The Dark Knight is an unstoppable force. The bad guys usually don’t stand a chance against his intellect, combat expertise, and arsenal of expensive toys. For decades, Batman has been kicking butt and taking names across Gotham City. But while the Caped Crusader began this daring venture with a little bit of pocket change, a dash of determination, and his very own vision, he hasn’t been alone in his superheroics.
Batman has enlisted the help of multiple sidekicks over the years — the most famous of which goes by the moniker of Robin. But even the position of Boy Wonder has been shared by multiple lads and even a red-headed young lass. So, that begs the question: Which of Batman’s plethora of sidekicks over the years is the best? Stick with us while we dive into Batman’s seven best sidekicks and rank them from a total liability to supremely bat-tastic.
Batman’s original young ward, Dick Grayson, grew out of the tights and the Boy Wonder schtick. He’d eventually want to lead a superhero life on his own terms, and that’s exactly what he did. When Dick graduated from Robin to Nightwing, Batman was left without a partner. So, he adopted a new teenage crime-fighter in the form of Jason Todd. He found this wayward boy on the streets attempting to steal the tires off of the Batmobile. Instead of scolding young Jason, he took him under his wing.
Jason is an aggressive fighter and isn’t endlessly boisterous and optimistic like his predecessor. In contrast to Dick’s quiet obedience, Jason never missed a moment to be snarky toward his mentor, which caused some fans to actively dislike him. The good folks at DC understood this and enacted an unforgettable storyline in 1988 where Jason’s life was put on the line. The Joker had nabbed the youngster and was beating him mercilessly. The Dark Knight raced to his rescue. However, it was up to the readers whether Jason lived or died. Fans had to call a number and place a vote. As history shows us, the results were pretty grim for Jason, though he would later be resurrected and return to Gotham as the vindictive and lethal vigilante Red Hood.
Perhaps one of Batman’s biggest champions in Gotham City is none other than police commissioner James Gordon. Because the Caped Crusader earned his trust, Gordon helps make Batman’s crusade possible by keeping the police force off his back regarding his perceived illegal activities. In many instances, Gordon has assisted Batman in some of the hero’s dangerous cases, putting his own life on the line.
Of course, crime-fighting in a city filled with crazed supervillains has its drawbacks. It all hit a bit close to home during The Killing Joke storyline written by famed comic book author Alan Moore. Joker attacks Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (who is also Batgirl), in her own home, leaving her paralyzed. He then captures the lawman himself and torments him with images of his injured daughter while maniacally beating him. While Joker’s goal was to break Gordon, it likely only solidified his furor and pursuit of justice in Gotham.
In 1989, following the death of Jason Todd, Tim Drake was bestowed the mantle of Robin. To modern readers and Batman fans, he is likely the most familiar Robin. Many of Batman’s biggest storylines in the 1990s, like Knightfall, featured Tim Drake as the Boy Wonder. After replacing Jason Todd, DC writers brought Tim Drake more in line with Dick Grayson’s persona. They even tied his earliest moments to Dick’s origins as a crime-fighter; in the quasi-retcon, Tim Drake was just a little boy sitting in the audience watching the Flying Graysons the day Dick lost his parents.
Tim would be heavily featured in the continuation of Batman: The Animated Series, dubbed The New Batman Adventures. He’s also the Robin of choice in the long-running DCEU series Young Justice. During video game developer Rocksteady’s trilogy of Batman: Arkham games, Tim was the current Robin aiding Batman in his fight to protect Gotham from Scarecrow. Without a doubt, Tim has earned his stripes as Robin, and later as superhero vigilante Red Robin.
While The Dark Knight Returns isn’t considered mainline canon by DC Comics, it is, perhaps, the greatest Batman story ever told. That is, in part, thanks to Frank Miller’s colorful cast of characters that all manage to pull their weight in the unfolding drama. Carrie Kelley isn’t the only female to ever don the Robin duds. Stephanie Brown briefly took on the title of Robin once it was vacated by Tim Drake. But Carrie is absolutely the most memorable Girl Wonder she aids the Dark Knight in his war against the Mutant gang and preventing Gotham from collapsing into chaos amid a Russian EMP attack.
The difference with Carrie is that Bruce didn’t find her — she found Bruce. Enamored by this aged vigilante who is aiming to vanquish the threat of the Mutant gang, she follows him and eventually saves him from certain death. From this point forward, she earns Batman’s trust and he always regards her as a “good soldier” doing what she knows to be right in the moment. Carrie is an important piece of the Batman legacy, and a worthy addition to the Batman Sidekick Hall of Fame.
Batman represents the virtue of justice. Morally, he draws a line in the sand that he never crosses for fear of the dam bursting wide open on all actions that are unsavory. However, Catwoman is one frequent partner that he remains conflicted over mostly due to her penchant for straddling the line between hero and full-blown criminal. Selina Kyle, the woman under the feline mask and jumpsuit, often lies to herself, stating she’s only looking after her own interests. But we know better.
Catwoman has a soft spot for the Dark Knight, and the two even have a romantic connection on many occasions. And while she often claims to not care about anyone else, she usually manages to do the right thing — even if she steals a few valuable items along the way. As a combatant, Catwoman is skilled, brutal, and formidable. There’s a reason she often slips through the fingers of both villains and Batman alike despite her fondness for the Caped Crusader. This ultimately makes her an important ally for Batman when the time arises and one-half of the spiciest Batman team-up.
It’d be difficult to not regard Dick Grayson’s Robin highly. After all, he is the original Boy Wonder and the other half of the famed Dynamic Duo. As Batman’s most famous partner, Dick has always had a good head on his shoulders. In all of his depictions, including comic books, television series like the 1960s Batman show or Batman: The Animated Series, and in film (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin), he is always depicted as loyal and a true apprentice to Bruce Wayne’s Batman.
A childhood as Robin prepared him for the day when he could strike it out on his own as Nightwing. Even then, he’d still bump shoulders with Batman on occasion in an effort to solve cases and fight bad guys. As a character, Dick Grayson is Batman’s oldest ally and a truly important one in Batman’s narrative.
At the top of our list is Damian Wayne — the latest and greatest Robin in the bunch. Created by famed comic book author Grant Morrison, Damian Wayne is, indeed, the son of Batman. However, Bruce was unaware of his existence for a decade. Raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne was trained from an extremely young age to defeat corruption as a killer within the League of Assassins.
When Batman took this child soldier under his wing as Robin, it became instantly clear that Damian had a problem with Batman’s methods. All of his life, he was trained to be led by his own instincts, and his instincts tell him that criminals must pay with their lives. He often challenges his father’s methods by his willingness to kill. However, throughout the course of his career as Robin, Damian eventually bonds with his father while slowly shedding his “League of Assassins” ideology. That’s ultimately what makes this multilayered character the most fascinating and effective ally Batman will ever have.
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