Batman and Robin have spent over 70 years together and, like most long-lasting relationships, things haven’t always been smooth sailing between the world’s most iconic crime-fighting duo. In fact, things have been downright weird at times. The Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder first teamed up in Detective Comics #38 in 1940. Batman is said to be heavily influenced by the exploits of Zorro on-screen, and similarly, Robin’s namesake and costume are thought to have been taken from the movies too — Eroll Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. Dick Grayson served as Bruce Wayne’s original Robin before graduating to his new, adult alter-ego, Nightwing. He was followed by Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown (for about a minute) and most recently, Damian Wayne.
As well as feeling the healthy need to spread his wings, Dick’s urge to fly the nest may also have come from years upon years of wildly inappropriate creepiness between himself and his mentor. The Golden, Silver and even Bronze Ages are infamous for their ridiculousness, and it’s all too easy for certain panels to become hilariously lewd when taken out of context. It’s important to clarify that the “creepiness” of these moments isn’t to do with their unintended homoeroticism, because there’s nothing creepy about gay male relationships (unless you’re Frederic Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent.) What is creepy is the familial line between a foster parent and his underage ward being blurred by everything from “wobbly knees” to “boner” talk.
15. WHEN THEY MADE A SEESAW RIDE LOOK SUGGESTIVE
Sorry, Golden Age. Maybe it’s just us. Maybe we all just have filthy minds these days. But, then again, those poses they’ve been drawn in would be unmistakable in any time period, surely? This unfortunately suggestive image is taken from the cover of World’s Finest #68 from 1952. On it, Batman and Robin try — and pitifully fail — to weigh down the end of a playground seesaw against Superman.
See? You can take your mind out of the gutter because they’re exerting themselves to push a seesaw down, because… Superman is so heavy? Is he digging his heels into the ground? Is he using his super strength to push his butt into the seat? There are far too many awkward questions to do with this whole scenario. Let’s just assume this was the real inciting incident in Batman v Superman we never got to see.
14. TEETH MARKS ON A LEATHER THONG
Yes, you read that correctly. In this panel, taken from Batman #83 from 1954, Robin takes a moment during another daring mission to ask if Batman remembers “this leather thong?” And as a further reminder, “It still has your teeth marks in it!” You’d think Bruce really would remember something like that, wouldn’t you? Obviously, our minds instantly jump to something kinky, but what’s the actual context for this?
Well, first of all, it’s worth noting that “thong” doesn’t always mean underwear — it can also describe a thin strip of leather. Still a bit sexual though, right? The next panel dispels all that. Robin goes on to remind Batman that he used the “thong” to slide down a rope in a circus tent because “the mad clown tied up your hands.” Also, that’s not Batman. It’s someone impersonating him, hence why Robin is testing his memory.
13. IMPURE THOUGHTS?
You’ve probably seen (and laughed) at this panel before. Out of the context of its story, and with the double meaning of the word “touched” in the emotional and physical sense, it looks highly incriminating for the Caped Crusader. As the Leaguers think about all the special people in their lives that they have “touched,” their thoughts turn to girlfriends and wives. Not Batman, though. “Robin — what I have I done to you?”
Bruce is an infamous playboy, so maybe it actually makes sense that he’d think of his adopted sidekick instead. The panel comes from Justice League of America #44 from 1966, in a story called, “The Plague That Struck The League!” In the story, the heroes depicted here are told by the alien Dr. Benderoin that they have been infected by a highly contagious virus that will kill them — and everyone they’ve touched — in 10 hours.
12. HOSE ME DOWN
You’d think that by the time the Bronze Age rolled around, less of the unintentional innuendos between a man dressed as a bat and a little boy in tiny green shorts would be sneaking their way into panels. Not so much. It also turns out that it wasn’t just Dick Grayson who got the worst of it — this panel from a 1987 story stars his successor, Jason Todd.
Taken from Detective Comics #571, Batman decides to do the heroic thing and try to rescue a famous driver, Jack Hogan, out of his crashed, burning car. Jason reckons that this is probably a bad idea. “You can’t go after him, Batman! You’d be burned alive!” To which Batman responds, “Not if you keep hosing me down!” The kid is still freaked out, so Batman has to keep assuring him it’ll work, resulting in those poorly chosen words above.
11. KEEPING THE COSTUME ROBIN DIED IN
Keeping the remains of those you’ve loved and lost on display in your home is objectively a slightly morbid practice, but completely socially acceptable. Lots of people choose to keep ashes rather than scatter them. Some people even taxidermy their pets. But you know what would be considered creepy? Keeping the clothes your loved one died in on display in your home.
Batman has been through his fair share of loss — it’s kind of how he got into the whole “Batman” thing in the first place. He’s also no stranger to keeping the costumes of past sidekicks in the Batcave. He takes this to a whole new level of weird in Batman v Superman though, by keeping just one (visible) costume on display — that of his slain partner, covered in the words of his murderer. Bruce isn’t one to let go, is he?
10. THOSE NIPPLES AND CODPIECES
Campiness is a part of the Batman franchise’s history that many would probably rather forget, while others remember fondly. Most of that kind of tonality had been rinsed out of the comics by the time the mid-’90s came around. Apparently, though, no-one had given that note to director Joel Schumacher, who seemed to embrace the homoerotic potential of the Dynamic Duo wholeheartedly.
With the relationship and age difference between Batman and Robin being much different in Batman & Robin, the problematic relationship stuff was no longer a problem, really. If anything, it kind of makes sense. The nipples and exaggerated codpieces added to the suits? Not so much. “The bodies of the suits come from ancient Greek statues, which display perfect bodies,” Schumacher explained. “They are anatomically correct.”
9. WHEN THEY SHARED A BEDROOM
Whenever discussions about the questionable nature of Batman and Robin’s relationship are had, this panel is usually the first to be cited. Taken from 1954’s Batman #84, it features cameos from Catwoman, some “Giant Bees” and a villain named “Slug.” But, the thing that sticks in readers’ minds the most is this one throwaway image of Bruce and Dick waking up… in the same bedroom.
It’s necessary to point out that, no — they’re not sharing a bed, as many mistakenly think. You can distinctly make out a gap in the backboard, meaning that, though they are sleeping unusually close together for an adult guardian and his teen ward, they’re not in bed together. Some claim it wasn’t uncommon for families to share bedrooms in the ’50s, so maybe it just jars with our modern sensibilities.
8. COMPETING FOR THE SAME WOMEN
Imagine if you and your Dad tried to hit on the same person at the same time. Or — even worse — if your Dad knocked up your other half! It’s gross, right? While Bruce and Dick aren’t related, Dick is really as much of a son to him as Damien, having been raised by the billionaire playboy from a young age. And they’ve been through both of these icky scenarios in alternate continuities.
First, there’s that scene in Batman & Robin in which the pair engage in an embarrassing, drug-fuelled bidding war to “buy” Poison Ivy. Since their relationship is far less familial, it’s thankfully not quite as weird as it would have been in the comics. In Batman Beyond 2.0, things get incestuous within the Bat Family when we discover that Barbara is pregnant with Bruce’s baby, even though she’s dating Dick. Let’s just say Dick doesn’t take the news well.
7. BATMAN USED TO WEAR ROBIN’S COSTUME
No, Bruce doesn’t sneak down to the Batcave every night and stuff his man-body into a teen-sized cape and boots. This one isn’t quite that level of disturbing. In Detective Comics #226 from 1955, Batman reveals that the identity of the first Robin was actually… himself? In a story (creatively) titled, “When Batman Was Robin,” Batman receives his old Robin costume in the mail from his deceased mentor, Detective Harvey Harris.
Bruce explains that, for some strange reason, he donned the costume and mantle in order to become the secret apprentice of the Detective. If you don’t think it’s creepy that Batman forced his foster kid to wear the exact same clothes that he wore as a teenager, just imagine a pageant mom making her little girl compete in her old pageant clothes. It’s kind of the same thing.
It’s possibly the most infamous case of modern-day slang ruining an innocent, old Golden Age comic ever. Batman #66, “The Joker’s Comedy Of Errors,” was released in 1951, but is better known by the name, “Batman’s Greatest Boner.” Back in those days, “boner” meant “mistake” or “blunder.” Today, of course, the word is commonly-used slang for… well, you already know what.
This means that panels from these “52 Big Pages” that feature Robin asking Batman, “How can he force you into a boner?” and Batman suggesting that he and Robin continue their “study of the greatest boners of all time,” look instantly like Batman X Robin rather than Batman & Robin. And Bruce forcing his underage charge to look through a library of dick pics might be grounds for Alfred to call child protection services.
5. BABY BATMAN
Titled, “Batman Becomes Bat-Baby,” believe it or not, this bizarre premise was presented as “Story Of The Year!” on the front cover. Appearing in Batman #47 in 1962, Batman was — as billed — shrunken down into the body of a 4-year-old by a mad scientist (who else?) Much like in Detective Conan, he still retained all of his adult intelligence and strength, even fashioning a custom smaller costume so that he could continue to fulfill his crime-fighting duties.
Weirdly, his new moniker, “Bat-Baby” still seems to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, which is just a testament to the fearsome reputation Bats has built up over the years. Robin seems to adapt to this curious predicament surprisingly well, too. Can you imagine being an orphaned kid whose surrogate father suddenly became a toddler? That’s a lot to deal with.
4. ROBIN “EXPOSES HIMSELF”
No, that’s not a misquote. In a panel in Batman #81 from 1954, Robin sits on a rooftop one evening, controlling the Batplane by remote. “There’s Batman — and I’ve landed the plane the way he wanted. Now I’m to stay here and expose myself!” Well, the effect might be lost without an audience there, Dick. Obviously, this isn’t really a story about Robin doing a striptease under Batman’s instruction.
It’s actually an elaborate ruse to protect their secret identities. In the story titled, “The Boy Wonder Confesses!” Dick reveals his superhero identity in school, leading the press to speculate that his adoptive dad, Bruce Wayne, must be Batman. This remotely controlled plane malarky was all part of Batman’s plan to prove there was no link between Dick Grayson and Robin, and Bruce Wayne and Batman.
3. ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN
Depending on your Batman opinions, Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder will either make you laugh, groan or a combination of the two. Retelling the origin story of the dynamic duo, Miller pushes Batman’s character to the extreme: ultra-violent, cruel, bitter and abusive. Unfortunately, it’s a twelve-year-old kid who just witnessed the murder of his parents that bears the brunt of this abuse.
Determined to make a “soldier” out of the boy, Bruce begins his training by dumping the grieving child in the Batcave with only bats and rats for sustenance. The rest involves beating and berating him into fighting shape like a drill sergeant, only realizing he may have gone a little overboard when an over-zealous Robin nearly kills Green Lantern. Sure, the method is effective, but it’s essentially child abuse.
2. WOBBLY KNEES
Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. Out of context, this superficially innocent turn of phrase from Batman just sounds far too post-coital. It’s also not helped by the tight grip Batman’s teen sidekick has on his arm as he leads his partner away. Where are they speeding off to after whatever just happened? A cold shower? Breakfast?
So, clearly what Batman is actually referring to in this Golden Age-era panel isn’t anything smutty. Seeing as it appears that the Dynamic Duo have just exited some kind of portal or nausea-inducing trap, Bruce is likely suffering from the same aftereffects you get after you step off a particularly volatile theme park ride, and Robin is just helping to steady him.
1. WHEN ROBIN AMBUSHED BATMAN IN THE SHOWER
If superhero media has proven anything, it’s that the shower is a great place to ambush people. Batman himself proved that in Justice League Unlimited when he snuck into Amanda Waller’s bathroom to try and intimidate her. But, assaulting your naked, wet foster parent in the shower is both intimidating and creepy, as Robin proved in this storyline from Batman #356, first published in 1982.
In Dick’s defense, this isn’t even him. It’s actually a robo-Robin created by Hugo Strange. In fact, this isn’t even a real Wayne Manor bathroom, either. It’s another forgery by Strange — the result of months of meticulous planning after deciding that, “If Hugo Strange can’t be Batman, no-one can!” You have to give props to Strange for effort. He even accurately replicated that famous Dick Grayson butt in robot form.
Are there any other Batman and Robin moments that you find creepy? Let us know in the comments!
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