Did Christopher Nolan Ever Say Robin Wouldn’t be in the Bat Franchise? Looks Like No, He Didn’t

I guess I need to keep a more watchful eye on my RSS feeds for stories to lift from other sources as I completely missed Deadline‘s February 1 report that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in talks to reunite with Inception director Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises. I clicked around the net to see if anyone else missed the story and obviously none of them did as The Dark Knight stories are a big deal on the search engine optimization circuit. Many of them even took to predicting just who exactly Levitt could be playing.

The Wrap mentions characters including the Riddler, Dr. Hugo Strange and Robin. *Record Scratch*

What? Robin you say? But didn’t Christian Bale say, “If Robin crops up in one of the new Batman films, I’ll be chaining myself up somewhere and refusing to go to work.” Before you put too much stock in that alleged statement from 2008, that frequently quoted Bale reply comes via the World Entertainment News Network (WENN), a highly unreliable rumor source. Not to mention it’s a ridiculous quote in the first place as Film School Rejects contributor Cole Abaius says on Twitter, “Because Bale could really boycott doing the movie because a character he doesn’t like is added.”

Putting the quote aside for a second and trying to figure out this Robin conundrum, a couple of days ago Robin’s name cropped up again as WILX.com in Lansing, Michigan reported the following:

According to Eaton County and Grand Ledge officials who didn’t want to be identified due to confidentiality agreements, production crews from The Dark Knight Rises scouted locations in Grand Ledge’s Fitzgerald Park last week.

They looked at the Ledges as well as a water treatment plant located inside the park. Sources say the area is being considered as a hideout for Batman sidekick Robin.

Could this be true?

Scott Davis of the Lansing State Journal did a bit of investigating as the news of Robin’s hideout spread across the net like wildfire and asked Jon Bayless, Grand Ledge city manager, about the scout and Bayless said, “It’ll be Robin’s office.” Davis then adds his own bit of “reporting” writing, “Christopher Nolan, the director of the movies, has insisted that he will never direct a Batman movie with Robin as a character.” Uh, he did?

Searching for “Robin”, “Christopher Nolan”, “Never Direct Batman” and other various search queries on Google returns speculation and nonsense, no actual quotes. I couldn’t find a quote anywhere where Nolan said Robin would never be a part of the franchise. I only found people saying he said that.

Next I took to Twitter and asked my followers if they had any links to quotes and was finally directed to Batman On Film where they have a couple of quotes addressing all of these recent rumors.

“Dick Grayson’s still in a crib somewhere. I seriously doubt I will even be involved when Robin’s in the franchise.” – Christopher Nolan

“[Including Robin in Nolan’s Batman film] would be tricky.” – David Goyer

I’ll address the second quote first.

Setting aside the fact Goyer isn’t saying Robin will never appear, I can’t find a single instance on the Internet where David Goyer actually said including Robin would be “tricky”. I did find a quote from Nolan at Esquire saying, “The Penguin would be tricky,” but nothing about Robin.

Now, for that first quote attributed to Christopher Nolan. It comes from a 2005 post at SuperheroHype quoting a reader named “trev” who told the site Nolan talked to his local paper, “The Lacenby News” about possible Batman Begins sequels.

As if those facts weren’t enough to discount the story, what is “The Lacenby News”? I sure don’t know and a search on Google returns nothing. Even searching for just “Lacenby” on Google and Wikipedia returns nothing other than the suggestion I may actually be looking for George Lazenby, the car salesman-turned-actor that played James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Even Google Maps can’t find a single place in the world called Lacenby (which actually amazed me). Finally, the quote above isn’t even the full alleged quote.

For starters, I have no idea if this is a real quote (and I have every reason to doubt it is legit), but the full quote reads, “This is a young Batman, so Robin’s a few films….not for a few pictures anyway. Dick Grayson’s still in a crib somewhere. I seriously doubt I will even be involved when Robin’s in the franchise.” I’ve read that quote a few times now, I didn’t see the word “never”. In fact, it sounds like Robin will likely show up at some point based on what I’m reading.

Now, I’m not saying there may not be another quote out there, but based on what I can find (and it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack out there) Nolan has never said Robin would not appear in one of his films. Six years ago he might have said (to a seemingly fictional non-existent news outlet) Robin’s appearance was unclear and maybe not for a few films. But even that quote sounds more promising than the “Nolan said Robin would never show up” comments I see in pretty much every article and comment thread on the Internet.

So, has Joseph Gordon-Levitt been cast as Dick Grayson (aka Robin) in The Dark Knight Rises? We obviously don’t know, but if so it sounds like it may be similar to the Joker card ending Nolan included in Batman Begins. Nolan recently spoke with Film.com and when asked whether he ever intended to make sequels to Batman Begins he replied, “Not immediately. We saw Batman Begins as a stand-alone film. The Joker card was just an exciting way to say it could carry on. But as the film came out, I just became fascinated by seeing that character in this world.”

Wouldn’t adding a small bit with Dick Grayson at the end of The Dark Knight Rises be a perfect way for Nolan to end his franchise? After all, he’s already said this will be his last Batman film and even told Film.com’s Cole Haddon why he felt he had to return for a third one, “[It] was about finishing the story. For me, it’s all about endings. How does it end? I think with Bruce Wayne’s story, that’s what’s interesting.”

Robin has been a sore spot for many Bat-fans, much of that disgust coming as a result of Chris O’Donnell’s portrayal of the character in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, also known as “The Nipple Years.” As far as I see it, perhaps Nolan has figured out a way to make sure nobody can touch his Bat-franchise without introducing Robin in the fourth film, a task not many directors would want to take on. Not only would a new director have to try and live up to the three films Nolan created, but they would also have to work Robin into the storyline.

I’m just spit-balling here, but all the “Nolan and Bale said Robin would never be in the film” comments are unfounded and attributed to sketchy quotes at best. I see no reason why Joseph Gordon-Levitt couldn’t play Grayson in a small cameo appearance, it would simply add to the mystique.

The Dark Knight Rises is slated to hit theaters on July 20, 2012 with Christian Bale returning along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. Tom Hardy will play the film’s lead villain Bane and Anne Hathaway, as already stated, will play Selina Kyle. Shooting is expected to take place in London and Los Angeles in May.

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