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The Brave And The Bold: How Grant Morrison's Batman And Robin Storyline Could Shape The DCU

DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran have revealed the first chapter of the DC Universe titled "Gods and Monsters." As part of this refresh, there will be a new Batman film called "The Brave and the Bold." Now, this movie won't be an adaptation of the comic series of the same name or even the terrific animated show that aired on Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2011, but it will be inspired by writer Grant Morrison's seminal "Batman" comic book run. In Gunn's announcement video, he even used a few key images from the "Batman and Robin" series in particular.

Morrison served as a writer on several "Batman" books for seven years. Notably, Morrison and artist Andy Kubert were responsible for the creation of Bruce Wayne's son, Damian, who debuted in 2006's "Batman and Son" arc. Damian became the new Robin of the DC Universe and established himself as a main feature in 2009's "Batman and Robin" storyline. Without a shadow of a doubt, Morrison's stories also played a big part in reshaping the Dynamic Duo for the modern age, and their influence can be felt in DC Comics to this day.

Gunn's being vocal about how "The Brave and the Bold" will draw inspiration from Morrison's work is a good indication of what fans can expect to see on the big screen. Let's take a look at how this comic book run could shape Batman and the future of the DCU.

Someone else could be wearing the cape and cowl

While the average person on the street knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, that isn't always true in the comics. In fact, there have been several people who have put on the cape and cowl when Bruce has been preoccupied with other matters. In the first few arcs of "Batman and Robin," it isn't Bruce in the infamous suit but the first Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. At this point in continuity, the Bat Family believes Bruce has gone to the big Batcave in the sky, so Dick has taken over the mantle from his mentor. Of course, through typical convoluted comic book shenanigans, Bruce returns later on and becomes Batman once again.

While James Gunn has been clear about how "The Brave and the Bold" will explore the relationship dynamic between Bruce and his son, Damian, it isn't outside the realm of possibility to see someone else playing Batman in the DCU at some point. It could even be a simple scene in the film where Dick — or someone else — assumes the mantle for a mission, allowing Bruce to be in another place at the same time. It's unlikely it would be a permanent change, but don't be surprised if someone else wears the cape and cowl as well.

A change in dynamic between Batman and Robin

In most adaptations of Batman, the general consensus is that the Dark Knight is the brooding curmudgeon, while Robin is the quippy sidekick who has a zest for life and crime-fighting. However, Grant Morrison's "Batman" run switches up the status quo. As a father, the Dark Knight has the added responsibility of being a guiding light to his son, and he can't sit on gargoyles all night in total silence. For the first time, he needs to step up as both Bruce Wayne and the Bat in equal measure.

On the opposite side of the coin is Damian Wayne. Unlike other Robins, he is far more violent and bad-tempered. Having been raised by his mother, Talia, and grandfather, Ra's al Ghul, he knows nothing about mercy or compassion. In fact, Batman's no-kill rule feels extremely silly to him.

In all likelihood, "The Brave and the Bold" will find Batman having to show a different way of life to Robin. He will need to demonstrate how they can be symbols of hope and justice without losing themselves to the darkness in the process. Robin will inevitably test Batman's patience, but it will be a journey of growth and self-discovery for both characters as they learn more about each other.

The introduction of wilder and wackier villains

Batman possesses the most layered and vast rogues' gallery of any comic book hero, with a variety of truly awful and wicked villains. He has enough enemies to punch on a daily basis for decades without getting bored, as Gotham City breeds villains faster than weeds. Yet the films always seem to circle back to the same old names: Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Joker. It's understandable, though, since they are recognizable names and the average moviegoer might not want to see Batsy duke it out with Condiment King or Kite Man as the main attraction.

In "Batman and Robin," Grant Morrison finds a way to blend the tried-and-trusted foes with left-field choices like Mr. Toad, Professor Pyg, and Flamingo. In the first arc titled "Batman: Reborn," Toad and Pyg play a crucial role in the overall plot — especially Pyg, an insane killer who wears a pig mask and fits his victims with Dollotron masks. Morrison and their collaborators embrace the zany nature of comics in shaping the appearance of these characters, but they also discover a way to convey how sinister and maniacal someone like Pyg is in the storyline.

"The Brave and the Bold" has the ability to do something similar. While a major Batman villain will likely be the big boss of the film, there is an opportunity to bring in lesser-known and wilder rogues to the proceedings as supporting characters.

The arrival of more Bat Family members

Look, no one can blame Hollywood for trying to avoid the Bat Family after 1997's disastrous "Batman & Robin." Seeing Batman, Batgirl, and Robin, as a formidable team didn't quite have the effect Warner Bros., may have expected when the studio first envisioned the film. Since then, the focus has largely shifted to Batman as a solo operator on the big screen. Yet "The Brave and the Bold" is set to give the sidekicks another go through the inclusion of Damian Wayne's Robin. By starting with this version of Robin, though, this confirms the Bat Family is already fully established at this point. In other words, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake should have all been Robins before Damian here.

Grant Morrison's "Batman" run includes the different Robins and sidekicks in various roles, as well as Damian's interactions with them. In "Batman and Son," for example, Damian shows a particular disdain for Tim and even attacks him in the Batcave. He doesn't start off on the right foot with Dick, either. Needless to say, the youngest member of the Bat Family doesn't exactly make friends wherever he goes.

At an event covering the new slate of DC films (via /Film), Peter Safran confirmed other members of the Bat Family will show up in "The Brave and the Bold"; however, he didn't name who exactly would appear in the movie.

More humor in the story

A key element of Grant Morrison's writing is how they and their artists aren't afraid to embrace psychedelic and nonlinear storytelling. The writer embraces the rare opportunity that the comic book medium affords to do this approach; however, Morrison also shows the ability to punch up the tales with necessary humor and lighthearted moments, preventing them from becoming overly grim affairs.

Throughout Morrison's "Batman" run, there are many hilarious moments between Batman and Robin. At times, Damian Wayne openly defies Batman's instructions and follows his own devices. As a result, things often go pear-shaped and there needs to be an exchange about Damian's behavior and insubordination. Due to Damian's fiery and hostile personality, he almost never accepts responsibility and quotes what he learned from his mother's side of the family. It's easy to see how this would give Batman gray hairs and leave him exasperated.

Judging by James Gunn's previous projects, the filmmaker favors humor that comes out of conflict, so it would be no surprise if "The Brave and the Bold" leans into this element from the comics as well.

The revelation of Batman Incorporated

One of Grant Morrison's biggest contributions to the DC Universe is the creation of Batman Incorporated. The premise is simple: Batman realizes he can't stop crime on his own or be everywhere all at once, so he needs to recruit others to help his cause. The Bat Family, or the Gotham Knights, can take care of Gotham City, but there's a need for others around the globe. Like a multinational corporation, the Dark Knight finds other Batman and Robin in different countries, such as Knight and Squire in England, to hold down the fort in their respective part of the world.

Essentially, this is Batman's attempt at creating his own superhero team where he is the CEO of all Bat-related affairs. "The Brave and the Bold" is confirmed to feature members of the Bat Family, but it will be interesting to see how far James Gunn and Peter Safran's Batverse extends here. It might be too soon to introduce the concept of Batman Incorporated, though the seeds could be planted for a future adventure.

The exploration of the al Ghul legacy

As the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne has a complicated history. It's no surprise then that Grant Morrison's "Batman" run involves two stories. First, it's a look at Damian's upbringing and how the League of Assassins plays a vital role in shaping who he is. Damian inherits his mother's and grandfather Ra's al Ghul's perspective of forcing the world to be what you want it to be.

The second part is all about Damian's learning life lessons from his father and freeing himself from the Demon's Head's brainwashing. Damian rejects Bruce's way of life at first, but he soon discovers that he has never had the opportunity to be a normal child under the al Ghuls' parenting style. He comes to a realization that Ra's and Talia may actually be the bad people in this situation.

While the al Ghuls were the foundation of Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy," there wasn't as much exploration about who they are and the League as much as some fans may have wanted. "The Brave and the World" now has the chance to look deeper into this dynasty and to unravel why the al Ghuls are both one of the most dangerous and powerful families around.

The debut of a different Batmobile

No Bat project is ever complete without the presence of the Batmobile. The vehicle has become as synonymous with the character as the bat-shaped logo on his chest. While the Dark Knight has never been shy of changing up the appearance and style of his wheels, the vehicle undergoes one of the most radical redesigns in the "Batman and Robin" comic book series.

Thanks to Damian Wayne's genius, he decides to play around with his father's designs and change the look and features of the vehicle. No longer is the Batmobile confined to the road, as Damian installs a mode that allows it to fly through the air. At the same time, the young Robin gets rid of the uber-dark aesthetic by splashing red all over the large bat insignia that covers the vehicle. Undoubtedly, the excessive use of red is pure vanity on his part and an allusion to Robin's colors here.

Considering every single version of Batman on screen has featured its own distinct Batmobile, there is no doubt there will be a new version of the vehicle in "The Brave and the Bold." If the filmmakers decide to take direct inspiration from "Batman and Robin," it would make this new Batmobile the perfect merger of the iconic car and the Batwing.

Batman and Robin fall under the Joker's spell

The Golden Age of Comics would often showcase stories where either Batman or Robin — or maybe both — would be manipulated by a villain into committing crimes. Sometimes, a rogue such as the Joker or Poison Ivy would use a toxin that would have them in a subservient trance, until the heroes eventually broke free and righted the wrongs.

Grant Morrison introduces a similar angle in "Batman and Robin," as the Joker gets Batman and Robin to do his bidding in the "Batman and Robin Must Die" arc. The Clown Prince of Crime does utilize his special chemicals to get inside the heads, but this is more about him getting the Dynamic Duo to do what he wants or face the consequences of his wrath. Of course, this isn't a permanent change, and Joker ends up with a few punches to the head as a result of his devious behavior.

While it's unknown if "The Brave and the Bold" will introduce the Joker into the DCU right away, it would be a fun, throwback story to see Batman and Robin being unwitting participants in the Clown Prince's schemes. Heck, James Gunn could even go full throttle and incorporate elements of 1978's "The Laughing Fish" storyline here.

It's part of a shake-up in Batman's lore

While many writers dream of penning Dark Knight stories that change the landscape of the DC Universe forever, the truth is not many do. It isn't their fault, though, as they are beholden to a corporate organization that often values the status quo over radical evolution. This is what makes Grant Morrison's "Batman" run even more remarkable and special, as they were able to carve out a niche in the character's lore.

Morrison tweaked various aspects of the Batverse. They paved the way for Stephanie Brown to become Batgirl while also letting Tim Drake evolve into Red Robin. Of course, the biggest shake-up was the introduction of Damian Wayne, who has become vital to the overall Batman mythology and accepted as the new Robin. That being said, there was a DC reboot in the form of the New 52 a few years after Morrison's stories — and some of their changes were reverted — but many aspects of the writer's work are still considered canon.

Considering how "The Brave and the Bold" is part of chapter one of the new DC film universe, it will build the story foundation for what is to follow. While James Gunn might not implement every single one of the same changes that Morrison did in their "Batman" run, he may take some — pardon the pun — bold steps to differentiate this version of the Bat from all the others that came before him.

The story lays the foundation for the Dark Multiverse

One of the key villains of Grant Morrison's "Batman and Robin" comic book series is Simon Hurt, or Doctor Hurt. In the story, it's revealed he is Thomas Wayne — not Bruce's father but a distant relative of the Waynes with the same name. Hurt's master plan is to resurrect a hellish demon known as Barbatos, and he even wants to use Robin's soul as a barter for it. Fortunately, Batman and Robin put a stop to his plan before Barbatos and all manner of fiends made a pitstop in Gotham City.

Barbatos does become a major figure in 2017's "Dark Nights: Metal" storyline by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO Plascencia. The demonic being plans to shroud the DC Universe in darkness and has created evil versions of Batman across the Dark Multiverse — including the popular villain The Batman Who Laughs — to assist him.

While "The Brave and the Bold" might be a step too soon to introduce the concept of the Dark Multiverse, it could be considered an event in the DCU somewhere down the line. A villain like The Batman Who Laughs, in particular, is almost too good to be ignored in a cinematic universe.

Batman vs. Robin

Ironically, Grant Morrison's "Batman" run shows how similar Batman and Robin are, despite their differing methods of dishing out justice. Both of them are as stubborn as mules, do not take kindly to advice from others, and prefer to be narrow-minded in their overall view of the world. If opposites attract, then the kindred clash.

In terms of Damian Wayne, he has a giant chip on his shoulder as well, believing that he will be the right person to replace Batman and that it's his birthright. Thanks to his brash and abrasive nature, he gets into various tiffs, including with his father, to demonstrate his "superior" fighting prowess and acumen. It's something of an unwinnable battle for Batman — and Damian knows this — since he can't slap sense into his son in the same way he does to Gotham's underworld but he still needs to stand his ground somehow.

With "The Brave and the Bold" exploring the intricacies of the relationship between Batman and Robin, it also needs to take a look at the uglier side of their disputes. Don't expect to see Bruce Wayne punishing Damian by sending him to his room without the young Robin aiming a roundhouse kick or Batarang at his father's head.