Whether it will be in a prequel or present scenario, or through Nightwing or Robin, Batman’s sidekick(s) will play a part in the DC extended universe. There have been rumours floating around the internet about various actors taking on the role (many of whom have been included in this list), but as of yet it is all speculation. Who would you like to see don the Robin colors and take on Gotham’s biggest foes?
As we’re seeing with DC castings, they’re aiming for a different approach. Gone is the realism of Nolan in terms of the Gotham aspect, with a more brooding Batman and a Joker that is meant to be as different to Ledger’s as possible. Even the castings of Deathstroke and Gordon are a change of direction, so how do we see the choice of Robin? One would imagine he would be buffer than previous incarnations, with less of a campy look more in line with the character of Raphael from TMNT. But which actor can pull off playing the rebel who becomes disenchanted with Batman in some way? You’re about to find out.
Here are the top 15 picks for Robin/Nightwing, does your top candidate make the list? Feel free to share the list on social media.
15. Kit Harington
Kit has had huge success since Game of Thrones hit screens and is perhaps the most beloved actor of the series. With only 2 seasons left of the juggernaut, it’s time he seeks new roles to engage with. What better than DC’s Robin? Kit has the ability to appear rather strong and also have a softer side. He’s an actor with range that is yet to be fully utilized and we are sure he’d be itching to not be typecast as a warrior-from-an-old-age character.
It is clear that playing Robin would provide the first step towards a Hollywood career. The best fit for Kit would probably be Tim Drake or Jason Todd, especially if they’re going with the ‘Under the Red Hood’ storyline. Kit can play angry, hurt and aggressive. His accent needs a sheen, but otherwise he is a great addition to the DC universe. If DC are to finally stick a finger up to Marvel, they need to look outside the box for talent. There’s already one GoT actor on board.
14. Chris Pine
Yes, I know he’s cast in Wonder Woman, but that doesn’t mean he’s ruled out of the role. While personally I am not a fan of Pine, he has a great Robin look and fits in well with the theme they’re setting. In 90s Batman, it wouldn’t have worked. But now, Affleck is always going to be the chunkier beast and a 36-year-old Pine is a great age to play the sidekick. He’s cut his teeth in Star Trek, so Pine is not a real risk, in fact, he may be the safest bet here. He’s played action, humour and bit parts for much of his career, and in Robin (specifically Nightwing) there is a chance to add his style to the DCEU. Robin is essential to the success of the franchise, and they need someone with Pine’s physicality, charisma and wit to challenge Batman and any villain Affleck decides to face. Now, what to do about that Wonder Woman gig?
13. Tobey Maguire
You have to admit, at least at times, he was a great Spider-Man. But old Tobey has stalled in recent years, unable to adapt as a grown man, still looking like a child. Marvel sucked him in and spat him out…but he can turn to the darker side in DC and be Nightwing.
Tobey has already been a believable superhero that everyone has loved, but with his recent performance in The Great Gatsby, it is clear he wants to break back into the spotlight. When your best friend is Leo, surely you can pull a few strings and make it happen, right? Robin isn’t too different from Spidey when it comes to appearance and temperament. Tobey is a good age, he has plenty to give and Affleck would appreciate someone that has batted for the other side, as he has.
This is the type of casting that could send the internet into a frenzy. He’s been on hiatus since 2014, even more reason to give him a call. You just need to hope J.K. Simmons, who appeared in Spider-Man with Maguire and is also appearing in Justice League, may have some influence.
12. Shia LaBeouf
What a casting choice this would be. Shia has gone off the rails slightly, but one thing he can do is pull off emotion and anger. He’s buffed up, people are unsure of his acting credentials and the stage is set for his grand reappearance. Due to this, I’d cast him as Jason Todd for the rebirth into the Red Hood and let the man challenge Affleck‘s Batman and Leto‘s Joker. He has the crazy to match the Joker, and the wildness to worry Batman. Shia’s schedule is rather free, and he loves to delve into a role head first to show the world what he’s capable of. DC needs a drawcard, and this former Transformers star can lead the way forward. There’s no doubt that he is an absolute talent. It’s a shame he’s viewed poorly, because Shia remains capable of anything.
11. Miles Teller
A brilliant actor who suffered the wrath from the Fantastic 4 critics, Miles Teller could jump ship and try this role on for size. Recently adding muscle due to this role in a boxing film, Miles has the physicality to match his wit. Miles can no longer play the party-boy role made famous in Project X and 21 & Over. After Whiplash and War Dogs, the opportunity for more is just too good to pass up. The DCEU need some young talent to drive the narrative forward. With Miles we can feel sorry for him, understand his anger and watch as he is torn apart by an array of deadly villains. J.K. Simmons and Teller were astonishing together in Whiplash, so why not reunite them as Robin/Nightwing and James Gordon? If DC don’t snap him up, he’ll forever be known as a large part of a failed Fantastic 4 reboot…and he’s just too good for that. Will DC trust him?
10. Stephen Amell
To start, he’d play Nightwing. Amell has completed an apprenticeship by appearing as Arrow, now it’s time for him to graduate to DC cinema. Disregard the fact that he looks exactly like Chris O’Donnell from the 90s Batman movies, Amell is a skillful fighter that is better off from distances and trapezes. With Jason Todd the likely dead Robin, Dick Grayson appears to be at large. They would need someone of Amell’s character and experience to pull off an aggravated Nightwing, someone who isn’t campy or weak alongside an Affleck-sized Batman. But what works against this casting most is that fans have a hard time separating actors from previous roles. It was difficult enough with the Affleck casting, as everyone still thought of him as a failed Daredevil. The cinematic and TV universes will never collide in DC, so creators have little to worry about. Yet as we’ve come to see, comic book lovers are impossible to please completely.
9. James/Dave Franco
His brother was Hobgoblin, and Dave can be Robin…or should James rediscover his superhero roots and rejoin as Nightwing? The Franco brothers are interesting in that they seem to limit themselves to comedy of late, yet it is also clear that they have the ability to star in action or darker themes. James has proven himself in the genre, so a step to Nightwing would be seamless and allow him to step away from the work of Seth Rogen.
Dave is starting to attract attention for greater roles, and could play a great Tim Drake. Whether it be Batman’s sidekick or another character in the DCEU, look no further than the Franco pair. As faith is almost lost despite Affleck’s big attempt to pull the franchise back in order, there has to be likeable actors involved in the upcoming additions.
8. Aaron Paul
The Robin used in the DCEU will no doubt go through pain. Aaron Paul demonstrated this ability in Breaking Bad. He’s better than Need for Speed. This is an actor who managed to shine alongside the master, Bryan Cranston. At 37, he’s the perfect age for Dick Grayson. His must have a poor agent, because since that brilliant role in Breaking Bad he has been in poor film after poor film. But there’s hope. The dynamic between Walter White and Jesse Pinkman is not dissimilar to Batman and Robin in the early seasons. Sure Walter becomes a villain and hurts Jesse in multiple ways, but the care does remain. He shows him the ropes, and then they have a difference of opinion. Throw this into Gotham, and you have Nightwing and Batman. We just have to hope Aaron Paul has hired a new agent if the studios start calling for him.
7. Steven Yeun
This addition was made due to the rumours circulating his casting in Justice League as Robin. Sure, Robin isn’t Asian, and he would appear nothing like this Walking Dead star, but rumors are rumors and they must be discussed. Yeun hasn’t really done much else in his career, if we’re being honest. His rumoured casting does throw us off a little; with such an array of actors to choose from, why go with a man that appears nothing like the source material when you’ve chosen a Batman almost solely based on his look? But the DC filmmakers are a different bunch, and they must see possibility in Yeun that we’re all missing. One could say he has been the Robin to Rick’s Batman for 6 seasons now, so he’s done his apprenticeship, but skepticism remains.
6. Adam Driver
Young Kylo Ren could play a tainted Robin if he can play a tainted Sith lord in-the-making. Tall, lanky and athletic, Adam is in a rich vein of form if he can manage to sneak into the Star Wars and DC franchise with such iconic roles.
While he received much criticism for his portrayal as Kylo Ren due to the emotion required, this is a great asset for Robin. Forever in Batman’s shadow, this is a necessity. But is this placing too heavy a burden on a young actor’s shoulders? Whatever Robin they choose to utilize, there is sure to be the need for pain. Let Driver do his thing. If DC has done anything right so far, it’s casting. Robbie as Harley, Smith as Deadshot, Cavill as Superman and Affleck as the bat have been brilliant choices. Leto can still be a brilliant Joker, if he gets time. So if nothing else, Driver may be chosen to continue to streak.
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Named Robin in Nolan‘s last Batman film, it would be good to see him actually don the suit and tackle the role. While many wouldn’t appreciate the cross-over from Nolan’s world to the DCEU, others want it. All those rumours about Bale still being Batman and Affleck merely being Deathstroke were squashed, but a loose bridge is a fantastic way to bring new fans on board.
Gordon-Levitt is an amazing actor, evident by his extensive list of films alongside top names; Hardy, DiCaprio, Bale, Willis. He is never outdone, and deserves his place in the superhero world. While the Red Hood storyline may not suit him, the Nightwing one definitely does. He held his own in a different take on Gotham, so there’s no reason to say he can’t tackle the meta human version. He’ll be wary, of course, jumping from a critically acclaimed version to a critically canned one, but his experience may right the ship.
4. Matt Damon
This entry is made for humour rather than possibility. Affleck and Damon as Batman and Robin is hilarious. There has been a call for Damon to appear as Green Arrow or Deathstroke, but neither of those roles really suit him. Damon would hate to play second fiddle to his best mate, and his age counts against him, but this is Hollywood where money does all the talking. He’s proven his fighting skill as Bourne, he’s challenged greats such as DiCaprio and Nicholson head on and he needs a new project. When Affleck and Damon work together, good things happen. It’s what Marvel lacks, sure, Downey and Evans are strong leads for their respective roles, but they’ve really done little else to hang their hats on. Before all the Downey fans throw their arms up, ask yourself; does he just play himself all the time? Damon is Hollywood’s good guy and Robin is Gotham’s equivalent.
3. Michael B Jordan
Yeah, he’s black, but so what? We’re quickly seeing that Hollywood doesn’t care about accurate portrayals, so this rising star is a possibility and makes it into the top three. Another unfortunate member of the Fantastic 4 reboot, Jordan has proven his acting chops in Creed and Fruitvale Station. This would be a much better casting choice than Yeung. You could really see Affleck mentor Jordan the way Stallone did, which would only mean good things for DC.
To have a potential Robin/Red Hood/Nightwing spinoff film will almost be essential, and you need an actor that will bring along the fans for a new take on a great role. A bigger backstory could be explored here and there is definitely a way to add an intriguing character that holds more cards than the likes of Aquaman and Cyborg…but we’ll see, won’t we?
2. Liam Hemsworth
His brother plays Thor, so Liam should play his role in the opposing franchise; it’s only fair. This baby-faced Aussie is well built, has acted in large franchises (Hunger Games) and is still relatively young. Rather than remain in his brother’s shadow, Liam could announce himself on the big stage and wrestle with the foes of Gotham. He has the looks, the size and the know-how; many would just question whether he fits the role completely.
Once again, this depends on how they plan on portraying Batman’s sidekick, because funnily enough, he could end up being too young for the role. They’ll likely want someone battered and bruised to take up the mantle, and he is yet to showcase much emotion from previous roles. But his family has an impressive superhero pedigree, so the younger Hemsworth is worth the risk. DC would be wise to take a risk in this regard because Robin is a character that can take many forms.
1. Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Known for his role in Kick-Ass, this guy has bulked up and become almost unrecognizable in some of his roles (see Godzilla). Originally a curly-haired nerd, Aaron has grown and has already taken part in a superhero franchise; albeit a tongue-in-cheek format. If you’re looking for the next Robin/Nightwing, look no further. Of all the candidates, he is the prime choice. He looks exactly the way Robin should, he’s buff for this take on the Batman tale, he has already trained in fighting and there’s a need for him to take the next step into the spotlight. He also has a dose of humour to him, which we all know would help with the sidekick role at some point, even if he is an emotional wreck by the end of proceedings. While it remains to be seen whether they’ll go with a safe choice (Pine), a strange choice (Yeun) or even an older choice (Maguire), Aaron must be in the running.
Who gets your nod?