Among the big announcements from James Gunn about the future of the DCU was news of a new Batman in a film called The Brave and the Bold. This movie would have our first big-screen Robin in 25 years. But that Robin won’t be Dick Grayson, but Damian Wayne, Bruce’s biological son. Gunn described Damian as “a little son of a bitch.” This might confuse some out there who remember Robin as just a fun kid in a colorful costume. But before we get into the history of the fifth Robin, we’ve got a brief history of his four predecessors.
A Brief History of the Robins
Robin has been synonymous with Batman since 1940. The original Robin, Dick Grayson, became a household name thanks to the Batman ’66 TV show. He filled the sidekick role for 44 years. Until DC finally allowed him to grow up and become Nightwing in 1984. His successor as Robin, Jason Todd, had a far more brief career. Fans disliked him, and actually voted to have him killed in 1988. But only a year later, Batman had another new Robin, in the form of teenage genius Timothy Drake. That Robin proved popular with fans, and remained as the main one for 15 years. For a brief time, his girlfriend Stephanie Brown was Robin too. This brings us to Robin #5, the only Boy Wonder who is Batman’s biological son.
Son of the Demon: The Early Origins of Damian Wayne
Although he did not officially appear until 2006, Damian Wayne’s origins actually go back further. They began in the 1987 graphic novel, Batman: Son of the Demon. In that story, Batman and Talia al Ghul, the daughter of his enemy Ras al Ghul, finally became an official couple. She got pregnant, and Bruce Wayne vowed to quit his Batman career and raise the child. But realizing that the world needed a Batman, Talia fakes a miscarriage and asked Bruce to leave.
The epilogue of that story showed that nine months later, Talia gave birth to a baby boy, who she gave up for adoption. The child was never seen or heard from again in any Batman title. Eventually, one of DC’s multiversal crossovers, Zero Hour, erased this whole story from continuity. Although a few Elseworlds stories and alternate futures would feature different characters as grown-up versions of Bruce and Talia’s child. None were named Damian, and remained out-of-continuity characters.
Batman and Son: Damian Wayne Enters Mainstream DC Continuity
In 2006, writer Grant Morrison began an epic run on Batman, starting with the story “Batman and Son.” In this story, Talia reappeared and revealed to the Dark Knight that their tryst a decade prior had resulted in her becoming pregnant. Whether or not that tryst was consensual remains the subject of much debate, as the implication was that Talia drugged Batman. That child was Damian Wayne, trained by Talia and her father’s League of Assassins to be the ultimate warrior. By the age of ten, he was one of the world’s deadliest killers, and worthy of inheriting the al Ghul legacy. But she wanted him to know his father, so she left Damian in the care of Bruce Wayne.
Damian was rude, entitled, and ready to kill an enemy at the drop of a hat. He believed his intense training since he was a toddler meant he was the superior Robin. He beat the snot out of the then-current Robin, Tim Drake, and essentially took on the Robin mantle without his father’s permission. Bruce agreed to train him, and guide him away from becoming a horrible little murder brat. But not long after that, DC Comics’ God of Evil, Darkseid, killed Batman (spoilers: not really). During the time the world believed Batman dead, Dick Grayson became the new Caped Crusader. He took on Damian as his Robin, and the two formed a special bond, despite Damian’s initial dislike for his father’s original partner.
The New Dynamic Duo
Damian and Dick made for an interesting Batman and Robin. After all, Dick was essentially Damian’s older brother. And unlike Bruce, he was a Batman who understood what it was like to be a Robin. Even when Dick returned to his Nightwing role, their time together as partners forged a bond between them. When Bruce returned from the grave, he and Damian officially became a father/son Dynamic Duo.
But Bruce always kept a watchful eye on Damian, fearing he might give in to his original training and kill one of his enemies. Batman and the whole Bat-family did everything they could to curb Damian’s natural tendencies toward killing. Not to mention his propensity to just be a selfish little brat. He even talked back to Alfred. Under their watch, Damian truly became a better person, and ultimately rejected the ways of his mother and grandfather, choosing his father’s path in life.
Damian Wayne’s Death and Rebirth
Batman and Robin became a real team, both as superheroes and as father and son. It’s during this time that fate took Damian away from Bruce. Realizing that her son had chosen her father’s ways over her own, Talia created a clone of Damian’s who was force-grown into an adult. The clone, named Heretic, does battle with Damian, and he killed the younger version. A broken Bruce Wayne buried his son, but before long, his mother and grandfather stole the body, hoping to resurrect him in one of Ra’s’ Lazarus Pits.
Although Bruce stopped then from bringing his son back, during this time he was given the choice to use the Chaos Shard, a crystal that once belonged to Darkseid. Fueled by the power of the Omega Sanction, it allowed Bruce Wayne to make a terrible “Sophie’s Choice” — to bring back his parents, whose death caused him a lifetime of pain, or bring back his son. He realized he loved his son more than he missed his parents, and Damian Wayne returned, restored. (He also had superpowers for a time, but they faded).
Making Friends His Own Age
Realizing that Damian needs friends close to his own age, Nightwing suggested he join the Teen Titans. Despite being younger than his teammates, he quickly became team leader. While his partnership with the Titans was always fraught with tension, he found a true friend in Jonathan Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The kind-hearted Jon saw past Damian’s rough exterior. Much like their respective fathers, they saw past their night and day differences and became best friends, known as “the Super Sons.”
Recently, Damian, now a teenager, split from his father and went off on his own again, making Tim Drake Batman’s partner once more. But it won’t be long, in our humble opinion, before Damian Wayne is back at his father’s side. We are pretty sure that this is one Dynamic Duo that is in for the long haul. Especially once he makes his cinematic debut.