The first full trailer for 2016's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice proved to be more surprising than many fans were expecting. Our first look at the onscreen pairing of the World's Finest rewards repeated viewing (see our complete list of Easter Eggs) and confirms that beyond introducing our new Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck), BvS will expand and justify the themes of Man of Steel.
This next major entry in Warner Bros. and DC's shared cinematic universe completed filming back in December, and since then we've had our first official look at Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, which caps nearly a year of leaked set photos. Now, in the wake of a trailer which sets the tone for Dawn of Justice firmly in the "dark and gritty" camp, a new bleak, death-related batch of set photos might just give away a major plot point.
[WARNING! Potential Batman V Superman SPOILERS to follow!]
Months ago, a batch of Batman V Superman set photos leaked which seemed to confirm a flashback scene in a cemetery featuring the Wayne family mausoleum, which according to certain traditions of the comic book continuity, rests upon the grounds of Wayne Manor.
Now, a new set of set pictures have surfaced on imgur.com, courtesy of a user known as jbingles. The images appear to have originated from the same Wayne mausoleum set we've seen before - with a geographic label of Lake Orion, Michigan, a township some 40 miles north of Detroit, which was one of Batman V Superman's major shooting locations.
The difference here is a particular tombstone, which bears the name of a major character from Batman lore. Check out the photos below, and click through to #18 to see the tombstone in question:
Aside from the artfully composed shots of the Wayne Manor mausoleum and a decaying piano, the main reveal here is the gravestone of one Richard John Grayson - A.K.A. the first Robin, A.K.A. Nightwing - who lived from what seems to be January 1972 to August of 2000.
With Ben Affleck's Batman having reportedly been operating for close to 20 years by the time Batman V Superman opens, a major plot rumor suggested that at least one Robin had already met his demise - but in the rumor, this sadly departed sidekick was Jason Todd and not Dick Grayson, who had evidently moved on to his own superhero identity Nightwing. Grayson had been rumored to be played by Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), who adamantly denied his involvement. (Rumors later indicated he was being sought for Luthor.)
Take all of this with plenty of salt, but could Grayson - not Jason Todd - be the Robin who has died by the time we catch up with Batman in Dawn of Justice? The sudden reveal of this batch of photos is a little suspicious - it may have geo-tagged a specific location, but this look at the Wayne family's final resting place first surfaced more than six months ago.
Was this photographer simply sitting on these pictures to avoid any kind of backlash from the film's producers and/or lawyers? Did they stumble upon this set still standing long after shooting had completed? (Not likely for a production like this).
One new detail beyond the Richard Grayson tombstone might lend some credence to this location's authenticity: the inclusion of a grave for Alan Wayne, one of Bruce Wayne's ancestors who - according to at least one version of DC Comics continuity - had married a woman named Catherine Van Derm, a name appearing on the tombstone in the set photo.
The most recent Robin report suggested that a major Suicide Squad plot thread found Harley Quinn and the Joker estranged following the death of Jason Todd (presumably at the Joker's hands, just as in the famous 'A Death in the Family' comic book storyline), but what if the scoopers had received bad information?
What if the Robins had been swapped out - could Dick Grayson have been killed by the Joker and Jason Todd given up the role in disgust? This might lend a little more credibility to the rumors of Jena Malone playing the Carrie Kelly version of Robin, as well as the possibility that Jason Todd's villainous alter ego the Red Hood might show up in the DCU down the line.
There's also the notion that DC might ignore all of this and embrace the New 52 'Grayson' series, which finds the title character believed dead and infiltrating a spy agency as a secret agent, with Bruce Wayne's blessing and support. This seems like a longshot, but it would be one way to set up Grayson as an eventual Batman (he dons the mantle after Bruce Wayne leaves Gotham for a time), giving Ben Affleck a way to exit the role if fans embrace the move. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.
Batmav V Superman: Dawn of Justice will open in theaters on March 25th, 2016.