered in the comic books, Todd’s death would lack the impact that would be created with Grayson’s demise.  He was the original.  That would, for fans of the Bat-family and comic book enthusiasts in general, hurt.  Where would the justice in that be?

OK, it would hurt.  So what?  How would it connect to Superman?  Could it be, or at least is it possible, that the events that took place in 2013’s Man of Steel directly led to the death of the original Robin?  Considering the destruction caused during Superman’s battle with General Zod, casualties, even mass casualties, are not only plausible, but likely.  Within the devastation caused by Superman’s epic battle, Metropolis certainly could have used heroes.  As in any disaster, heroes emerge, showing the best of mankind, even in the darkest of hours.  Could one of these heroes have been Richard Grayson?  Could Nightwing have fallen heroically in Metropolis that day?  And if he did, could Batman be denied his pound of Kryptonian flesh?  Sure it is farfetched, but what would you do as a filmmaker to grab the attention and sympathy of the audience?  Kill another Wayne parent?  We will have to wait until 2016 to find out for sure.

Jeff Mongold

Jeff Mongold

Jeff Mongold is a graduate of Ashland University's MFA in Creative Nonfiction program. He currently works at Hiram College in Northeast Ohio. Jeff has been published in The Broken Plate, Kept Mistakes, and Elephant Journal.