From Robin To Nightwing: The Evolution of Dick Grayson

From Robin To Nightwing: The Evolution of Dick Grayson

Image for postFirst Look at Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson in the upcoming television series ?Titans? [Source: TV Line]

Fans of Batman will be familiar with the The Bat?s first adopted son, Dick Grayson and how he came to be in the hero?s care before he became the first Boy Wonder, Robin. But, what many don?t know is how much he has grown as a character. Dick?s evolution over the years has become one of the most recognisable character developments in DC Comics history.

Let?s take a much deeper look at who Dick Grayson is and how he has evolved over the years as a character. Before we dive into the gritty details, we need to establish who he is.

Who Is Dick Grayson?

If we?re going to talk about any character, we need to know who they are and what their back story is. So, just who is Dick Grayson?

Born as the son of Haley?s Circus trapeze artists, John and Mary Grayson, Dick was born was Richard John Grayson and practically lived and breathed aerobatics.

When he was young, Dick overhears crime boss Tony Zucco threatens the boss of the circus. When the circus boss refused to pay Zucco his money, the crime boss took revenge and had the Graysons? trapeze sabotaged. Dick was forced to watch as his parents fell to their deaths.

Adoption And Becoming The First Robin

After his parents? murders, Dick was placed into the uncaring foster system. He was treated poorly. Though was soon rescued by none other than Bruce Wayne. Despite being saved from a cruel fate in the Orphanage, Dick quickly became frustrated when Bruce would give him even the smallest of attention. Deciding enough was enough, Dick decided to investigate his parents? murders on his own, regardless if he had Bruce?s help.

The first place Dick went was back to the scene of the crime, Haley?s circus. However, he gets ambushed by one of Zucco?s associates, Eddie Skeevers and is almost killed. Dick awakens in the Batcave, discovering Bruce is Batman. Together, the unlikely pair work together to work out, exactly what Zucco is up to.

After a while, Bruce comes to the realisation Dick is a lot like him and offers him a chance to prove himself. He asks the boy to take on the mantle of his sidekick and to do some good in the world. Dick accepts and becomes the first in a long line of Robins.

Romance With Batgirl

Dick was many things and he had a high profiled romance with one of the most beloved characters in Batman lore, the original Batgirl herself, Barbara Gordon.

For the longest time, Dick and Barbara had a close relationship as Dick?s foster dad was Batman and Barbara?s dad, Jim Gordon was an ally of Batman, so they would have crossed paths. The pair went through a lot together and eventually, ended up romantically linked and this was long before they became known as Nightwing and Oracle.

When Barbara fell victim to The Joker and his war on Batman and Commissioner Gordon ? she ended up paralysed after The Joker shoots her in the spine. When Dick gets wind of what has happened, he?s first reaction is total devastation. As time goes on, Dick proposes to Barbara and she accepts, however, when Batman asks for his help, Dick is reluctant as he promised Barbara he would give up being a hero. Barbara, seeing him torn over what he should do, allows him to help their friend, telling him they just aren?t ready for marriage.

Romance with Starfire

Other than Barbara, Dick?s other great romance was with Teen Titans teammate, Starfire, despite it being widely believed that Barbara was the love of Dick?s life.

During the crisis involving the Judas Contract, Dick and the original Teen Titans, rescue an alien girl who doesn?t understand English. The girl, Koriand?r and Dick had instant chemistry which resulted in a kiss. This kiss was the way Koriand?r learned English.

Five years into their relationship, Dick impulsively proposes and Kory says yes. However, their union wasn?t to be. Their friend and teammate Raven became evil and interrupted the wedding, killing and injuring people. After their near wedding, the pair end up with a strained relationship as Kory fears Dick had become anti-alien.

Relationship With Batman

Not matter what comic book era you?re reading, Dick?s relationship with his adoptive father is almost always the same: tense. It should be noted that Bruce was always tough on Dick which was why young Grayson always went to Alfred for fatherly advice instead of Bruce. This came when Alfred realised his mistake upon raising Bruce after the deaths of his parents. Bruce was raising Dick the same way Alfred had raised him: with tough love.

When Bruce discovered he had fathered a child with Talia Al Ghul, Dick was brought in to help train the heir to the demon and was often forced to play babysitting, big brother and sparing partner to the boy. Despite his own upbringing, Dick certainly didn?t like the idea of playing babysitter, but he did it because Damien was now his family and his little brother.

It?s evident in every piece of media he appears in that Dick is the polar opposite of Batman. When he was Robin, he was a cheery lad who followed his mentor?s rules and often broke them when he saw fit. As he grew, Dick found he didn?t deserve to be in Batman?s shadow and decided to venture out on his own.

Team Ups

Over his lifetime, Dick was a member of a number of teams of heroes. His most famous venture was The Teen Titans in which he started out.

The Teen Titans started as a group of sidekicks, associated with various members of The Justice League. Originally, the version of the team Dick was a part of consisted of him, Wally West; the nephew of Barry Allen?s The Flash and Garth; the sidekick of Aquaman. Later on, Donna Troy; the original the sidekick of Wonder Woman and Roy Harper; sidekick of The Green Arrow joined the team?s ranks.

Dick was elected as the team?s leader as he was the most experienced. The group of former sidekicks would see their fair share of horrors and dangers, including having to save their mentors from mind control.

As the years wore on, the team started to disband as they started to grow up and move away from their sidekick roots. However, Dick was called back into action, not long after, he became Nightwing. He was called upon by a figure known only as Raven. Dick once again took on the role of leader, but soon headed the handed the reins over to Donna Troy. Raven had pulled together the second generation of Teen Titans.

Becoming Nightwing

As he started to grow into his solo hero role, Dick wanted nothing more than to step away from being known simply as ?Batman?s sidekick?. However, after he was shot in the shoulder by The Joker, Batman tells his adoptive son that he needs to give up being Robin.

Eventually, Dick decided to move out of Wayne Manor to attend Hudson University. He dropped out some time later, after just one semester. Because he quit college, Grayson was free to continue serving alongside the Teen Titans.

When it came to advice, Dick often found himself turning to Superman, as he knew the Kryptonian understood what he was going through. For a short time, Dick considered giving up being a superhero all together as he could no longer fight as Robin. Superman told him a story about a man on Krypton who was rejected by his family. While the strange man?s identity was not revealed, he did go by the name Nightwing. This inspired Dick to become his own hero under that very same moniker.

When the Titans were caught by Deathstroke, Dick decided the time was right to on his new persona as Nightwing. Because of this mission, Dick had finally found himself stepping away from Batman?s imposing shadow. However, despite not being Robin anymore, still upset him, especially when Batman decided to take on Jason Todd as the second Robin.

Because of this new arrangement, Dick?s relationship with Bruce never fully recovered. Though, it was through longtime fan Tim Drake that made Dick reconsider. Tim tried to get Dick to return to his mantle as Robin, but Dick refused. When Jason was killed by The Joker, Dick saw Bruce?s need for a sidekick and pleaded with his adoptive father to consider taking on Tim as the third Robin.

After impulsively proposing to Starfire and having their wedding interrupted by an evil Raven, Dick was left devastated when Kory decided to go on a ?spiritual journey? after Raven planted a ?demon seed? within his now former fiance to do so.

Some time later, Dick almost gave up with the superhero mantle a second time but decided against it. It was also in this time that he realises there was so much more to the murders of his parents than he was originally led to believe. Later, he returned to Bruce and Alfred and told them they were the only family he had ever needed. He then became Nightwing in a permanent basis.

Famous Storylines (As Robin)

All superheroes have their own storylines. Therefore, Dick Grayson is no exception. Here are three of Dick?s most famous storylines while he was Robin.

1. Robin The Boy WonderDick?s introduction was during 1940 as a combination of Robin Hood and Doctor Watson. His original purpose was to serve as Batman?s companion.

Dick?s backstory was similar as Bruce Wayne?s. He saw his parents murdered and decided to avenge them by fighting crime.

2. Operation EscapeBy the time late 1940?s rolled around, Robin had gained his own solo comic series. The Robin comics ended during the early 1950s.These comics showed Robin was more than just Batman?s sidekick and that he was able to work on his own.

3. Requiem For A TitanBy the 1960s, Robin found himself in the position of leader of the Teen Titans. The Teen Titans were a junior incarnation of the Justice League of America. It was this adventure that Robin would begin to distance himself from Batman.

Famous Storylines (As Nightwing)

The 1980s saw a massive change in Dick Grayson?s persona. He slowly began to shape into another persona. He became known as Nightwing. Here are four of Dick?s adventures as Nightwing.

1. The Judas ContractAs of the 1980s, Dick earned his place a separate hero to Batman. By this time, he had become Nightwing, the polar opposite of the sidekick, he had once been to Batman. After the founding of the new Teen Titans, Jason Todd became Robin.

2. A Knight In BldhavenA Knight in Bldhaven became the start of Dick?s transition into Nightwing. This first adventure shows him getting a sense of the corruption that plagued Bldhaven.

3. The Black MirrorIn the early 2000s, Dick accomplished the one thing fans may not have expected him to do. He becomes The Dark Knight himself. However, Dick does not become Batman full time. When Bruce is presumed dead, Nightwing takes on the Batman cowl.

The Upcoming Nightwing Film, The Batman And Titans

At San Diego Comic Con 2016, DC Entertainment announced Dick would star in his own spinoff film as Nightwing. The film, which is entitled Nightwing, will be directed by Chris McKay. McKay mentioned he knew how the fans felt about the character and knew how they would the character to be portrayed in the right light and how he knew the would want the character to be portrayed as closely as possible to the original.

However, McKay stressed that fans shouldn?t expect a straightforward origin story, though he did mention the possibility of flashbacks.

Director of the two most recent Planet of the Apes installments, Matt Reeves will helm The Batman, which could very well be the starting point for Dick?s debut into the DCEU. It could even set the events of the Nightwing movie into motion. The film could should a young Dick move through the ranks of Robin and eventually becoming Nightwing.

Dick is set to enter the live action television world sometime in 2018 with the television series, Titans where he will be portrayed by Australian actor Brenton Thwaites and will begin his tenure on the show as Robin, trying detach himself from Batman and to become an independent hero.


So, there you have it, a look at the evolution of the great character, Dick Grayson. Despite being a sidekick, he has grown into becoming his own person by detaching himself from his mentor and adoptive father, Bruce Wayne. Dick has the heart and soul of a leader, having learned from one of the best heroes around.

Nightwing and The Batman have yet to begin production and have yet to receive release dates.

Titans is set to premiere on an upcoming DC streaming service sometime in 2018.


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