The Robin Scene That Never Made It into 1989's Batman: A Behind-the-Scenes Look
When Michael Keaton took the titular role in 1989's Batman, it was the first time the character had appeared in film in over 20 years.
Sam Hamm, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie, had an abundance of source material to work with. Additionally, he was keen to include one of the franchise's most prominent characters, hero sidekick Robin.
Unfortunately, Robin's role in the film would later be cut as the production began to go significantly over its budget. Yet the original draft shows what could have become for the Dark Knight and his crime-fighting accomplice. And it's a lot darker than you would ever expect.
In a released early draft of the film, Hamm had originally intended Robin's origin to be similar to that of the comics. Dick Grayson would become an orphan after his parents, trapeze circus performers, die during a stunt accident. Leaving Bruce Wayne to adopt him as his own and make him his superhero partner.
However, Hamm's first script instead made Dick's tragedy much darker. As well as depicting the origin of Robin in the film, the movie intended to show his parent's accident in full. Which would have been caused by a dramatic chase of Batman violently pursuing the Joker through Gotham City.
During the pursuit, the Joker would have caused a stunt by 'The Flying Graysons' across two helicopters to go wrong. Leading Dick's father John to fall to his death and his mother Mary swinging into some power lines.
If the scene described wasn't graphic enough, their son Dick is written as witnessing the whole thing.
After being taken hostage by the Joker, Batman saves Dick from another grizzly end, taking him back to Wayne Manor. Why Hamm felt Robin's origin as a fellow vigilante needed such a striking representation is uncertain. He certainly pushed for the character to be left in the film, however, the scenes never got their chance to come to life on screen.
After being cut from the first film, Robin was meant to be included in its sequel Batman: Returns. However, it again was pushed into the third film Batman: Forever. Instead of including much of Mann's original plot for the character, the film alternatively sees Dick's family killed by Two-Face. As well as a much different sequence to the quite explicit narrative that was originally intended. Robin was featured once again in the final movie of the series Batman and Robin. Audiences wouldn't see the sidekick on film again until a hint of the character in Christopher Nolan 's The Dark Knight Rises.
Michael Keaton is due to reprise his version of the caped crusader in the upcoming film The Flash (due 2023). Maybe future Batman projects will get to see more of Robin and his origins closer to Hamm's creative vision for the character.