One of the most famous memes around the net is the one where Batman slaps Robin mid-sentence because of a stupid thing he is about to say, but he never finishes the sentence. Since its inception, the meme has also been adapted into several different variants, either using different versions of the same characters or different characters altogether. Batman slapping Robin is a comic book image that actually happened like that, but with a completely different text and context.
In the alternative reality of World’s Finest Comics #153 (1965), Batman slapped Robin because the Boy Wonder opposed his revenge plan to kill Superman together with Lex Luthor and because he expressed his doubts that Superman indeed killed his father. Luckily enough, this narrative was never considered canon.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
Origin of the Batman slapping Robin scene
As we’ve established, the meme is based on an actual comic book scene that appeared in 1965, in World’s Finest Comics #153. The story, “The Clash of Cape and Cowl”, was written by Edmond Hamilton and drawn by Curt Swan. It was essentially an alternative reality story that was set on Earth-153 and is thus not part of the Prime-Earth canon. The story was even then dubbed an “Imaginary Novel”, which essentially told the readers that it was a non-canon, alternative story.
The story focuses on one of the many clashes between Batman and Superman. In his childhood, Bruce Wayne lived with his widowed father, Thomas Wayne, who was a well-known scientist. Dr. Wayne was an advocate for justice and as such he began working with Green Kryptonite to find an antidote that would help the young hero named Superboy, who was weak to the strange mineral. Dr. Wayne informed Superboy of his research, but had not yet been able to provide him with the antidote as it had not been tested at the time.
Unfortunately, Dr. Wayne was found murdered in his laboratory that night as Bruce entered the room just as the killer left in a hurry. Bruce is shocked to find that the Kryptonite solution has been stolen. Assuming Superboy was responsible for his father’s murder, Bruce vows to take revenge on Superboy and begins training himself to be the greatest detective in the world and the best crime fighter.
Years later, Bruce Wayne takes on the masked identity of Batman and soon adopts Dick Grayson, another orphan who would later become Batman’s crime-fighting partner, Robin. Batman and Robin become infamous in Gotham City, but the team disband as soon as Robin learns of Batman’s hatred of the now-adult Superman.
Robin decides to leave Batman after being abruptly slapped in the face for trying to support Superman, and Batman uses a hypnosis machine taken from the Crime Doctor to make Robin forget all about him and his time as Boy Wonder; he will only remember that he is an orphan named Dick Grayson. Dick goes to an orphanage and Batman attempts his personal revenge to find evidence of Superman’s guilt for his father’s death.
To this end, he infiltrates Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and searches for the Kryptonite solution that his father created. When he can’t find the chemical, Batman decides to team up with Superman’s biggest villain, Lex Luthor, to bring down the Man of Steel. Batman and Luthor manage to capture Superman with Kryptonite, but before they can eliminate the Man of Steel, Batman realizes that Luthor is the criminal responsible for the murder of his father.
Batman saves Superman, but is seriously injured by an explosion from one of Luther’s guns. Superman defeats Luthor and speaks to Batman, who is fatally injured and dies. With his last breath, Batman apologizes to Superman for holding a lifelong grudge against him, and Superman makes sure Luthor gets the justice he deserves.
The slapping scene happened during the quarrel between Batman and Robin.
Origins of the Batman slapping Robin meme
As for the meme, the first known iteration appeared online in 2008 when someone obviously found the image and modified it to be a funny image referring to Batman’s family history.
The meme’s original purpose was to refer to the deaths of Batman’s parents, hence the alternative name – the “My Parents Are Dead” meme. A lot of the original memes featured Robin trying to say or ask Batman something that included his parents, to which Batman would reply that his parents are dead while slapping Robin across the face.
Due to the – at least from a modern perspective – violent and unusual character of the image, a lot of people though that it was not an original comic book panel but rather a modification of some panel but it soon turned out that it was an original image, as explained in the preceding section. And with that, history was created.
The meme was originally confined to the “My Parents Are Dead” phrase and most of the jokes were based on that comic book fact. Yet, as the meme’s popularity grew, people started to use it more and more and it soon expanded, as people realised that the two dialogue clouds could be used for other jokes. This not only increased the meme’s popularity, but also made it a source of great jokes that made people laugh on many occasions.