With the release of the Batman V Superman trailer at Comic-Con on Saturday, the speculation bug has bitten many people across the Internet. Who were those troops? Why was Batman in some army get up? What’s up with Jesse Eisenberg’s “hair,” is that Robin’s costume on display in the Bat Cave? All of these questions and more have filled the numerous pieces analyzing the trailer, but I thought I’d go a little bit more crackpot with my theory.
Generally I’m on the side of “wait and see” when it comes to theories, but I do enjoy reading them and trying to make sense of them as I go along. It’s sorta like ghosts or aliens. I don’t buy it, but it’s still fun to know it’s out there. For my theory, I feel there are numerous plausible answers relating to things we know and things we will probably find out that could spoil my line of thinking. But that doesn’t matter, we’re just having fun to close out Comic-Con. So with that, I pose to you this idea:
What if the Joker didn’t kill Robin, but he actually is the former Robin turned into the Joker?
Now I’m not just fully pulling this out of my ass and lobbing it at the screen. I have my reasons for thinking it and most of them stem from the trailer and what we’ve seen happen in the DC Universe films to this point. It is more likely that the relationship between villain and hero is staying the same as it is in the comics, but I got curious about how creative they might try to get with this semi-clean canvas they’re working with.
The first hurdle to clear here is the actor’s ages. Jared Leto is actually older than Ben Affleck by about a year, making the idea of Leto being Affleck’s former sidekick a little damning. But let’s just assume that real world ages don’t translate into the films. Leto looks younger than Affleck and Bruce Wayne has been through a lot. In the trailer he mentions being in Gotham for 20 years and that would place him at being the Batman at 22 years old. I could easily see Affleck playing a bit older than what he is, with Leto playing a younger Joker. Weirder things have happened.
Once you’re past that, things can breathe a bit and crazy ideas can start to breed. Let’s start with the note following the collapse of Wayne Tower.
Now my reasonable side wants to say this is some mind games by Lex Luthor, a guy who could easily figure out a secret identity and place Batman against Superman to buy whatever scheme he has some time. But my loony side and a side that has read many folks claiming this is a note from The Joker wants to read into it a bit.
First off, this note would mean that The Joker is aware of Bruce’s identity and enjoys taunting him. It’s certainly something for an arch-villain to do– and judging from his presence in the Suicide Squad trailer, he’s a pretty bad guy. Now the statement itself also lends to whoever wrote it knowing Batman’s secret identity and knowing his history with his family. Unless we’re talking “work family” in this case, Bruce Wayne has no kids and he isn’t married. The only family is the family we see near the middle of the trailer:
Daddy dearest being gunned down in the alley (better than being thrown from a high rise window). Now, who is going to know this happened to Bruce besides someone who is really close. Alfred would know, but I doubt a guy like Lex Luthor would know even by deducing who Batman really was under the mask. And even if he could read back, he’s not going to know how it affected Bruce, forcing a change into a vigilante.
So those two things point towards a very close relationship between these two characters. And we certainly know that Batman is close to Robin. You don’t just keep someone’s costume in a case because it looks really good. Also it doesn’t look good, there’s meaning there.
Obviously the go to answer is that the Joker killed Robin, much like he did to Jason Todd in the famous Death In The Family storyline (actually the fans killed Robin, the cruel, cruel fans). But my thinking travels along that path of salvation. The cleansing of the streets that Batman is attempting to do. And his greatest failures. Not just one failure, but a new one. The same kind of failure that’s going to spurn into action against Superman. The same kind of failure that would launch him to break into a government office and attempt to talk an official out of putting together a team of supervillains, particular one containing two of his worst enemies. A failure.
Joker is a failure to Batman because he can never manage to stop him, but he can’t bring himself to kill him either. Not like Superman killed Zod, an obvious threat that he was forced to put down. In this universe, death matters, but relationships seem to matter even more. Look at how Superman cared for his mother and cared for his personal bonds over those around him. Is there a reason why Batman is so strongly against what Superman did? What if the inability to kill him in this story was connected to Joker being the former disciple of Batman. A son he could train to carry the mantle. Someone who is now his worst nemesis. Someone who softened the stance for a moment and took advantage.
That’s where the graffiti comes into play. “The joke’s on you, Batman.” Are these the words of someone who tortured and murdered a partner? Or are they the words of someone who turned into the greatest villain a guy could ever whip up in a nightmare?
Obviously Robin’s death would be a failure, but I could see Robin turning evil as being an even greater sword in the side. That justice has been perverted to the point of sheer lunacy and evil. That the training he went through managed to create a monster.
This could also play into Batman and Joker being two sides of the same coin. A symbiotic relationship where one lives to taunt the other and feeding their desire for vengeance. Is it crazy? Sure. It might not even be fully plausible. But if they managed to create this sort of story change, I’d have to applaud their chutzpah.
And there are so many odds and ends I could point out, like The Joker’s desires to have tattoos and rebel against his “dad,” his flashy car and gal pal that go in the face of everything the Dark Knight seems to represent. And then there’s the line from Bruce about good men managing to stay good before going bad. He has fear about Superman in Batman V Superman, possibly because he’s been through it before?
The only people who know are the ones behind the film and I’m pretty sure they’re never going to invite me out to the party now.