I'm kind of stealing this idea from Jett over at batmanonfilm.com. Its a great site for fans of the caped crusader. In this article, he talks about the end of Nolan's Batman trilogy and whether or not it will be considered the "definitive" Batman story.
I already consider it so. I was a huge fan of the Burton films. And I've read many of the classic comics. The comics are great. But its hard to beat experiencing it on film. And while Burton's films were fun, they don't stack up to Nolan's. So when I think Batman I think Nolan, Bale and co. And TDKR would have to be a catastrophic letdown in order for me to not see the Nolan trilogy as THE Batman story.
But Jett has a really interesting question. How can a Batman story be definitive without Robin? He doesn't get into the meat of his answer in that article. He is saving it for part 2. But I wanted to be a dick and take the idea and tackle it myself. The reason you don't hear people clamoring for Robin in TDKR like they do for certain villains is the Schumaker films are still fairly fresh in people's memories. And Robin was just not a good character in those films. Many people thought he was a big contributor to the lack of effectiveness of the films. And beyond those films, people don't really have a good grasp of who Robin is and why he important to the Batman universe.
But as Jett points out, Robin is a huge part of Batman. He has been around for a really long time. So if a filmmaker were setting out to make a definitive Batman, Robin would have to be strongly considered. The obvious question then would be, is this Nolan's goal. We don't know. But I would guess that its not his explicit goal. I think he is first and foremost concerned with telling a compelling story centered around Bruce Wayne and Batman. That doesn't mean the story can't include Robin. But I don't think it would be necessary.
If Nolan were to include Robin in TDKR I don't think it will be in an explicit manner. Meaning, I don't think we will see a young man in red and yellow tights fighting alongside Batman. If we do see Robin, I think it will be him as just another young man who happens to come into contact with Batman or one of the villains in some manner. And I think the most that will be mentioned of him is something in passing, kind of like how Fox mentioned cats when talking about the new armor in TDK.
Or another way I can see it is him being part of that group of guys who dressed as Batman early in TDK to try and help the real Batman, those guys in the hockey pads. Perhaps they make another appearance and instead of sucking one of them is really good at fighting the bad guys. And perhaps Batman takes notice and says something like, "Not bad kid. Maybe you should be my sidekick." after the young man takes out a villain before Batman can get to him.
I think that would be a fun way of acknowledging the character without disturbing the plot in order to force in a cameo of sorts. And it would be a nice way to leave something open for whoever takes the reigns of the franchise after Nolan is finished. But even if Nolan decides not to include Robin or some of the more well known villains I think he will succeed in making this the definitive Batman story. I can't wait to see how it turns out.