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The DCU Really Needs To Get Damian Wayne’s Casting Right

Damian Wayne running near green smoke

Months after the announcement that James Gunn and Peter Safran would head the film/gaming side of DC, Gunn presented us with some of the many projects in their 8 to 10-year plan. This first chapter (not phase) entitled Gods & Monsters, features a slew of animated and live-action stories. To introduce the new Batman (Matt Reeves’ will remain separate), DC is making a Brave and the Bold film. This means we are getting Bruce Wayne and Damian Wayne! In this announcement, Gunn noted that this would be the first introduction to building the Bat-family onscreen.

Damian Wayne and Batman Bruce Wayne
Frank Quietley, DC

Damian Wayne is not the first or most recent person to take on the mantle of Robin, but he’s the only one that is biologically related to Batman. He was depicted as a child in 1987 and was officially canonized in 2006. A the child of The League of Assassins (TLOA) anti-hero Talia al Ghul (therefore the grandson of Ra’s Al Ghul) and local Gotham vigilante Bruce Wayne, Damian has many integrations. However, the most common (and one they’ll likely go with) is that Talia hid her pregnancy. Here she raised him with TLOA and away from Bruce/Batman. Damian is a sort of surprise to Bruce as they were introduced when Damian is somewhere between the age of eight and twelve.

Gunn noted that this story is based on Grant Morrison‘s take on the character. While overall, the story is loved, it did kick off a dicey history regarding Damian’s conception that a handful of writers kept. In Morrison’s story, Talia drugs Bruce and has non-consensual sex. Whether or not that element is carried into the live-action film or not, everything before Damian’s birth lays the groundwork for a very complicated character. While I’m not sure if his name is directly tied to the antichrist in The Omen franchise, I can say the character was created a decade later and is a fitting name for the son of Batman and Talia. In some iterations, he’s called Ibn al Xu’ffasch (Arabic for “Son of The Bat”).

Proper Damian casting

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures
(Starbite, DC/Webtoon)

Personality wise, Damian is the type of kid that is very rich, and very talented, and he knows it. While he’s firmly a hero, Damian’s definitely an asshat. Someone I love to hate and watch Alfred put him in his place. Much of Damian’s personality is shaped by his experience raised by TLOA. Because he’s so young, the character slowly opens up to some things but remains more stubborn than his dad in other ways. While many are familiar with a brooding Batman and quippy Robin, the dynamic between Damian and his father feels reversed in many circumstances.

One part of Damian that’s under-explored but very much a part of this character is his identity as a person of mixed heritage. Contrary to the casting choices of the past, Talia and Ra are SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa). Because they were created as a mix mash of orientalist tropes, there’s no commonly agreed upon place of origin. Unfortunately, even pinning down a place too specifically undercuts parts of the Ghul’s story as the TLOA’s shadowy nature —which is a mainstay in orientalism.

Unlike Dick Grayson, Damian is SWANA in all stories and the casting should reflect that. Additionally, it would be great to see Damian actually speak Arabic or Farsi (as well as many other languages since he was raised among assassins). It’s just as important to his character as his age and leaves even more space for Warner Bros. Discovery to cast an unknown.

(featured image: Melnikov/DC)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.