Some fans will likely never get over the fact that we are not going to get a “Snyder Cut” from an early assembly of footage for 2017’s Justice League. Nevertheless, director Zack Snyder still is happy to occasionally give the most devoted fans a glimpse into his original vision for what we call the DC Extended Universe… and how much darker it was than we even imagined, dead Robins and all.
For those who do not remember, one of the most evocative images in the DC film that Snyder had the largest amount of creative control over, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is that of a dead, adult Robin’s armor smeared in graffiti that could only be from the Joker. Bathed in garish “HAHAHAHAs,” the unsubtle implication is that the Joker killed one of Bruce Wayne’s sidekicks and surrogate sons, a Robin, and desecrated the remains. And because Ben Affleck’s Batman is especially pouty-faced angry, he keeps the vandalized costume as a reminder to be even more outraged that there’s a Superman flying around.
This has its origins in the comics, as the second canonical Robin, Jason Todd, was indeed killed by the Joker, much to the horror of Bruce, as well as his eldest “son” and fan favorite Robin, Dick Grayson. Grayson went on to become Nightwing as well as eventually the Batman himself during prolonged absences on Bruce’s part. But apparently in the DC Extended Universe, at least during the Batman v Superman days, Dick Grayson’s only inheritance was an early grave.
When a fan asked Zack Snyder on Vero (via ComicBook Debate) if it was indeed Jason Todd who died, Snyder responded, “Richard.” As in Dick Grayson, the first Robin and the beloved Boy Wonder. Further Snyder revealed that he always intended for Grayson to stay dead, whether time travel did or didn’t play a role in his original vision for a two-part Justice League saga (which was teased in BvS before being abandoned). However, he did say the original plan might have been to bring Dick back after Snyder’s Robin of choice was introduced: Carrie Kelley. “Stay dead… till Carrie,” Snyder wrote.
Carrie Kelley, a wonderful character in her own right, is unsurprisingly a Robin that would appeal to Zack Snyder. In addition to being the only female Robin, and a striking departure from the other protégés Bruce has recruited from time to time, Carrie Kelley was introduced in Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns, an initially standalone tale about a much grimmer Batman that was a huge influence on Batman v Superman (as well as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises). Additionally, she did eventually face off against Dick Grayson in Miller’s belated and far less well-received sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. In that more recent book, a zombified Dick Grayson rises from the dead to try and kill his replacement.
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… So, um… yeah? The DCEU originally was intended to have Dick Grayson long dead and buried before introducing Carrie Kelley… and then maybe have her attacked by Grayson’s resurrected corpse.
Ah, the road not taken. Sigh.