It didn't take long after the release of Batman Returns for fans to discover that Tim Burton had wildly different plans for the future of the Batman franchise than what eventually happened when Falling Down director Joel Schumacher took it over. Among those changes were a version of Two-Face rooted in Billy Dee Williams's glad-handing Harvey Dent from the first film, and appearances by characters like Robin and Barbara Gordon. Those ideas and designs will be revisited in the planned Batman '89 comic book from Sam Hamm and Joe Quinones -- and preview pages released earlier today gave fans their first look at the Burtonverse's take on Robin.
Word is, the character might have been played by Marlon Wayans in Batman Returns, which also would have involved Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, so it seems as though some of the content ultimately shelved for a more streamlined version of the narrative is showing up in this official tie-in comic. Whether any of this will be relevant to the Michael Keaton Batman's appearance in The Flash next year is anybody's guess.
Concrete proof of those long-rumored changes to Batman Returns emerged a few years ago, in the form of an image sketched by comics artist Bart Sears. Sears had come on board the Batman Returns licensing juggernaut early enough in the process that Robin and Two-Face had not yet been removed when he started working on an art toy called Trace Plates.
You can see his sketch below.
Throwback Thursday! Remember that Batman Returns project... this was before they told me the Boy Wonder wasn't in the movie. pic.twitter.com/ccOMpBE3y8— Bart Sears (@BartSears) September 14, 2017
With the comic now just weeks from hitting the stands, fans are getting a much more detailed look at the Burtonverse take on Robin, in the form of Batman '89 #1. There are a number of variant covers, two of which feature some iteration of Robin.
You can see those images below.
This version of Robin features some elements familiar to comics fans, including the staff that Tim Drake would popularize and the hood worn by Damian Wayne. The comparison to Tim Drake is apt, since Drake's darker costume was created by Neal Adams in direct reaction to the Burton films.
He also features a baggier costume (likely to accommodate armor), a utility belt that resembles Batman's own, and an inversion on the traditional domino mask, wherein he is not wearing a mask over his eyes, but instead over the lower portion of his face. While it's likely this was intended to evoke imagery of Eastern ninja (think Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from G.I. Joe), these days, that's just how we dress to go to the grocery store.
The official description for Batman '89 reads "Continuing the twisted adventures of DC’s Dark Knight from Tim Burton's seminal classic Batman movies, Batman ’89 brings in screenwriter Sam Hamm (Batman, Batman Returns) and artist Joe Quinones (Dial H for Hero) to pull on a number of threads left dangling by the prolific director. The gothic mentality behind the world, while still rooted in a sense of realism, helped inform many of DC’s global fans’ first impressions on the Dark Knight's Gotham. In the new Batman ’89 comic, Hamm and Quinones will help usher in the return of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and will debut a new Robin! Plus, Quinones has a vision for Harvey Dent/Two-Face that is as close to movie magic as a comic can get!"