On Monday, the new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises hit the internet. But despite the optimistic title, the stills and footage released so far, combined with the tag line “The Legend Ends,” hint at the possibility that Bruce Wayne might be in for some real trouble in his battle with Bane. After all, in the comics, Bane ends up crippling Bruce Wayne, forcing him to step aside and find a replacement.
While a franchise reboot is more likely than a non-Bruce Wayne Batman, I could see Christopher Nolan having the stones to try. But would Warner Brothers follow through and present us a Batman film featuring a lead other than Bruce Wayne? Not likely, but we like to dream, so here are eleven contenders for the bat-cowl from over 70 years of Batman history. Some are realistic, some are not, but all have played the part of Batman at one time or another.
Who better to replace Batman than his original sidekick, the very first Robin? Dick Grayson has been groomed for the role since his first appearance in 1940. In the 80’s, the character left the Robin costume behind and became the hero Nightwing, but he’s had two opportunities since then to fill in as the Dark Knight. The most recent was during the presumed death of Bruce Wayne in DC Comic’s Final Crisis storyline , and Grayson was so popular in the role he kept the Batman identity for nearly three years, a record for anyone not named Bruce Wayne.
The Dark Knight Rises seems to be inspired by the 90’s Batman storyline Knightfall, in which Bane crippled Bruce Wayne and he needed to step aside to recover. During that time, Jean Paul Valley, also known as Azrael, became the new Batman. It stared to go haywire when Valley altered the bat suit into the armored monstrosity above, and got even worse when he went insane and started brutalizing petty crooks. Eventually, Bruce Wayne returned to for his old gig, allowing Azrael to redeem himself as a hero, which he eventually did. The armored Batman costume has remained un-redeemed, however.
The second Robin, Jason Todd, had a whole lot of middle-child syndrome and even worse luck to go with it. After getting killed by the Joker, Todd was resurrected using comic book mumbo jumbo even I can’t comprehend, and eventually made a play at becoming a murderous, gun toting Batman. This sort if thing is loads of fun while reading The Punisher, but its frowned upon in a Batman book. The other former Robins (of which there are a surprisingly high number) teamed up and took him down before he could disgrace the name. Then they got pizza, and discussed green shorts.