Let me get right to it…
If the powers-that-be at Warner Bros. were planning a new series of Batman movies (which I assume they are), and they asked my advice (yeah, right!) about including Robin, I would recommend leaving Batman/Bruce solo for the first trilogy. Not that I don’t like Robin. I do. (Well, some of them.) But, Robin wasn’t there at the beginning, and we Batman fans need to see our hero evolving and doing his thing on his own for awhile. (That was one positive thing about the Nolan/Bale trilogy.) Then, I’d like to see a trilogy, filmed in quick succession, with Dick Grayson as a teenaged Robin, followed by a trilogy with Dick as Nightwing and introducing a new Robin, preferably Tim Drake. The next question is, of course, who would play these guys?
This is a tough one, especially since I don’t watch many shows/movies with kids this age. But, I think it’s just as important to cast Robin right as it is to cast Batman right. The trick would be to find an actor who is sufficiently talented and a physical match (and willing to train enough to be believable as a gymnast), yet young enough — early- to mid-teens — to grow with the part. Speaking of growing, have you noticed that the male Robins in the comics tend to be on the short side — at least until they adopt a new identity, and suddenly they’ve grown several inches? So, it would be preferable to get a young actor who is also on the short side — say, not much over 5′ — and hope for the best.
Robin I / Dick Grayson
Some have suggested Asa Butterfield (recently seen in Ender’s Game (2013)) to play Robin. He’s talented enough. But, at 16 years old, he’s at the outside of the right age range. Plus, he grew several inches while shooting that movie and is now too tall (5’10”). (He might be a possibility for Nightwing in a couple years, though.) At the other end of the age range is Jared Gilmore from “Once Upon a Time” (Henry Mills), who is 4’11” and 13 years old, at this writing. But, he would have to be a much better actor to convince me in the role of either Dick or Tim. He just doesn’t seem a good fit, to me. Too “sweet”.
Chandler Riggs (5’4″,b.1999), whom we all know as Carl Grimes on “The Walking Dead”, seems like a possibility for playing Dick Grayson. We know he can play a serious and troubled kid, which could work well for a grieving/brooding (and initially rebellious?) young Dick. Trouble is, I haven’t scene Riggs play anything else. I would assume he can also play lighthearted, even happy, which is Dick’s normal persona. (He looks happy enough in this photo. 🙂 )
Robin II / Jason Todd
I was never a big fan of Jason Todd, so I have no particular desire to see him in the movies, but someone might, so I’ll give it a shot. The character of Jason always had a harder edge to him than Dick or Tim. He was essentially a savvy street kid with plenty of attitude. I suppose Chandler Riggs above might be a good candidate, but I wanted to find someone else to throw into the mix.
Bryce Cass (5’3″,b.1997) was in several episodes of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” and a few movies, including Battle: Los Angeles (2011). His dark, spikey hair would go great with Jason’s attitude. Other than the fact that I’ve never actually seen/heard him act — at least, I can’t remember him in B:LA –, the main drawback is that Cass is already 16. So, he may not be short for long (hah! that was kinda punny!), plus his voice has probably already changed.
Robin III / Tim Drake
The first young actor I thought of to play Tim was Maxim Knight (5’3″,b.1999) from “Falling Skies” (Matt Mason), though he would have to straighten out that curly mop. He is one of the most experienced actors I’ve seen in this age group, has really matured since the first couple seasons, and I think he would be up for the job. He’s got the smarts and the likability factor, too, and is exactly the right age and height. Bonus: He already co-starred with Alex O’Loughlin, one of my choices for Batman, in the short-lived “Three Rivers”. (Not surprisingly, Knight is into fantasy fiction and gaming. And, with that last name, we’ve gotta give him a shot at this franchise!)
On the other hand, Tim Drake’s hair looks kinda spikey sometimes, and I can definitely see Bryce Cass in this role, too.
Possible alternates for one or more of the Robins are: 1) Garrett Ryan (5’2.5″,b.1999), who has had several roles beginning 2006; 2) Josh Feldman (5’3″,b.1999), who was in Santa Paws 2 and bit parts here & there; 3) Christopher Bones (4’11”,b.1998), who was in one episode each of “One Life to Live” and “My Name Is Earl”. Unfortunately, unless they start filming now, all of these guys will soon be too old (and probably too tall) for the role.
Some of you may be wondering why I don’t try to cast Stephanie Brown (Robin IV) or Damian Wayne (Robin V). Honestly, I left off reading the Bat-titles when Stephanie was still calling herself Spoiler and Damian wasn’t in the picture, yet. I may do them later, but I’ve got enough Robins (and other iconic characters) to deal with, right now, thanks.
Let me know what you think of my choices above. L8r….
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.