It took just 53 seconds of frenetic fighting for Ryan Potter to convince much of the Internet he should be the next Robin.
The Big Hero 6 star posted a fight scene to YouTube on Saturday that quickly went viral, with it nearing the 500,000 view mark on YouTube. The fight scene, shot and choreographed in just three-and-a-half-hours, is ostensibly Potter’s audition reel for Ben Affleck, who is set to star in and direct a standalone Batman film for Warner Bros.
But for Potter, it’s much bigger than the chance to put himself out there to play Tim Drake/Robin in film. The actor, who is of Japanese and Caucasian descent, hoped to spark a conversation about diversity and representation in Hollywood.
“This was really just to start that dialogue, and it’s clearly done so,” Potter tells Heat Vision. “In the [YouTube] comments, I see time and time again, ‘I don’t want to see an Asian Tim Drake,’ and other people go, ‘Hey, he’s also half-Caucasian.’ On the other end of the spectrum, I see people say, ‘Oh my God, he looks just like him. We need him as Tim Drake.’ That’s exactly what I wanted to happen.”
Potter has been in auditions where he was told he was either “too white” or “too Asian” for a part.
Potter says a few years ago, someone brought up the idea of him playing the first Robin, Dick Grayson, and then someone else suggested Tim Drake. Potter, a lifelong comics fan, Googled Drake and noticed that he bears a resemblance to the character.
“Marvel has done a really amazing job lately of adding a lot more diversity to their universe. One thing I noticed about the DC universe is it’s very one note at the moment in terms of age and diversity,” says Potter. “I thought it would be absolutely amazing to see an Asian-American face in that cast.”
“I fall into this paradox where ‘either you get a little too much of this or a little too much of that,’ ” says Potter, who notes the Batman universe does feature a prominent character who is half-Asian, half-Caucasian: Bruce Wayne’s son Damian Wayne.
“If Damian Wayne isn’t necessarily going to be in the next film, I don’t see why we can’t suspend our disbelief of mixed Asian descent when an actor like Jim Sturgess can play a Korean man in a film like Cloud Atlas, says Potter.
Little is known about the upcoming Batman film, other than that Joe Manganiello has been cast as the villain Deathstroke. It’s not known if Tim Drake will appear in the film (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice established that original Robin Dick Grayson existed I the universe but has died). While Potter is happy his video has sparked a conversation about representation, he also doesn’t want to see the DCEU braintrust attacked online.
A lot of people are tweeting at Ben and Zack [Snyder] and Geoff [Johns], and they’re saying, ‘Hey if you don’t cast him, this and that is going to happen,’ ” says Potter. “I’m like, ‘No, no, guys. Thank you for the response so far, but at the end of the day they are going to make choices based on what they feel is artistically and creatively right.’ “