As the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin have the most enduring partnership in superhero fiction. For decades, the deep, abiding friendship between Batman and his young partner has been the focal point of countless stories from comics to film and beyond. Like any old friends, Batman and his various Robins have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years too. While most of their arguments have been fairly minor, the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder have come to blows every now and then.
Now, CBR is looking back at some of the biggest battles between Batman and Robin in comics, TV and film. In this hardly, comprehensive list we’ll be looking at times Batman absolutely destroyed Robin, as well as when Robin managed to pull out the win. Despite Batman’s experience, Robin has triumphed over the Dark Knight more often than you might think. While a surprising number of characters have held the mantle of Batman or Robin over the years, we’ll be focusing on the ones who had extended runs as those heroes. We’ll also be avoiding training sessions, where the two aren’t actually fighting, in favor of times when Batman and Robin have legitimately tried to harm, restrain or kill each other.
Since 2008, Batman’s biggest slap has been the stuff of Internet legend. As the “My Parents are Dead” meme, this panel of Batman unleashing a resounding slap on Robin has been traded around online countless times. While the context of the panel is usually ignored, the original story grounds the meme in a tragic story.
The “Bat-slap” was originally published in 1965’s World’s Finest #153, by Edmond Hamilton and Curt Swan. In the alternate reality tale, “The Clash of Cape and Cowl,” Bruce Wayne believed that a young Superman was responsible for his father’s death. Wayne became Batman to avenge his dad and adopted Dick Grayson, who became Robin. After Robin expressed his support for Superman, Batman slapped him and used the Crime Doctor’s hypnosis machine to erase his memory. With no acknowledgement towards Robin’s good works, Wayne sent his former ward to grow up in a Gotham City orphanage.
14. ROBIN’S FASTBALL SPECIAL
Although it’s largely been overshadowed by the success of Teen Titans Go!, Young Justice became a fan favorite with its serious take on the adventures of DC Comics’ teen heroes. In the 2012 season finale, “Auld Acquaintance,” several of those young heroes and sidekicks had to face off against their adult counterparts. Using mind-control technology derived from Starro alien biology, Vandal Savage and Klarion the Witch Boy sent Batman and the rest of the Justice League after Robin and Young Justice.
While the other heroes fought in the background, Batman clashed with Dick Grayson. Although Robin used his agility to counter Batman’s raw strength, he couldn’t avoid all of the Dark Knight’s blows. After landing near his teammate, Superboy swung Robin around so he could take out Batman with a single high-powered kick. After that left Batman unconscious, Grayson used kryptonite to help Superboy take down Superman too.
13. UNDER THE RED HOOD
After Dick Grayson grew up to become Nightwing, Jason Todd took his place as the second Robin. In Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo’s landmark 1988 story “A Death in the Family,” Todd’s short, troubled tenure as Robin came to an end when the Joker killed him. In 2005’s Batman #635, by Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke, Todd returned from the grave to menace Batman as the Red Hood.
After some reality-altering shenanigans and a dip in the restorative Lazarus Pit, Todd fought Gotham’s criminals with brutal, deadly methods. After kidnapping the Joker, Todd forced Batman to choose between shooting his former sidekick or killing the Joker once and for all. Thanks to his sharp reflexes, Batman found a third option and threw a Batarang that left Todd bleeding profusely on the ground. After this incident, the two patched things up and became occasional allies.
12. ROBIN’S INJUSTICE
After making his modern debut in 2006, Damian Wayne became an instant fan-favorite thanks to his role as the latest Robin. The son of Batman and Talia al Ghul has even jumped into some high-profiles roles outside of DC’s main universe. In the world of the blockbuster game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Damian Wayne sided with an insane Superman and his world-ruling regime.
As Tom Taylor and Mike Miller depicted in 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us #13, Damian accidentally killed Dick Grayson during a fight. Although he was horrified at the lost of his surrogate son, Batman tried to reach out to his biological child during one of their later clashes. After an adamant Damian ripped the “R” off of his costume, Batman knocked him out with a swift, harsh knee to the chest. After his recovery, Damian adopted Grayson’s mantle and became a new Nightwing.
11. ROBIN BREAKS GORDON’S LAW
While Bruce Wayne will be Batman forever, he’s been forced to take a leave of absence from the role on a few occasions. After the 2014 crossover “Batman: Endgame” took Bruce out of the action, Commissioner Jim Gordon donned an Iron Man-esque robo-suit to become Gotham City’s new Batman. Since he was still working with the Gotham City Police Department, Gordon’s Batman had a precarious relationship with Damian Wayne’s vigilante Robin.
During the 2015 crossover “Robin War,” teenagers across Gotham began operating as Robin-inspired vigilantes. When Gordon was sent to arrest a gathering of Robins, he found Damian trying to take control of the group. After a brief fight, Damian knocked Gordon out by plunging a live electrical wire into his armor in Robin War #1, by Tom King, Andres Guinaldo and Walden Wong. As if that wasn’t enough, Damian refused to shake Gordon’s hand after they both saved Gotham.
10. BATMAN VS. ROBIN: THE MOVIE
In 2015, Batman fought his son in the aptly-named DC Universe Animated Original Movie Batman vs. Robin. This moderately well-received direct-to-video feature loosely adapted “The Court of Owls,” Batman‘s first story major after 2011’s New 52 reboot. While the film and its comic book source material differ dramatically, bother revolve around the emergence of the Court of Owls, a secret society that ruled Gotham from behind the scenes.
After Talon, one of the Court’s agents, tried to convince Damian Wayne to join them, he forced Robin to go toe-to-toe against the Dark Knight. In the most brutal fight between Batman and Robin to ever appear on screen, the two martial arts masters battled across Gotham’s rooftops. Although Batman clearly held back, Damian got enough solid shots in to send Batman plummeting several stories down. Even though Batman tossed the match, Robin still walked away from the fight as the victor.
9. GRAYSON, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Given their mutual love of bats, putting Batman and Dracula together is an ingenious idea. When Doug Moench and Kelley Jones did that in 1991’s Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, they took the concept to its logical extreme by turning Batman into a vampire. In this alternate reality, this bloodthirsty Batman gave into his dark impulses and killed several characters, including Dick Grayson’s parents.
As Jones, Peter Johnson, Eric Battle and Angel Unzueta revealed in 2008’s Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Red Rain, this world’s Dick Grayson became a vampire hunter. Although Grayson was able to track Batman down to his layer, he hesitated before putting a stake through the vampire’s heart. Sensing his hesitation, Batman attacked Grayson with a vicious bite and turned him into a vampire too. Bound to Batman by tragedy and a hunger for blood, the undead Grayson became this world’s monstrous Robin.
8. ROBIN, THE SHOVEL KNIGHT
While Bruce Wayne was lost in the time stream during the late 2000s and early 2010s, the now-adult Dick Grayson took Batman’s cape and cowl for himself. Along with Damian Wayne’s Robin, Grayson’s well-received turn as Batman proved that there could be life after Bruce Wayne after all. Although Damian and Dick formed a tight bond, they were turned against each other in one of their earliest adventures.
In 2010’s Batman and Robin #10-12, by Grant Morrison and Andy Clarke, Talia al Ghul took control of Damian, her son, using a device she had implanted in his spine. Guided by the movements of Deathstroke the Terminator, Robin attacked Batman with a shovel in a graveyard. After realizing that Deathstroke’s nervous system was linked to Robin’s, Dick shocked Damian in the heart. While the jolt was too much for Slade, Damian recovered after catching his breath.
7. ROBIN TIES BATMAN DOWN
After Jason Todd was killed, Tim Drake became a new Robin for the 1990s. While he was more intellectual than his comic predecessors, Drake’s Robin was more of a composite character in the DC Animated Universe. In The New Batman Adventures, Drake’s Robin was a younger version of the character that incorporated a few elements of Jason Todd’s version of the Boy Wonder.
Despite his youth, Drake’s Robin was still able to restrain Batman in the 1997 episode, “Never Fear.” After being dosed with a new version of Scarecrow’s gas, all of Batman’s fear was removed. After he started acting recklessly and left a low-level criminal to die, Robin snared Batman with a grappling hook. Although Batman tried to talk his way out, Robin saw through his lies and took off in the Batwing to face the Scarecrow alone in one of his first major moments in the cartoon.
6. CATWOMAN’S SIDEKICK, ROBIN
While Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin might have seemed like the friendliest of super-friends, they faced off against each other on Batman in 1967. In “That Darn Catwoman,” Julie Newmar’s Catwoman and Leslie Gore’s Pussycat used a mind-altering substance called “Cataphrenic” to invert Robin’s personality and make him their new accomplice.
When Batman tried to foil one of the crew’s robberies, Robin attacked Batman under Catwoman’s orders. In the truly outrageous fight scene that followed, Robin unleashed a flurry of punches. Although Batman raised a fist in protest, he couldn’t attack his old chum. Robin didn’t have that problem, so he sent Batman to the ground with a few more blows. Finally, Robin gave Batman a WWE-esque smackdown by breaking a flimsy wooden chair over his head. Although Robin was arrested for his crimes, he was released from jail after an antidote got him feeling like himself again.
Before Batman and Superman started fighting so frequently, they had one of the world’s finest friendships. Since Dick Grayson’s Robin was present for so many of those adventures, he saw Superman’s abilities up close. In Superman/Batman #55, by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Rags Morales, Grayson experienced the fury of Superman’s abilities first-hand thanks to a crazed Batman.
In the 2009 story, “Super-Bat,” a curse made Batman and Superman switch powers. While Superman settled into life as a human, an increasingly unhinged Batman used Superman’s abilities to attack criminals. After he attacked Catwoman, Dick Grayson’s Nightwing surprised Batman with a kick that he felt, even with his newfound invulnerability. Although one of Nightwing’s Escrima sticks threw Batman off balance, the Dark Knight pummeled his former sidekick with heat vision and super-speed attacks. Alfred noted that Dick had multiple fractures and even lost a few teeth before the power-switch curse was undone.
4. ROBIN FIGHTS THE FUTURE
In addition to inheriting Dick Grayson’s role as Robin, Tim Drake also took on Robin’s traditional place in the Teen Titans. In 2004, the young Titans got a look at dark possible future versions of themselves in the well-reviewed storyline “Titans Tomorrow.” Starting in Teen Titans #17, by Geoff Johns and Mike McKone, the Titans explored a world where the team’s internal divisions split the United States in two and turned the West Coast into a police state.
In this dark world, Tim Drake became Batman after Bruce Wayne’s death. Using the gun that killed Wayne’s parents, Drake’s Batman executed every criminal in Gotham. Robin was horrified when he discovered this, so Batman kidnapped him and tried to erase his memories of the incident. When Batman reached for his gun, Robin whipped out his signature bo staff and knocked his older self unconscious.
3. ROBIN’S KILLING STRIKE
In 1986, Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns created a dark alternate reality where Batman used the kind of brutal methods that might seem downright evil in another context. As Miller and Jim Lee detailed in All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, that world’s Batman indoctrinated a young Dick Grayson with harsh tactics that included making him forage for food in the Batcave.
In 2008’s All-Star Batman & Robin #9, an undisciplined Robin inadvertently followed Batman’s lead and almost killed the Green Lantern. When the Lantern confronted Batman about the alleged kidnapping of Dick Grayson, Robin playfully started fighting Hal Jordan in an all-yellow room that neutralized his powerful ring. After Robin accidentally broke Jordan’s windpipe, Batman slammed his sidekick into a wall, berated him and left him woozy with a powerful punch. Despite that, Batman still made Grayson help him stabilize the Lantern before fleeing the scene.
2. THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN
In 2002, Frank Miller created The Dark Knight Strikes Again, his first sequel to Dark Knight Returns. While Dick Grayson had been absent from that earlier work, DK2 revealed the sad fate of that world’s Robin. After Batman fired him for “incompetence and cowardice,” Grayson underwent an experimental procedure involving gene therapy that gave him a powerful healing factor and some shapeshifting abilities. It also drove him insane.
After the Joker died in Dark Knight Returns, the crazed Grayson became the new Joker in DK2. After killing heroes like the Martian Manhunter, the Creeper and the Guardian, Grayson took on his former mentor in one final battle. To overwhelm his regenerative abilities, Batman blew up the Batcave and threw Grayson into a pool of lava that was hidden underneath. Although Superman rescued Batman from a similar fate, the moment didn’t resonate with readers, and the sequel received fairly poor reviews.
1. NIGHTWING’S LAST FLIGHT
In the wake of the 2013 crossover Forever Evil, Dick Grayson’s identity as Nightwing had been revealed to the world. After his apparent death was broadcast worldwide, Batman wanted to infiltrate the espionage organization Spyral, which was gathering information of superhero secret identities. Before Grayson took that mission on in the pages of Grayson, Batman tested his might one last time in 2014’s Nightwing #30, by Tim Seely, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Javier Garron and Jorge Lucas.
In a bloody, bare-chested Batcave brawl, Batman and Grayson unleashed years of pent-up tension on each other. The Batcave’s decorations became weapons as both heroes let loose with powerful strikes. Over the course of the fight, the original Dynamic Duo damaged the Batcycle and the Batplane before crashing into the Batmobile. After accepting the mission, Grayson knocked Batman out with a final blow that proved that the student had finally surpassed his old master.
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