The Bat-Family Deserves a Place in James Gunn’s DCU
While Batman pretends to be a loner, he can’t do it all without family.
James Gunn has a lot on his plate currently with his reboot of the DCU. With this reboot in mind, Batman canon needs a change that fits more in line with DC Comics. Batman has been one of the most influential characters in comic book history. Not only that, but he is also one of the oldest characters in existence alongside Superman, both of which have remained at the forefront of DC content. His iconic sidekick, Robin, has been included in animated and live-action series as well, but his live-action presence has pretty much been non-existent in the 21st century.
Instead of including Robin, the dynamic that has dominated recent Batman content is of him and the Joker. But, by rehashing the Batman vs. Gotham villain storyline, we are being robbed of the complexities that come with every member of the Bat-Family. Movie fans don’t even know that there have been multiple Robins over time because of this under-representation. Batman: Under the Red Hood is a storyline that has been received well by fans, and it deserves a spotlight in the DCU.
Jason Todd, the second Robin who is now Red Hood, fits the bill for the trendy antihero obsession. After dying at the hands of the Joker, he returns mysteriously with more lethal methods and a new persona. Jason Todd’s true asset is that his arc is rich with character development. His past is traumatic which leads him down a bloody path that eventually steers him toward reconciliation with the Bat-Family. This type of complexity is exactly what James Gunn is good at. We have seen it before with Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad (i.e. Peacemaker and Yondu).
Aside from Red Hood’s emergence back into the world, the potential plot points are endless with the inclusion of the Bat-Family. Dick Grayson, the original Robin who is now Nightwing, has helped train younger characters and has even taken over as Batman temporarily. This is an avenue that has not been previously explored in live-action content. In order to change things up and keep the character interesting in James Gunn’s universe, Bruce Wayne can have that back up if he is incapacitated therefore protecting his secret identity and ensuring that there is always a Batman to protect Gotham.
If Dick Grayson takes over as Batman, that could allow for the introduction of Damian Wayne as the new, and current, Robin. Damian Wayne is Bruce’s biological son with Talia al Ghul who was raised as an assassin before becoming Robin. The biggest conflict with Damian is that Bruce and Dick Grayson both have to unlearn the killer instinct that he picked up from his mother. The introduction of Talia al Ghul not only adds to this conflict, but also unlocks the Lazarus Pit as an essential plot device which, in some continuities, did bring back Jason Todd.
Introducing Talia al Ghul alone will add more depth to Batman’s character. In Batman’s cinematic presence, he has never had a biological heir and his romantic history hasn’t really been a major plot point. His relationship with Talia isn’t super romantic, but their dynamic as co-parents is a significant part of Bruce’s character.
While many popular characters have foregone relationships and children in the past, the MCU has recently been exploring Avengers as parents that will eventually usher in the Young Avengers for future content. James Gunn’s DCU can accomplish this by introducing Damian Wayne, therefore creating a path to bring in Young Justice.
The Robins alone deliver enough content for several films/TV series, but they are not the only Gotham Knights around. Barbara Gordon, Kate Kane, and Cassandra Cain have all taken on different feminine Bat personas. While Kate Kane has had a dedicated series in the CW’s Arrowverse, Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain are relatively untouched aside from an incredibly inaccurate portrayal of Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey. And while Cassandra Cain and Kate Kane have intriguing character development to explore, Barbara Gordon needs to appear in the live-action DCU.
Barbara Gordon is a major asset to the DC Universe, not just as Batgirl, but also as Oracle. As Batgirl, she is a feminist icon who can kick ass just as well as her fellow Gotham Knights, but her time as the Oracle is significant because it shows that her disability doesn’t make her any less of a hero. Batgirl almost appeared in a solo film, and its cancellation disheartened us as DC fans, but with the DCU reboot, there is still hope. After all, it is imperative to finally include Barbara Gordon as both Batgirl and Oracle so that we receive disabled representation through a feminist icon.
Overall, the exclusion of the Bat-Family in live-action content is an absolute travesty. Yes, Batman is a beloved character, but it is incredibly inaccurate to portray him as a one-man army when he has an entire family backing him. We as fans deserve a cinematic portrayal of Bat-Family members and their stories that have made DC comics so wonderful, so here’s hoping they’ll finally get their dues in the DCU.
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