Justice League: War started a brand new timeline for DC's animated movie universe and Damian Wayne has already been introduced to Batman. After a wee bit of drama, the Dark Knight's son has become Robin and is remaining with his father instead of returning to the League of Assassins with his mother, Talia al Ghul. We know the next Batman animated movie, Batman vs. Robin, will draw inspiration from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's The Court of Owls and, given the title, likely pull elements from Grant Morrison's Batman vs. Robin. Even though the title implies a huge conflict between the father and his son, this movie will more than likely also grow their connection to each other. Whatever the reason for their clash may be, it's probable they'll walk away from the conflict closer than ever before. Assuming the upcoming animated project does expand the father-son dynamic (and it does seem like a fair assumption, doesn't it?), that would Damian's eventual death far more compelling.
In the comics (BATMAN INCORPORATED), Grant Morrison violently killed the child he and Andy Kubert introduced to the world back in 2006. It was an elaborate conflict between Talia and Batman which brought in a huge number of supporting characters. From members of Batman Incorporated to Jason Todd to even the mighty Bat-Cow, the story was packed with faces that have been previously developed in several comics. The villain who took the kid's life is a beast named Heretic, a big and brutal clone of Damian. Seeing as DC's new animated universe is still young, a "Death of Robin" animated movie probably won't have Tim Drake, Batman Incorporated (this would be cool to see, but it might make the movie too crowded), or Jason Todd, but all that really matters is the dynamic between Talia, Batman and Damian. Given how Son of Batman ended, there's so many ways they can make this story work.
Son of Batman concludes with Talia allowing Damian to stay with his father, but she promises to rebuild the League of Assassins. Ra's al Ghul's daughter says she'll make it "stronger" and "better" and states she'll one day come back for her son; she expects Batman to make him great. The first animated movie could be all about her return and her diabolical plan now that she's rebuilt the League of Assassins and made it more powerful than ever before. Could she want Damian to replace his father? And could she have a clone of him who serves as muscle and a back-up plan? There's so many possibilities to take the basics from Morrison's story and take it in slightly different directions. Talia didn't play a big role in Son of Batman, so this could rectify that and make her seem incredibly formidable.
As for the Heretic, the idea of a strong and huge clone of Damian is by no means too out-there for this animated universe. We've had ninja Man-Bats, a pool of liquid that has restoration properties, and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis will show the underwater city does exist (and hopefully make Aquaman all kinds of awesome). When you have magic pools and giant bats with swords, clones really don't seem all that far-fetched, do they? While Talia can offer a gripping and more emotional finale with Batman, Herectic will be there for the jaw-dropping, vicious action and the stunning reveal that it's a clone of Damian under that helmet; something that is sure to shock casual fans.
Having a story inspired by the death of Robin will not only show Talia's potential as a villain and offer an emotionally-driven ride with Damian and his father, but it'll also give Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing, some time to shine! The agile character felt very underused in Son of Batman and his relationship with Damian is a great one. Now, they can't rush a bunch of history between these two, but they can show some progression in how they view each other and it could all buildup to their savage encounter with Heretic. And then there's Alfred, a character who has lovable and hilarious conversations with Batman's child. Having Alfred give Damian a cat, just like in Morrison's comic, would be heartwarming. Son of Batman showed they can make talks between these two enjoyable, so this movie could expand on that, creating more humor while also showing just how much closer they've become.
As for Robin's return, that could provide non-stop popcorn entertainment and basically be the ultimate dose of fan service for Batman fans. Whether the Chaos Shard will simply bring Damian back to life or bring him back and give him super-powers is their call (the former would be easier given their limited amount of releases), but this story would be a total blast. In the comics, Batman went through the five stages of grief (something they could draw from in the opening) before accepting Damian's death. However, he learned that an object called the Chaos Shard has the potential to bring his son back to life. There's just one problem: it has been taken to Apokolips. Batman gears up -- stepping into an advanced piece of technology called the Hellbat suit -- and brings the fight to the alien planet.No matter what is in his way, his new armor allows him to take it down. Considering we saw a bit of Apokolips and Darkseid was harshly defeated back in Justice League: War, this would be the perfect way to follow-up with this world and the iconic villain. This would also give them another opportunity to use Cyborg!
In Justice League: War, Darkseid's role was limited to smashing, punching, screaming, and even more smashing and screaming. While his role in this story primarily exists for one big and epic battle with Batman, it does give the animated universe a chance to give the cosmic threat a little more depth. They can flesh him out with some additional dialogue and tease a bigger plan that he may have in store for Earth. Assuming Kalibak is included, this displays more of the situation on Apokolips, too. The death of Robin expands Batman's world, but Bruce Wayne's struggle to bring his son back to life can help expand the cosmic mythos.
The movie will also show viewers Batman like they've never seen him before. Sure, casual fans have seen the hero be a badass plenty of times before, but this is going over-the-top in such a fun way. Watching Batman wear a spiffy new armor and unleash against an entire army could be a huge crowd-pleaser. His conflict with Darkseid -- assuming it's handled well like it was in the comic -- could be unforgettable and every bit as thrilling as his brawl with Superman over in The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2. Speaking of which, that's exactly how they could handle the release of these stories. If a title like Batman: The Death of Robin, Part 1 (and Part 2 at a later date) doesn't get Batman fans to purchase an animated movie, I just don't know what will.
The death of Robin could immerse viewers in Batman's evergrowing world and deliver an action-packed and powerful narrative. Yes, viewers would know Robin's death is inevitable, but assuming it's handled well (just like in the comic), it can still be a profound scene. Robin's death in the comics was spoiled before the issue went on sale, yet Morrison and Chris Burnham still managed to make it an impactful development. Then, Batman's seemingly impossible mission to bring his son back to life can deliver an enormous amount of cheer-worthy and exciting action while also giving DC's biggest villain a little more of the spotlight.
It seems like the current plan is one Justice League movie, one Batman movie, and one non-canon movie per year, so the amount of stories they can tell every year is obviously limited (unless that plan changes, of course). I'm sure many of us wouldn't mind seeing Batman stories like The Killing Joke, Hush, The Long Halloween or Knightfall become animated movies in the years to come, but eventually, the death and return of Damian Wayne needs to happen. The story arcs have the potential to expand the DC animated universe, generate huge amounts of fun and hit us with just the right amount of emotion. There's plenty of great Batman stories out there and we're anxious to see what'll come next, but the death and return of Damian Wayne absolutely has what it takes to become two very awesome animated movies.
Would you like to see two animated movies inspired by the death and return of Damian Wayne or would you rather see them focus on other Batman stories?