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Superhero Origins: Robin

VO: Dan
Richard “Dick” Grayson was once a child acrobat, the youngest of a daring family performance group called the “Flying Graysons.” However, this came to an end when a mob boss named Zucco caused his parents to plummet to their deaths. Orphaned and alone, resident billionaire Bruce Wayne took responsibility for the nine year old, while simultaneously investigating the crime as Batman. However, one night while he was investigating the crime scene, Dick had snuck out to do the same. Running into each other, Batman instantly saw much of himself in the child and revealed his true identity. Seeing much potential in the boy, he trained him to become his sidekick. Join WatchMojo.com as we will explore the origins of Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Robin.
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Superhero Origins: Robin

This boy wonder is not only the acrobatic partner of The Dark Knight, but also one of the greatest sidekicks to ever appear in a comic book. Welcome to Watchmojo.com, and today we will explore the origins of Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Robin.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1940’s “Detective Comics” #38, and was expanded upon in The New Teen Titans #1 and Nightwing #1.

Richard “Dick” Grayson was once a child acrobat, the youngest of a daring family performance group called the “Flying Graysons”, who were renowned for forgoing the use of a safety net.

However, this came to an end when a mob boss named Zucco caused his parents to plummet to their deaths before his very eyes. The mobster had ordered his men to sabotage their equipment with acid, all in a bid to extort money from the circus.

Orphaned and alone, resident billionaire Bruce Wayne took responsibility for the nine year old, while simultaneously investigating the crime as Batman. However, one night while he was investigating the crime scene, Dick had snuck out to do the same. Running into each other, Batman instantly saw much of himself in the child and revealed his true identity.

Seeing much potential for Dick to deliver equally hard justice, he trained the boy to become his sidekick by teaching him all of his own fighting and detective skills. Joining Batman in his own costumed identity, Dick became Robin, The Boy Wonder. Wielding countless tools and weapons, he soon fought crime with the use of his Bo staff, explosive Bolas, cuffs and trusty communication device.

Of course, Robin was primarily introduced to the series in order to attract younger readers. Incredibly, this move worked, instantly doubling sales of Batman related stories. Interestingly, the Robin identity was modeled after not only the red-breasted American Robin, but another iconic hero from classic literature. This was none other than Robin Hood, complete with his medieval look and colors, as the character was a childhood favorite of artist Jerry Robinson.

While these original adventures were dark and violent throughout the 40s, Dick Grayson’s appearances, and relationship with Bruce Wayne soon took on a much softer and campier tone in the 50s. As a result, rumors of homosexuality began to dominate much of their adventures. An example of which is the fact that the duo have been known to share a bed before running off to fight crime (Editor’s note: Batman #84, 1954).

Following several decades playing second fiddle, The Boy Wonder soon founded and led a group of fellow superhero sidekicks under the banner of The Teen Titans. Spurred by an argument, he eventually left Wayne Manor to adopt the solo persona of Nightwing. This identity paid tribute to a bird species and ancient crime fighter of Krypton, Superman’s home planet. In the process, he also ditched his old red and green color scheme that made him a clear target for so many years.

Of course, the popularity of Robin spurred DC comics to introduce several replacements, though none has achieved the same fame or recognition as Dick Grayson.

A longtime staple of the Batman comics and cartoon shows, Robin has also been portrayed in live-action. The earliest of which were by Douglas Croft in 1943’s serial “Batman”, and John Duncan in 1949’s “Batman and Robin.” However, his most famous portrayal was by Burt Ward, who starred opposite Adam West in the 60s television series and its movie.

Decades later, Robin was reintroduced to a new generation of moviegoers in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever”, and 1997’s “Batman & Robin.” However, Chris O’Donnell failed to recapture the appeal and spirit of his shorts-wearing predecessor, and the character has been shunned in favor of focusing solely on the struggles of The Dark Knight.

Robin is a teenage superhero who has undergone several changes throughout his long career in the superhero business. Despite his attempts to move onto solo crime fighting, he will forever be associated as Batman’s closest companion and ally.
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