Batman and Robin; the two of them together are synonymous with teamwork. In the history of comic books, there hasn’t been a superhero pair more recognized and beloved than the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder. Without one there could not exist the other. While Batman manages on his own, the character shines when his spunky sidekick, serving as a ray of sunshine to the gloom Batman emanates, accompanies him. Batman is not meant to be a happy hero. He’s a psychologically damaged man who forged his childhood trauma into a weapon of virtually unparalleled might. He’s fought gods and monsters, protected his city and the world, and turned his body into a perfect fighting machine.
Referred to also as the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman’s honed his mind every much as his physique; there are few obstacles he cannot solve or find the answer to. Despite this, Batman’s continually struggled with the notion of friendship and trust. He’s not one to let people in, but every Robin that’s entered his life, has done just that. Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian have all served dutifully at Batman’s side, proving they’re his equals in more ways than one. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 things Robin can do Batman can’t.
15 BE EMOTIONALLY STABLE
No matter how you phrase it, Batman isn’t a stable individual. He’s a man who dresses as a bat in order to avenge his parents and fulfill a wish he made as a child. Bruce Wayne never recovered from the traumatic ordeal of violently losing his mother and father and ever since has been defined by that singular moment. Everything he does is to serve their memory and prevent the atrocity from happening again. His drive is so obsessive that he can hardly lead a normal life, much less be emotionally stable.
His Robins, don’t share such problems. Many Robins have endured various tragedies in their lives. Unlike their mentor however, they’ve been able to move on and not be defined by their pain. Only Jason Todd seemingly became too unstable, but even he eventually pulled back from the brink.
14 DEFEAT DEATHSTROKE
The mercenary Deathstroke is one of DC Comics’ most ruthless villains. With a super solder serum running through his body, he’s taken on the Justice League by himself, slugged it out with Superman, and yes, he’s even beaten Batman repeatedly. That’s right, the Dark Knight himself been defeated multiple times by Deathstroke. Without help, Batman hasn’t beaten the mercenary before. Robin, on the other hand, has.
First you have Dick Grayson, the first Robin. As leader of the Teen Titans, he and his team were constantly at odds with Deathstroke. At the end of the day, Dick always led his team to victory. In the animated movie Batman vs. Robin, Damian Wayne, Batman’s son and the youngest Robin, completely wrecks Deathstroke alone, a feat Batman has never accomplished.
13 CREATE BETTER TECHNOLOGY
No matter which particular Robin you choose to favor, they are all geniuses in their own right. Out of every Robin, Tim Drake stands out when it comes to applying his intelligence to creating incredible technology. Batman might have brains and have come up with the Batcomputer and Brother Eye, but one of those tried to take over the world and kill every superhuman on the planet.
Tim on the other hand, especially in recent issues of Detective Comics, is on another level. He’s created the Belfry to serve as a headquarters for other heroes. Tim also developed the Mud Room; uses a molecular bonding agent from Clayface's body that can be turned into any person or enemy by a computer in order to create combat simulations. Additionally, Tim outfitted the Belfry with holding cells, and installed its immune system, letting the building automatically repair damages.
12 BE A BETTER FIGHTER
Without question, few heroes or villains on the planet have what it takes to challenge Batman in a straight up one-on-one, hand-to-hand fight. That said, Bruce Wayne has trained a fair number of young fighters and while he’s the best, for now at least, we’ve seen future iterations of these characters. When looking at future timelines or alternate realities, somebody takes over. Be it, Dick, Tim, or Damian, they each bring something different to the Batman mantle.
In the case especially with Tim and Damian, they both end up being better fighters than Bruce ever was. In recent Batman Beyond comics, an older Bruce watches his grown up son Damian fight Terry McGinnis. Throughout it all, Bruce admits Damian is better than he ever was. In the case of Tim, though his future self is evil, he’s also a better fighter, having trained far more extensively than his teacher.
11 HAVE FRIENDS
Dick Grayson and Tim Drake are among the friendliest Robins. Damian Wayne and Jason Todd are jerks until you get through their crusty exterior. Batman is a paranoid grouch who enjoys brooding and coming up with systematic ways to take down his teammates on the Justice League. Robin is the light to Batman’s dark. That being the case, his personality is also lighter; he generally doesn’t have any reason to be moody.
The friendlier Robins are beloved heroes in their communities and by superheroes all around. Even when they take a night off, they have friends who they can go and hang out with. Batman does not. He has Alfred, but the butler kind of has to stay with Bruce. Robins, as a whole, are more sociable creatures than everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader.
10 LEAD THE TEEN TITANS
On his best day, Batman leading the Justice League is questionable. Half the time it feels like his fellow superheroes barely trust him, what with always finding out some secret plan or another he’s developed to eliminate them should they go rogue. Batman isn’t particularly big on trust, it has to do with the rampant paranoia that fuels him; trusting him in turn isn’t easy. Batman’s even been kicked off the Justice League for abusing his teammates’ trust.
Robin leads the Teen Titans. Now obviously Batman can’t lead the team since he’s not a teen, but Robin led his friends into combat quite successfully. Every team, including the Teen Titans, has kinks to be worked out. After such time however, the Teen Titans became a family, loving one another unconditionally. The Robins that led the teams had a big role in that.
9 REALIZE HE'S IMPERFECT
Bruce Wayne is never one to make mistakes, or at least he doesn’t admit when he does make one. Batman has too much pride and knows he’s among the best at what he does. Many people love him because of that arrogance, but in real life, nobody likes an arrogant know-it-all. Showing humility, and by association, humanity, is a positive character trait. It’s also one Bruce doesn’t have.
Robin does. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, and Damian Wayne have all made disastrous errors in judgment. Yet they learn from their mistakes, becoming better in discovering their imperfections. They know their actions and behavior affects other people. Even though a couple Robins like Jason and Damian aren’t always swell guys, they still find value in realizing it’s okay to be imperfect and that putting up airs only drives people away.
8 OUTSMARTED AND DEFEATED LADY SHIVA TWICE
Lady Shiva is considered Earth’s deadliest assassin. Not only has she beaten Batman, but she trained the Dark Knight himself, along with Tim Drake. While Batman struggles against her Tim has taken her down multiple times, by himself, leaving her completely astonished in the process.
In Robin #51 and #183, Tim Drake completely destroys Lady Shiva. The first time, Robin realizes he’s faster, she never lays a hand on him, and he nearly kills her! The second, time, he was trying to fulfill the role of Batman since he was missing and presumed dead. Shiva calls him out, challenging him, and Robin accepts. When they meet, Robin defeats her. Before leaving, he explains how he slipped a heart-rate activated paralytic poison into one of the chocolates in her hotel room, knowing she couldn’t resist.
7 DEFEAT HIS FUTURE SELF
Comic books are chock full of otherwise bizarre and weird scenarios that otherwise normal people never have to deal with. One prime example is encountering past and future versions of yourself through either time travel or rips in the fabric of reality. On several occasions both Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake have faced future versions of themselves. In the New 52, Batman came across his future self thanks to the trickster god Kimyo. This being comics, the two fought and the younger Batman was beaten in short order.
In Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans, Robin and the Teen Titans encounter their future selves, who are evil. The future Tim Drake has decades worth more of experience and technology on his side, but Robin is still able to defeat his malevolent self. In recent Detective Comics issues, the future Tim returned, defeated Batman but Tim held his own yet again.
6 RUN A COMPANY SUCCESSFULLY
Bruce Wayne is supposed to run Wayne Enterprises. We say, “supposed to”, because he usually delegates the task to others like Lucius Fox. Bruce takes little interest in running his own company despite all the good he could do without donning a cape a cowl, honoring his parent’s legacy in a saner manner. If Bruce does decide to play an active role then it’s only to further aid his mission as Batman as seen in the series Batman Incorporated.
Robin has more of a hands on approach. Is it an embarrassment or a point of pride to known that Damian, Bruce’s pre-pubescent son, is better at running his company than he is? Even Tim Drake took a seat at the throne and did a great job too.
5 BE SUPERIOR AT ACROBATICS
Batman is a master combatant. Arguably one of the best hand-to-hand fighters of any age, his keen wits and intelligence play a key role in allowing him to fight crime. While the Dark Knight is an exceptional fighter, Robin, most notably Dick Grayson, is a superior acrobat. Batman can certainly flip and somersault with the best of them, but Dick’s natural ability, including the training he received in the circus as a child, far exceeds anything Bruce is capable of when it comes to agility.
It might not sound like a terribly impressive trait, but greater agility means you’re going to be taking a lot less punches. Ducking, weaving, and leaping over your opponents, all the while with a massive grin spread across your face, is Dick’s trademarked style of fighting. Even Batman has admitted his protégé’s superiority in acrobatics, admiring Dick’s fluidity in combat.
4 HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
Batman isn’t known for a disarming sense of humor. Quite the opposite, as most people know him for the infamous scowl. Batman isn’t a people person and it shows through his humorless personality. That’s what makes a Robin so important to his life. Robin adds cheerfulness to Batman’s otherwise murky existence.
Dick Grayson, the first Robin, is also the one with a notable sense of humor. You could often find him in the middle of a fight wisecracking and pretending to be a goof. It helps to distract the bad guys, but it’s also an important aspect of his character. Dick is usually able to see the optimistic side of situations and not get bogged down with feeling morose. When he graduated from Robin to Nightwing, Dick found himself; his sense of humor and charming personality shone through more than ever before.
3 BE A TEAM PLAYER
Batman’s moodiness is off-putting for many people. Additionally, he’s not keen on asking for help, which puts him on the outs with a lot of his allies. He doesn’t always understand the value of seeking assistance, but Robin does. Dick Grayson in particular has never been shy in working with others to get things done. It showed both when he was Robin and when he was Batman for a time. He utilized the relationships he’d forged over the years with people like Commissioner Gordon, Oracle, etc. to be the most efficient Batman he could be.
Tim Drake, while he occasionally tries to model himself off Bruce, won’t allow himself to push people away. If and when he does, like after his father died and following the death of Superboy, he’s still able to regain his senses and see his friends and family are there for him.
2 HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF CRIME FIGHTING
Batman is driven, unhealthily so, by his war on crime. He’ll never stop fighting. Bruce Wayne hardly exists, acting more as a mask that allows him to navigate through relationships and situations, until he can don his dark cowl and dish out unrepentant justice. Despite the efforts of Alfred to try and show Brice a life outside of fighting crime, Batman will always be Batman. It’s a trap of his making Bruce cannot escape.
Robin is not bound to sealing himself away in a cave. Instead, different Robins have taken opportunities to move away from Bruce and live a nine to five life. Dick went to college and got a job as a policeman, Tim continued going to school, and Damian hangs out with Bat-Cow and his best friend Jonathan Kent, Superman’s son. Batman lives vicariously through his family; pleased they’ve carved some semblance of a normal life for themselves.
1 DATE AN ALIEN
Batman’s dated plenty of women in his day, but most of those relationships ended in disaster. It happens when the person you’re dating was secretly masterminding a plan to kill you the entire time. Even so, out of all those relationships, Batman has never dated an alien. Yes, he did hook up with the New God Bekka, but that was only because she was the God of Love and no one can help but succumb to desire for her. It doesn’t count.
When Dick Grayson was Robin and later Nightwing he would quickly come to date his fellow Teen Titan Starfire. A former princess from the world Tamaran, Koriand’r, or Kory, would have a long, complicated, and passionate relationship with Dick. Despite it all, and even if they eventually went their separate ways, the two would always house feelings for the other.