06 December 2015

Sam Hamm’s Plan for Robin, part 4

When we last left Sam Hamm’s penultimate screenplay for the 1989 Batman film, Batman was badly injured in the crash of his bat-shaped airplane, and Dick Grayson, dressed in his “ominous” red-and-green gymnast’s suit, was chasing the Joker with a .38.

A BELLTOWER's jagged spire, jutting up into the night sky, piercing the moon. At street level, the JOKER scrambles up the marble steps the entrance of the old abandoned cathedral. He pulls a WALKIE-TALKIE off his belt.

Gotham Cathedral. Come and get me.

HEAVY PANELED DOORS groan on tired hinges as THE JOKER forces his way inside. A beat. Then DICK GRAYSON appears, hot on his trail, sprinting up the steps two at a time.


Ancient and creepy. A huge pipe organ, shattered stained glass windows, row after row of mahogany pews… all forgotten, covered with dust and cobwebs. The JOKER wanders about, staring at the statuary, the rusted icons.

DICK enters silently behind him. He kneels behind a rear pew, brings up the GUN, and squeezes off THREE QUICK SHOTS at the JOKER. The JOKER dives, takes cover, and RETURNS DICK'S FIRE. Then: silence.

In a crouch, groping his way along the wall, THE JOKER finds what he wants: a small door opening on a wooden stairway, leading to belltower. He ducks inside and starts up.

DICK'S GUN drops with a thud. His hand slips from the back of the pew. In the second before he slumps to the floor, unconscious, he sees a curious sight: a TINY BLACK NINJA WHEEL, embedded in the flesh of his leg.

Behind him -- framed in the arched doorway -- A RAGGED BLACK GHOST begins his final unholy march down the center aisle of the old cathedral.
That would be the Batman. And apparently he’s stuck Dick Grayson with a ninja wheel. Perhaps the Joker has also shot Dick, perhaps not. Perhaps the ninja wheel is drugged. That’ll teach the kid the danger of using guns!

The Batman follows the Joker up the tower. They have a fight that involves fainting, the helicopter, a time bomb, a collapsing staircase, and a flock of bats. The Joker dies. Because killing someone with a bomb or by causing him to fall from a helicopter is clearly better than shooting him.

For a moment it appears Bruce Wayne is also dead, having sacrificed himself to kill the Joker (and his helicopter pilot, and co-pilot, and possibly Dick Grayson from lack of blood).

But instead the dead man is just the character eventually played by Robert Wuhl, so no great loss. The denouement scenes include Vicki Vale and Bruce in a pool together, and then:

DICK GRAYSON stands at the brink of the bottomless pit and looks up at the GYMNAST'S RINGS suspended overhead. He sets his jaw and then -- with only a moment's hesitation -- LEAPS INTO THE VOID.

His hands find the rings. He launches himself HIGH INTO THE AIR and does a spectacular TRIPLE SOMERSAULT, catching the rings on his way down.

Exhilarated, he makes a perfect landing on the edge of the pit. A SMILE OF PLEASURE comes to his lips.



A dark, moonless night. LIGHTS OF THE CITY sparkle in the distance. CAMERA DRIFTS across the rooftop, settling finally on the broad back of a BLACK-CAPED FIGURE poised at the edge of the roof, gazing down on the streets below.

A SECOND FIGURE enters frame. We get a brief glimpse of his RED-AND-GREEN SUIT in the seconds before our EYES TURN SKYWARD... to the SEARING YELLOW SPOTLIGHT sweeping through the clouds. In its center: the VAST BLACK SILHOUETTE of a BAT, wings extended, DOMINATING the sky.

We HOLD on the GLARING BAT-SIGNAL as BATMAN and ROBIN vanish over the edge of the roof, plunging down toward new adventures as we...

But none of those scenes made it into the 1989 movie. As Hamm explained to Comics Alliance, after many requests to include Robin in the screenplay, the producers decided his scenes were too expensive and took them all out.

Batman was a huge hit nonetheless. And the immediate plans for a sequel gave Hamm another chance to introduce Robin, the Boy Wonder.

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