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Holy incompatibility, Batman! Could Robin appear in 'Dark Knight Rises'?

Spoiler warning: Possible clues to events in "The Dark Knight Rises" follow. A goofy sidekick who spews eye-rolling catchphrases has no place in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises.” Although the campy Dick Grayson (aka Robin) doesn't fit with Nolan’s gritty franchise, fanboys and fangirls still ceaselessly search through featurettes, trailers and TV spots for the slightest of clues that Robin will be a part of the series’ finale.

While it is indeed possible that the Boy Wonder could show up in “Rises,” he’d be altered so substantially to fit the film’s dark, epic tone that he’d be nearly unrecognizable as his comical comic book self. The young, acrobatic sidekick was a more serious character during the so-called Golden Age of Batman from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Yet, soon thereafter, he was given a campy demeanor, “Holy (fill in the blank), Batman!” exclamations and a jubilant youthfulness that has defined his character to this day.

Cue Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the baby-faced star of “(500) Days of Summer.” His "Dark Knight Rises" role as police officer John Blake could be Robin’s daytime identity  -- at least, that's what Mark Hughes’ Forbes piece claims. Yet Hughes’ contentions are on less than solid ground. Among other things, he believes the bat-shaped chalk symbols shown in the featurette are drawn by Gordon-Levitt’s character; and, because of their vague resemblance to the Nightwing emblem (another of Robin’s identities) and the fact that, when flipped upside down, the chalk looks slightly like a robin, John Blake therefore must be Robin. “Mind. Blown.” he writes.

Likewise, a well-circulated freeze-frame from the trailer shows fans of the fictional Gotham Rogues football team holding a “Rogue” sign with the “R” in the same shape as the “R” on DC’s “Robin” comic books. For many, this is ironclad evidence of Robin’s existence in the “Rises” world. Empire Online, however, was quick to note, “most of (the extras) brought their own props and costumes,” so the sign could be just one individual's design choice.

Then again, Gordon-Levitt seems like too major of an actor to simply play an idealistic cop, a relatively minimal part.

It’s generally agreed that if Robin were to show up in “Rises” he would be in the form of his Golden Age self: a useful, responsible assistant to Batman and his fight against evil -- embodied by Tom Hardy’s Bane in “Rises.” A dorky, catchphrase-rattling Robin wouldn't fly.

While it’d be essentially impossible to fully develop the Robin mythos in one movie (even one pushing three hours, as "Dark Knight Rises" does), his introduction here would allow Warner Bros. to create a spin-off franchise.

If there’s one sturdy clue that Robin might show up, it’s the fact that his character can be later mined for profit in subsequent films.

"The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20.

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