Grant Morrison Answers All Your Questions About The Death Of Robin
Plus exclusive new pages from the next issue of Batman Inc. BuzzFeed talked with the Batman author over the phone about divorce, death, and irrevocable decisions.
Who was Damian Wayne?
Grant Morrison: Damian Wayne is the son of Batman. Back in the '70s, when he split up with Robin, he kind of went solo for a while and he lived in a penthouse in Gotham City and was kind of James Bond Batman: hairy-chested, very sexy, getting off with girls. And one of the women he became attached to was Talia al Ghul, who is the daughter of the world's ultimate criminal mastermind, Ra's al Ghul. And most people will be familiar with these characters from the movies. Talia appears in The Dark Knight Rises and Ra's appeared in Batman Begins.
So what you have here is Batman basically has a relationship with the world's greatest criminal mastermind, and their son becomes this super-assassin kid who's been trained by the greatest fighters in the world, who'd been brought up to be the tyrant who will take over the world in the future, and instead of this, the kid rebels against his mother and goes to Batman, his father, and basically announces himself. And Batman had no idea he had a kid, and suddenly he has a 10-year-old son who is a trained killer. So the whole story is about how Batman and his allies, particularly Dick Grayson, have been turning this vicious little villainous kid into a superhero over the last six years. So that's who Damian is: the child of the world's greatest crime fighter and the world's most evil girl.
You said Damian's been training with his dad for six years. Is that six years in Batman time or six real-world years?
GM: Six years in human time. In Batman time it's only been about a year.
In "Batman, Inc.," Talia looks like she's completely turned on her son, other than a moment of remorse at the end of the issue. Is she really that angry at Damian for choosing Batman over her?
GM: She's very angry, but she mostly hates Batman. And the thing for me was to tell a story about divorce. Because when I was a kid, my parents divorced. So I always kind of wanted to tell the story of what if you were a child of Batman and this incredible, exotic, brilliant woman who runs a criminal empire? There was once a time when Batman was in love with her and she was in love with him, but now she hates him, she hates him so bad. Because that's what happens to people, and it's really sad — people who used to really love each other end up in divorce courts, shouting at each other and bringing out the worst qualities of one another, and they hate each other. So I thought, let's expose this little kid to this. This new Robin, who is right in the middle of these two people, and because it's Batman and Talia, it's not just Damian's parents falling out, but when they fall out, the whole world ends. A superhero against a super-criminal. So it's really a way to explore what happens to kids when their parents really grow to hate one another.
Damian seemed very mature, and very dangerous, for a 10-year-old.
GM: Talia brought him up to be a world conqueror, an Alexander the Great of the 21st century, and take over the world — trained him with world-class assassins and groomed him to rule. But instead he wants to be a superhero and wants to be more like his father. So Talia basically says, OK, if you want to be like your father, I'll destroy everything that your father represents. And some people have said she seems really petty to use all of her resources just to mess with one man, and honestly, I just thought of my mother. If she had had those resources in 1972, she'd have messed up my dad just the same way. So it's about the hate that grows between lovers and the horror of being a little kid trapped in between that — and wondering why your parents don't just get on, and why everything isn't OK.
So what's up with the man who deals the fatal blow to Robin, Damian's brother?
GM: He's a clone of Damian that's been rapid-aged and genetically enhanced. He's a kind of super-being. He's only 2 years old and he has the mentality of a 2-year-old, and we'll see more of that as the story reaches its end. And that's kind of his weakness as well as his strength; he hasn't had the time to grow up and learn lessons, so he's kind of a destructive force of nature. It's kind of the negative side of Batman and the negative side of Damian are expressed in this character and he kind of wants to be Batman, to replace him and take over Gotham City and the world. He's just this crazy 2-year-old kid who wants to have his own way.
Now, was he created by Talia as an emotional and physical replacement for Damian?
GM: Absolutely. We've seen him before, as a little baby in a tank while Talia was growing him in a test tube. Readers are going to see that play out as well, since there isn't just one of these clones. There's a bunch of them, and they're all at different stages of development. So yes, he was always going to be a replacement for Damian because she has access to Batman's DNA, and she's creating these alternate Batmen. So she's this woman who'd fallen in love with this man, and now she's trying to create all these kids in his image so she can control them even if she can't him. But instead it's all going wrong; because she's a super-villain, because she was raised badly herself, she just doesn't know how to do it. She runs a criminal empire, slavery, drug-running, and we must never forget that she's not a good person. She can't escape her heritage, the shadow of her father. Unfortunately she's stuck with that. So her story is about family and how they can mess you up so bad.
Were you afraid of any backlash from killing off such a young character?
GM: Well, he's not a real kid. Anyone who feels like it's terrible this young kid's been killed in a comic should go out right now and help real young kids in trouble. If this motivated you and you're worried about what happens to children who are in trouble or who have been hurt, go out and help some real people.
Most importantly, is Robin really, REALLY dead?
GM: In terms of my story, he doesn't come back. That is the last time I ever wrote that character, and it kind of broke my heart do to it, but whatever happens in the future, I have no idea. But as far as my story is concerned, he's dead.
So Talia made a completely irrevocable mistake, then?
GM: Yes. But Batman did too. I wanted to make the point that both parents are culpable in this. This is what they've done with their stupid war. When two parents fall out, it's a small scale, but my idea is, what happens when Batman and Talia fall out? Will the whole world tremble? What's happened to Damian will affect everything, and that's how the next four issues will play out, how they work that out. Batman has a big confrontation with Talia at the end that will change pretty much everything.