Major “Dark Knight Rises” spoilers ahead!
John Blake is Robin.
It feels nice to finally say that and know for sure that the mysterious John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who we spent months theorizing about, is actually Christopher Nolan’s take on the Boy Wonder. While that was perhaps the most popular theory, there was certainly enough evidence to doubt it. (I may have said Robin was “not gonna happen.”)
But now that we know the truth, there has been some backlash about the nature of the reveal. “No.” “It was predictable.” “It was totally unnecessary.” All these complaints are valid to a point, but taking a step back from the twist, Nolan managed to fit Robin into his Gotham in a way that didn’t compromise his vision or feel like empty fan service.
The Lying Game
So Nolan lied to you. Get over it. He lied to everyone, including me. I even went as far as to remove Robin from the realm of possibilities, but there he was. Some people have called Nolan out for fibbing when it came to Robin, but what was the guy supposed to do? Somewhere along the line, it became “uncool” for directors like Nolan and J.J. Abrams to lie to audiences about rumors, as if they’re supposed to offer up the twist if someone on Twitter guesses it correctly. Was Nolan supposed to throw his hands up last March and go, “Yep, you got it. He’s Robin. I hope you enjoy the final twist when it comes out over a year from now”? Nolan lied about Robin because he had to lie about Robin, and he did so because he’s not a hero; he’s a director.
Who Is John Blake?
The other added benefit of the big Robin lie was that we could enjoy John Blake’s story as it unfolded onscreen. Without the weight of a Robin moniker or naming him Dick Grayson, Blake was free to have his own development, independent of anything that came before it. The question of who this guy will become faded away as the movie started because his standalone story was compelling enough. For as much as we wondered who John Blake was in the lead-up to the movie, that mattered less during the film because we knew that would come out in due time, after we enjoyed the ride.
Your Legal Name [Long Pause] Robin
While the line delivery is regrettable, the reveal happened when it did for a reason. In almost a teasing gesture, Nolan lets us know that he’s included Robin in the final movie all along, and by the time he finally clues us in, the movie is essentially over. Make no mistake about it: John Blake was always Robin. Nolan just did us all the favor of freeing him from whatever baggage comes with being Robin, allowing us to create a new opinion about the character without having images of Chris O’Donnell or Burt Ward’s briefs. The reveal let us like Robin before we knew he was Robin.
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