1939 is recognized as the dawn of superheroes. That’s over 70 years of evolution, rebranding, transformations, resurrections, events and crises. In that time every single superhero has undergone a change or two. Whether it be their demeanor, their relationships, alter egos, or their costumes, the entire pantheon of superheroes have all had to adapt with the times or the story they were a part of. A costume change can signify a plethora of things to the reader. Maybe they grew up and went on to become their own hero, much like Dick Grayson did when he created the mantle of Nightwing.
Majority of the major staple characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have all had a costume change, but they pretty much remain recognizable to their audience. Batman always looks like a bat, though he might have a few new creases to the suit or his bat emblem will be different in some manner. Superman is always wearing the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, along with his family crest displayed across his chest. Robin, Batman’s longtime sidekick, has had some of the most drastic costume changes over time. Some variations have been subtle while others make him a completely different character, and we’re ranking them from worst to best.
20. ORIGINAL EARTH-2 ROBIN
Way back in the day, over on Earth-2, Robin and Batman were slightly older than their Earth-1 counterparts. And on this variation of Earth, Batman was retired, so Robin was left to pick up the slack. The outfit he decided on was a fusion of his old uniform and that of his former mentor.
It looked more like a sponsored advertisement than something criminals should fear, and was completed by a domino mask as opposed to a cowl of some sort. There was much more Batman in this outfit than Robin, and not a whole lot of intimidation. The color scheme should have been different and the designers should have spent a little more time on the logo. This costume was designed by Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene.
19. ORIGINAL DICK GRAYSON
Speaking of lack of intimidation, not wearing pants doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of career criminals. For nearly 50 years the original Robin costume by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson went unchanged. There’s no telling why this costume remained the way it was for so long. Maybe nostalgia’s grip is stronger than anyone can anticipate, or maybe DC just really liked the look for Robin. Or maybe they had no better ideas at the time.
This version of the costume looks more like something Namor should have worn, minus the cape, and less like something a superhero scaling rooftops would wear. Despite it being a nod to Dick’s upbringing as a circus acrobat. Burt Ward brought this costume to life in 1966 alongside the late Adam West. While it was great to see Robin running around with Batman, it added to the camp the 1966 series was known for.
18. SECOND EARTH-2 ROBIN
At some point the Robin from Earth-1 ended up on Earth-2 and lost his outfit in the process. The Robin of Earth-2 was kind enough to let his counterpart borrow one of his spares. This was one of the alternatives to his current Batman and Robin mashup costume. It is not the most stylish of costumes, but it got the job done, and the fact that it had pants is very important for a crimefighter who leaps across buildings.
It features a stylized cape similar to Batman’s and a mask that covers more of his face than the previous eye mask. The colors are far from anything that resembles Batman, with yellow being the dominant color in the cape and pants while red only covered the top half of his body.
17. BATMAN AND ROBIN COSTUME
Can we get past the Bat-nipples? Probably not, but we’re going to try our best for the sake of our sanity. Batman Forever saw the introduction of Robin to the big screen. Portrayed by Chris O’Donnell, we received a significantly older Robin than many would have probably preferred. That’s probably why in the follow-up to Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, Chris O’Donnell was actually wearing a Nightwing uniform.
This might have been missed by many because they kept the “Nightwing” insignia a deep crimson hue, but it was definitely a Nightwing costume. It might have been more recognizable had they ditched the cape and never put him in that ridiculous black and silver version at the end of the film. We were all too distracted by the god awful idea of Bat-nipples to even care at the time.
16. TEEN TITANS ROBIN
It was difficult for a while ascertaining which Robin was the leader of the Teen Titans when the show first aired. There wasn’t a lot to go off on since the team never called Robin by his real name, which is probably a good thing when you’re trying to keep your identity a secret. Eventually there was a major clue when there was a flash-forward episode showing Robin grown up and running around as Nightwing.
His Robin costume wasn’t all that different from what we had seen from the original version, except it had pants. His boots were black instead of those green loafers were had seen him wear in the past. It was a more modern take on the old costume, which fit nicely for this cartoon.
15. CARRIE KELLEY ROBIN
1986 showed fans one of the most impactful Batman stories we would see in a long time. Frank Miller’s mini-series The Dark Knight Returns didn’t exactly see a new costume for Robin as much as it did feature a new Robin altogether. The biggest change to the costume was the green-tinted glasses in place of a domino mask, and the tunic is also a tad longer than when Dick Grayson wore it — for obvious reasons.
It’s understandable that Carrie Kelley’s costume wouldn’t be much different than Dick’s or Jason’s since she uses her lunch money to purchase the costume. Carrie does this after she was saved by Batman when he came out of retirement and decided she wants to fight by his side as his sidekick.
14. YOUNG JUSTICE ROBIN
After the first season of Young Justice Dick Grayson became Nightwing, leaving Tim Drake to fill his position on the team as the designated Robin. The designers of this Robin costume didn’t take a lot of risk when designing it. There’s nothing setting it apart from other variations. It’s not too dissimilar from Tim Drake’s usual uniform from the comics with the exception of the color black covering his legs, and it isn’t too different from Dick Grayson’s version of the outfit from season one.
It’s a more streamlined look and fits the animation of the show, but they could have done more with it. Who knows, maybe when season three premieres on the new DC-Branded digital service we’ll see a new look. Or maybe he’ll become Red Robin with Damian stepping in to take his place.
13. ORIGINAL TIM DRAKE
After Dick Grayson moved onto become Nightwing and after Jason Todd was horrifically murdered by The Joker with a crowbar, Tim Drake stepped into the role of Robin. With it he brought an entirely new look to the Boy Wonder. Pants! Robin now had pants. He also ditched the tunic in favor of a one-piece type of look.
It also came with some black accents along the back of the cape and on the boots. It might be a new Robin, but it’s recognizable as Robin and that’s really important when it comes to branding. This Neal Adams design looked to age the character and made him less campy. It really showed any doubters out there that he deserved to work by Batman’s side and was more than just a human shield or a punchline.
12. ARKHAM CITY ROBIN
This was an interesting take on the Robin costume because the developers of Batman: Arkham City included a hood, which is a common feature of Damian Wayne’s Robin. But this is not Damian behind the mask. It’s actually Tim Drake, the third Robin. This costume, unlike the ones seen in the comics, has much more armor and padding.
Especially in the gauntlets and boots, which is a good design because those are the two common appendages to use when blocking an incoming attack in close quarters combat. This Robin also has a striking resemblance to Chris O’Donnell’s Robin from Batman Forever with a shaved head. Except Chris O’Donnell was playing Dick Grayson. So this Robin is just an amalgam of all previous male versions of the Boy Wonder.
11. FIRST DAMIAN WAYNE ROBIN
Damian Wayne quickly became a fan favorite character from the moment he was introduced by Grant Morrison. His constant rivalry with Tim Drake was always kind of endearing, albeit a little threatening. Damian only ever wanted to impress his father, which is the Caped Crusader himself, and thought it was only right that he don the mantle of Robin, thus removing Tim Drake.
Damian’s first costume as Robin looks thrown together. It’s a kind of an amalgam of his life in the League of Assassins mixed with the traditional colors and motif of the long line of Robins. His hood and cape are notably out of sync with the rest of the costume, along with the addition of the color white to the outfit. It’s a fun first attempt at the very least.
10. SECOND TIM DRAKE COSTUME
No more green! Gone with the childish and contrasting green, Tim Drake’s second outfit continues to reveal the gradual evolution of Robin into a more mature and serious crimefighter. Red overtook the emerald color that used to dominate the Robin costumes, and Tim also leaned completely into the black and gold accents that really shows he is a serious contender in this multiverse of serious threats.
Despite being a leader of the Teen Titans and fighting alongside Batman, Robin was always seen as a kid that couldn’t sit at the table with the rest of the adults. In terms of Robins, Tim really showed the character growth that fans like to see in their favorite characters. And it only continues as time goes on. We haven’t seen the last of Tim.
9. STEPHANIE BROWN
During her time as Spoiler, before she was Batgirl, Stephanie Brown was brought on as Robin to make Tim, her then boyfriend, jealous. Even Batman, with all his infinite wisdom, resorts to childish mind games from time to time, just like the rest of us puny mortals. Stephanie’s costume is near identical to the one that Tim wore, except more feminine.
The tunic looks to be more of a mini skirt, which makes one think: Batman really is always prepared. Even the cushions on the gloves and the sleeves are identical. Unfortunately, as soon as Batman’s mind game worked and Tim returned to his role, Stephanie was booted. Not to fret, she would eventually return as an amazing Batgirl in an equally amazing costume of her own.
8. FIRST RED ROBIN
Continuing his evolution as a character, Tim went on to further transform himself as Robin. First glimpsed in the Mark Waid penned story Kingdom Come and designed by Alex Ross, Tim decided to take on the identity of Red Robin once Damian became the permanent Robin. The version of Red Robin from Kingdom Come, however, had Dick Grayson under the cowl.
While retaining the surname “Robin”, the costume was a drastic change from what fans were used to. This costume featured only red and black as the primary colors with only small portions of gold scattered about and a full mask that does more to conceal his identity than the tiny mask he used to don. Much in the same way that Dick Grayson grew out of being Robin, Tim Drake had finally moved on to become his own person in the DC pantheon.
7. INJUSTICE DAMIAN WAYNE
When the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us entered the home of millions, it was presumed that the Nightwing character we saw would be Dick Grayson. However, we would soon learn that it was Damian running around as Nightiwng after he killed Dick Grayson. When we do finally see Damian as Robin, his copyrighted hood follows.
His outfit also appears to be made more of a rubber material than spandex, which gives it a more protective appearance unlike what we’re accustomed to in the source material. And with the video game world being far more violent than that of the comic book world, Damian wields a sword as his primary weapon, which would make quick use of any criminals he encounters. It’s a fun take on the character and costume.
6. NEW 52 DICK GRAYSON
Unlike the original continuity that saw Dick Grayson without pants as Robin, his original costume within the New 52 continuity looks to be one entire piece of spandex. It’s a more modernized uniform — well, as modernized as one can be in spandex. Even his domino mask is stylized, and he has those cushions or pouches that are reminiscent to Tim Drake’s original outfit in the original continuity.
While it retains the color scheme from the original continuity, it also adds in black to make the character seem more mature and dark than his original incarnation. The writers definitely gave him a more grown up personality. It’s a very different “original” Robin than we grew up with. This look was even more of a change from what we were used to than his new Nightwing look.
5. JASON TODD HUSH
Jason Todd was the second Robin that came along once Dick Grayson decided to become Nightwing. He was practically a carbon copy of Dick Grayson, wearing the same costume, having the same personality and also being an orphan. It’s no wonder the powers that be decided to have Jason killed off in one of the most gruesome ways a character can go.
While he wasn’t acting as a Robin in the “Hush” storyline, he definitely wore a variation of the costume. Evident by the emblazoned “R” on the belt and chest. Sporting an all-black Robin costume definitely tells you that he’s not a good guy. Complete with Hush’s trenchcoat, this was one of the better designs for an edgier Robin — despite it not actually being Jason Todd, but a lump of clay.
4. DAMIAN WAYNE REBIRTH
Going back to its pre-”Flashpoint” continuity, Rebirth relaunched DC’s entire line of ongoing storylines and with it we received many new costume changes. One of which is Damian Wayne as Robin. Taking inspiration from his Robin uniform in the original continuity, this one looks to be be more heavy duty.
This look showed the world he’s always ready for battle with his armored boots and gauntlets that are colored an emerald green that we’re used to seeing. His tunic is considerably longer — along with a high collar — and sports the ties in the center of the tunic, much like previous incarnations of the uniform. It also retains the hood that sets Damian apart from the rest of the Robins. Too bad it’s not red, otherwise he could call himself the Red Hood.
3. NEW 52 JASON TODD
Jason Todd also received a retroactive costume change from his time as Robin. Along with various portions of his origin story being altered to fit with the New 52, which wasn’t a bad idea. It condensed his story and set him more apart from Dick Grayson. Except for the part where he never tried to steal the wheels off of the Batmobile, which is a shame.
Jason’s new original costume was definitely a step in the right direction since it wasn’t a hand-me-down from Dick. It has a real technological look to it, especially in the boots and gauntlets, which is a nice touch since they have access to Wayne Enterprises. It’s also a nice touch with his domino mask being red, unlike the black one Tim wore or the green one Dick had. It’s a kind of foreshadowing, while still touching on the primary Robin colors.
2. SECOND DAMIAN WAYNE ROBIN
When Damian Wayne was finally an official Robin, he wasn’t working with his dad like he had hoped. No, his father was allegedly dead. Instead he was Robin to Dick Grayson’s Batman, and he was fairly vocal about not liking that. Along with all the foreshadowing of him killing Dick, it felt like Damian was going to become the Batman from the 666 future sooner than expected.
His new costume kept the hood that his makeshift outfit had when he was still trying to replace Tim Drake. The rest of the uniform had a minimalist feel to it. It lacked the ties commonly seen at the center of the tunic, his belt was surprisingly plain, and the whole thing was just less cluttered than previous incarnations.
1. NEW 52 RED ROBIN
In the New 52 we never see Tim Drake running around with Batman as Robin. Besides an old photograph of him in his old Robin outfit, we only see Tim as Red Robin. This version is a much more stylized version with some practicality than he was in the original continuity. This new Red Robin has wings that allow Tim to actually fly. It’s a shame he didn’t decide to keep the cowl, but this look is a vast improvement from the last.
Maybe a cowl made it more difficult to see while he was flying. Other differences from his previous outfits is that this Red Robin looks to be more armored than usual and comes with various straps that are probably utility belts of some sort. One on each arm and a harness across his chest that probably doubles as a support system for the wings.
Which of these Robin looks is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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