Zack Snyder has confirmed - well, corrected actually - a fan theory put forward by an eagle-eyed viewer of Justice League: Batman V. Superman.
There were various little clues sprinkled throughout the film suggesting that Ben Affleck’s grizzled Batman had once palled around with Robin, but that things hadn’t worked out well for the Boy Wonder. A Robin-esque suit in a glass case bore the spray-painted legend “HAHAH, joke’s on you BATMAN”, suggesting Robin had been killed by the Joker. This in turn suggested the story had taken inspiration from the infamous comic book story ‘A Death in the Family’, where a public vote (where readers could ring a 1-800 number) decided whether Jason Todd, the second Robin, would survive being beaten with a crowbar by the Joker or not. Readers weren’t keen on poor Jason, and he kicked the bucket. It was pretty dramatic.
(In the comics, Todd later became a villain known as the Red Hood. When images of Jared Leto’s tattooed Joker in Suicide Squad came out, fans speculated that he might in fact be a villainous Todd, but this was debunked by that film’s director David Ayer.)
Affleck’s Batman is suggested to have been, er, Batmanning for about 20 years when the film is set, with Robin dead for a decade or so.
Now a keen-eyed viewer of the 2016 film has received confirmation of a theory from Zack Snyder himself. Approaching the director on Vero (which Snyder is really into using), Fiona Zheng asked whether the motorbike seen in the background of a scene in the Batcave was a nod to the comic Batman: Year Zero.
Snyder replied, pointing out that in fact, it was left over from the days of Robin, a memento mori in Bruce Wayne’s Batcave and constant reminder of when he failed to protect his protege.
How it’s all going to pan out for Batfleck remains unknown - he’ll be back on screen in Justice League this summer, but his solo outing has gone through a few hiccups so far (including Affleck himself stepping aside as director).
When it finally does happen, it’s said to be more of a detective story than action movie - fans have suggested that the ‘Under the Red Hood’ storyline (where a revived Todd returns with a vendetta against Batman, livid at his failure to kill the Joker in vengeance) could be perfect for it, as Batman’s ongoing guilt at Todd’s death is such a key part of it. Time will tell.