Robin (Dick Grayson) is one of the most fascinating comic book characters of all time, regardless of his numerous incarnations and flamboyant imitators. But the Boy Wonder almost always took a backseat to his partner and larger-than-life mentor, the Batman (Bruce Wayne).
But Grayson grew up into an older version of Robin during the Bronze Age of comics. Brash, cocky, and always ready to degrade his opponent with his iconic sense of humor, Dick became a formidable hero in his own right. And he finally stepped out of his mentor’s shadow in 1984.
Once Grayson took on the guise of Nightwing, a chain reaction was set in motion. It was a bold move allowing Dick the opportunity to become his own man, and hero, which led to a revolution for the character of Robin. And here are the 15 Most WTF Versions Of Robin.
15. The Red Hood (Jason Todd)
Jason Todd was dead, murdered by the Joker. But it’s hard to keep a good man down, especially in the DC Universe. Yes, the Clown Prince of Crime killed the second Robin during A Death in the Family (1988-1989), but a new more aggressive anti-hero version of the Boy Wonder was on the horizon – a hooded figure who wasn’t afraid to kill.
Superboy-Prime altered reality, while in the paradise dimension, and inadvertently brought Jason back to life. Todd woke in his coffin and collapsed shortly after escaping the tomb. Later, with the help of Talia al Ghul, and a dip in the Lazarus Pit, Jason’s health and memories were restored. But he sought retribution. And Jason just couldn’t fathom how the Batman could have let the Joker live after what he had done.
In Batman #638 (2005), nearly two decades after Jason’s death, a mysterious figure named the Red Hood captured the Joker and proceeded to beat him mercilessly with a crowbar. As the Clown Prince lost consciousness, marred in a pool of his own blood, the Red Hood removed his mask. Jason was back and ready to leave his mark on the DC Universe.
14. Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
Since his first appearance in Detective Comics #38 (1940), Dick Grayson loyally served as the Batman’s sidekick Robin for almost 45 years. Grayson grew up in 1984 and donned his classic Nightwing costume in Tales of the Teen Titans #44. But following the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), the DC characters were all in for a major facelift.
The executives at DC decided to modify the relationships and origins of many of their characters. In the Post-Crisis story “Did Robin Die Tonight?” (1987) everything changed. Robin (Grayson) was shot by the Joker during a rooftop battle with the Dynamic Duo. Batman felt that Grayson was too reckless, so he fired his partner. Bruce encouraged his adopted son to follow his own path, and Dick soon became Nightwing again in the Post-Crisis reality.
Thanks to his training, an exceptional skill set, and a keen mind, Nightwing emerged as one of DC’s most popular superheroes. This adult version of Robin remains one of the most endearing members of the Bat Family to this day. Nightwing’s abilities are almost derivative of the Dark Knight’s strengths, but Grayson’s optimistic outlook on life differentiates him from his mentor – the Batman.
13. Clark Wayne (Earth 3839)
During 1999’s Superman & Batman: Generations #3, fans were introduced to the grandson of the Man of Steel – Clark Wayne. The boy was born to Kal-El’s son, Joel Perry Kent. Interestingly enough, Clark Wayne nor his father Joel had superpowers. Exposure to Gold Kryptonite during the prenatal phase ensured that neither could tap into their Kryptonian powers.
Once his grandfather and Bruce Wayne Jr. discovered him, Clark was adopted as a member of the Wayne family. Bruce Wayne Jr. trained Clark and he eventually became his partner, Robin of Earth 3839.
Later, Clark Wayne took up the identity of the Knight-Wing. He also met Bruce Wayne Sr. Eventually, Clark found a vial of liquid from the Ultra-Humanite’s metallic fortress. The formula endowed Clark Wayne with superpowers much like his grandfather, but on a limited scale.
12. Bruce Wayne (Earth-One)
Bruce Wayne of Earth-One first appeared in Superman #76 (1952) and he was the son of Dr. Thomas Wayne. Bruce of Earth-One was inspired by both a costume of his father, which resembled a bat, and by a mysterious crime fighter named the Shadow.
After his parents were murdered by Joe Chill, Bruce was sent to live with his uncle – Phillip Wayne. Ironically, Phillip had to travel a lot so Bruce befriended the housekeeper Mrs. Chilton who turned out to be Joe Chill’s mother.
During his teenage years, Bruce wanted to be a force for good. He even tracked down the city’s most well-known detective, Harvey Harris. Bruce’s early crime-fighting costume was a bright red, yellow, and green outfit that hid his identity. Harris thought Bruce’s colorful costume resembled a bird’s redbreast. So, Harris gave Bruce Wayne his new alias – Robin.
11. Tim Drake
Tim Drake was just a little boy who took a picture with the Flying Graysons and later, as a teenager, deduced the secret identities of the Batman, Nightwing and Robin. Like the rest of the world, Tim noticed a significant difference in the Dark Knight’s behavior after the death of Jason Todd.
Drake sought out the original Robin (Dick Grayson) in order to help Bruce Wayne. Tim told Dick that the Batman needed Robin, but Grayson had no intention of becoming the Boy Wonder again. However, after the Batman and Nightwing were ambushed by Two-Face, Tim took it upon himself to wear Jason’s old uniform. Robin showed up with Alfred Pennyworth to aid Wayne and Grayson. Drake showed both courage and skill, as his actions helped save the original Dynamic Duo.
Exactly one year had passed since Batman #428 (1988) hit the stands with the bad news that Jason Todd was dead, and Batman was letting another child don the Robin costume and endanger his life by fighting crime.
10. Carrie Kelley
31 years ago, Carrie Kelley became the first female Robin. Frank Miller’s four-issue graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns (1986) painted a bleak portrait of Gotham City in the future. An aging Batman came out of retirement to battle not only Two-Face aka Harvey Dent, but the Joker and Superman, too.
Kelley was saved by Wayne the first night he returned to action as the Batman. Inspired by her savior, she spent her lunch money on a Robin costume. This new Girl Wonder utilized a slingshot armed with firecrackers as her weaponry of choice.
After the climactic battle between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, which seemingly took Bruce Wayne’s life, Carrie stood near her mentor’s grave. As Clark Kent walked away, he heard a heartbeat emanating from the casket. Fearful Bruce’s plans to fake his death had been discovered, she trembled before the mighty Superman. But Clark simply smiled and shot the new Robin a friendly wink.
9. Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown took the DC Universe by storm. Brown became an integral part of the Bat Family, but it took a bit of time before the second Girl Wonder came under the Batman’s tutelage. Stephanie had endured everything from being the daughter of the Cluemaster, to having an unplanned pregnancy and then giving the child up for adoption.
Stephanie developed a very close relationship with Tim Drake over the years, but she came to believe Tim was being unfaithful to her. She decided to give up on Drake and focus on the future. She created a homemade Robin costume and approached Bruce Wayne to train her. Bruce grudgingly accepted her and she became a hot-headed new Robin.
Stephanie disobeyed Batman’s orders and Bruce fired her as a result. She was tortured and later seemed to die, but her injuries only appeared life-threatening. Her claim to fame is having been both Batgirl and Robin.
8. Red Robin
The Red Robin was DC’s newest departure from the sidekick version of the Boy Wonder, and allowed the character to stand on his own independent of the Batman. While this new hybrid of Robin and the Dark Knight had been most notably identified with Tim Drake, a number of heroes wore the guise.
Red Robin first appeared in Kingdom Come #2 (1996), which was part of DC’s Elseworlds. It was an intriguing story about the exploits of an aging Dick Grayson. Dick decided to take up the mantle of Robin once more to help Superman’s league. Grayson’s new version of the hero was a Red Robin, whose costume more closely resembled the Dark Knight’s attire.
Tim Drake made the Red Robin a household name, though. When Grayson finally became the Batman, he chose Damian Wayne to be his partner Robin. Dick made the decision, because he truly felt that he and Drake were equals. Tim became the Red Robin during that time, and began a search for his old mentor, Bruce Wayne. Even Jason Todd eventually donned the costume during the Countdown to Final Crisis (2007-2008) storyline.
7. Damian Wayne
Welcome to the family, young Master Wayne. Damian al Ghul’s origin actually dated back 30 years to the 1987 story Batman: Son of the Demon. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that Bruce Wayne’s son Damian made his debut in Batman #655 (2006).
The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, Damian was one of the most skilled and dangerous versions of the Boy Wonder ever. Bruce had his work cut out for him when his son’s existence was finally revealed to him, as Damian was bloodthirsty and calculating. But can you blame him? The kid was trained by the League of Assassins to be a killer.
He was by far the youngest pupil to become Robin, at the age of only 10 years old. In Batman #657 (2006), Damian tried to take the mantle of the Boy Wonder by force from Tim Drake. He pushed Drake off a ledge and left him defeated in a pile of bloody glass. Later, Damian confronted his father while cloaked in the Robin costume. Damian lied to his father and said Drake quit voluntarily. It was a less than auspicious beginning for the newest member of the Bat Family.
6. Teen Titans Go!
Teen Titans Go! (2013 – present) is one of those guilty pleasures, and acquired tastes, for fans of the DC Universe. The animated series/spin-off was a more comedic take on the Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans (2003-2006) and the DC Nation Shorts (2011-2014), featuring the New Teen Titans.
In Teen Titans Go!, Richard “Dick” Grayson (Scott Menville) was an obsessive, paranoid perfectionist. After going out on his own, as a defender of Jump City, Robin met fellow superheroes Cyborg (Khary Payton), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Raven (Tara Strong) and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes). Together, the kids formed the new superhero squad – The Teen Titans.
This animated version of the Boy Wonder is by far one of the funniest adaptations of Robin. The show itself is aimed at younger audiences, but occasionally adults can find a bit of wit and whimsy for themselves. Sure, it’s not exactly binge or DVR worthy, but it’s a great diversion for those adults with clamoring kids. And 177 episodes later, the show is still going strong.
5. Burt Ward
Holy freaking icon, Batman! Burt Ward is without question the most identifiable personality, and a pop culture icon, when it comes to Robin the Boy Wonder. Ward brought a class and a whole lotta camp to his version of Dick Grayson on the small screen. Robin fought alongside his Dark Knight who was portrayed by the late Adam West in the television series Batman (1966-1968).
Ward’s Robin was very much like the Grayson in the comic books, but he didn’t quite have the smart aleck personality. Ward did, however, become somewhat of a wordsmith when it came to spouting dialogue laced with Holy this and Holy that!
On June 9, 2017, Ward’s colleague and friend Adam West passed away. “Adam and I used to have the best time together,” Ward said. “For me, I’ve spent seventy-five percent of my life on this planet working with this man. And I loved him dearly.”
4. Michael Cera
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) brought the most hilarious version of Robin the Boy Wonder to the Silver Screen, courtesy of actor Michael Cera. In the comic books, tragedy united Batman and Robin when Grayson’s parents were killed, and Bruce Wayne took the boy into his life.
In LEGO Batman, the comedy gods had a lot more fun with the situation. Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) had a seemingly innocent conversation with young Grayson, as the stunning Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) caught the attention of the playboy billionaire at a gala.
Entranced by Miss Gordon, and completely unaware of Grayson’s continued line of questioning, Wayne agreed to adopt the youngster. And since Bruce was so used to doing everything himself, that version of the Dark Knight found life overly complicated by his new kid/partner. Naturally, Grayson became Batman’s sidekick Robin, but the playful and comedic take on that Boy Wonder made Cera one of the best WTF versions of Robin ever.
3. John Blake
Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) saved the struggling Batman film franchise. Batman & Robin (1997) was an utter disaster that almost destroyed the Caped Crusaders, but Nolan’s graphic-novel approach to his own unique trilogy ignited a new level of interest in the characters.
In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Nolan jumped the shark when he introduced an orphaned police officer by the name of John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). At the end of the movie, when the Batman was believed to be dead, Blake’s “true” identity was revealed.
Blake attended the reading of Wayne’s will, which made no sense seeing as how they knew each other for all of two seconds. When he told the woman administrator his name, she said there was nothing for him. But then he insisted that she try searching under his legal name: Robin John Blake.
Depending on your love of the comics, and your affection for the character of Dick Grayson, this new version of Robin was either a brilliant maneuver by Nolan or one of the most bone-headed blunders in cinema history.
2. Chris O’Donnell
When Joel Schumacher took the helm on Batman Forever (1995), audiences finally got to see Robin on the big screen.
Actor Chris O’Donnell brought a strength and vulnerability to an older, teenage version of Grayson. Dick was taken in by Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) after Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) murdered his parents. This film adaptation of Robin had a wonderful mixture of the comic book Boy Wonders: Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake.
O’Donnell’s Robin possessed Grayson’s wise-cracking attitude, Todd’s rebellious streak and Drake’s updated costume. However, his legacy was pretty much derailed by the disastrous Batman & Robin, where the campiness of the film corrupted the character into an unrecognizable, WTF mess. We wish we could forget that bonkers “rubber lips” scene he shared with Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, but it’s just not possible.
1. Jason Todd
Jason Todd started off as a blond carbon copy of Dick Grayson in 1983. He was also a circus performer, but his parents were murdered by Killer Croc. Bruce Wayne took Todd into his home, and trained him to be his new partner.
Dick Grayson kindly passed on his costume and legacy to Jason, and a new Batman and Robin took to the streets of Gotham. But with the Post-Crisis landscape, a new origin was instituted for Jason Todd. This Jason was a hot-headed, ill-tempered teenager living off the streets, and he even stole the wheels right off the Batmobile.
Even when Bruce took Jason into his life, the boy’s attitude continued to clash with Wayne’s views. A new Robin was born, but he was soon suspected of killing Felipe Garzonas – a diplomat’s son. Fans clearly had enough of the brat Boy Wonder, as they used the now infamous 900 number gimmick to kill off Jason in A Death in the Family (1988-1989).
Jason’s shocking, memorable death earns him first place in the WTF hall of fame.
Which version of Batman‘s sidekick do you think is the strangest? Let us know in the comments!
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