Akiva Goldsman wanted to go back to the original “parallel tragedies” of Batman and Robin. Both lost their parents at the hands of criminals, and both were moved to take up crime-fighting as a result. This was to stand in direct contrast to Burt Ward’s pure-hearted rendition of the character who was so wholesome as to be comedic. It was also to make up for the various Robins who have been murdered over the years, notably Justin Todd, a Robin who was beaten to death with a crowbar. Goldsman said:
“Dick Grayson is really a very interesting character; one of the most maligned characters in the Batman series. Robin is killed over and over again in the comic books, in his various identities. But the truest and purest Robin, I think, will always be Dick Grayson. Here is a young man whose tragedy very clearly echoes young Bruce Wayne’s, and again, we tried to make that emotional scenario more authentic to both characters while keeping the heightened comedy, drama and fun of the comic books.”
Joel Schumacher’s solution was to turn Robin from a boy wonder into a bitter young man of about 21. This was a Robin who already tooled around on a motorcycle and could drink in biker bars. Batman, then, wouldn’t serve as a stand-in father figure for Robin, but more as an older brother. Besides, Batman’s butler Alfted (Michael Gough) already filled the role of ersatz father. The brotherly dynamic would allow for a more bickersome relationship between the heroes, as well as place them more as equals.