Robin and Batman have been an iconic DC Comics duo for nearly 70 years, with many fans having more than one favorite character from the comic book series.
The characters first appeared in Showcase #28, released on October 30, 1940. Robin was initially inspired by characters created by Earl “Rick” Rickerson, while Batman was inspired by Bob Kane’s character Edward G. Robinson, the original Batman’s actor for the 1920s. Robinson’s appearance inspired Kane’s character as well.
The comic book stories typically involve the two detectives trying to stop crimes committed by the Joker and other villains, with a supporting cast that includes Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, Alfred Pennyworth as the butler, and James Gordon as Commissioner Gordon.
Over the years, due to their extensive use in marketing and advertising campaigns as well as guest appearances in other comics and media, the characters have become more popular than ever before. A poll conducted in 2012 by MTV discovered that 37% of American millennials knew who Robin was, while only 18% knew who Batman was. More impressively, 52% of those polled didn’t know who either of the Justice League heroes were. (MTV)
The Evolution of the Duo
Even before their first names were used in English-speaking countries, the DC Comics version of Robin and Batman were known as “Dick Grayson” and “Bruce Wayne,” respectively. That was the case for several years after their creation, with most people simply referring to them as “the Batman” and “the Boy Wonder” until the 1960s, when they started using their first names in public. (Batman)
One of the more prominent namesakes associated with the character is Dick Grayson, who went on to become both Nightwing and Arsenal, the latter being a DC Comics superhero that first appeared in 2006. (Nightwing)
As mentioned, there have been several actors who have played Batman over the years, with several different looks and styles. Even after seventy years, the character still has several aspects that he can change to fit the moment, such as the Batsuit, which he has used to change into several different looks.
Robin is often referred to as “the Boy Wonder,” which is an apt moniker considering his role as Batman’s sidekick. (Robin)
Like his comic book counterpart, Rich Grayson, the television version of Robin’s name is Dick. He started out as Batman’s sidekick in the 1960s, appearing alongside him in the 1966 TV series. (Dick Grayson)
After that series ended its five-year run, Batman returned to television in the 1968 episode “No Man’s Land,” portrayed by Burgess Meredith. (The Batman: A Television Series)
In the 1970s, ABC decided to revitalize its live television action shows by creating its own superheroes, and thus the modern era of live-action Batman began in the form of the dark and brooding vigilante shown on-screen from the moment he stepped foot on-screen in the 1973 episode “The Mark of Zorro.” (Mark of Zorro)
This version of Batman would go on to star in his own short-lived television series as well as the hugely successful 1989 feature film directed by Tim Burton. (Tim Burton)
The Caped Crusader’s most prominent look-a-like was probably Burgess Meredith’s portrayal of the character in the 1960s. (The Batman: A Television Series)
However, in the comics, Edward G. Robinson inspired a wide range of characters, and it was the most recent version of the character that became popular. (Mark of Zorro)
In the comics’ Golden Age, when most of the characters were created, Batman’s looks were more similar to what we see today. However, as time went on, the creators started portraying him in different ways, changing his look to fit the era in which he appeared. (Batman: The Animated Series)
The Evolution of the Duo
A character known for changing his looks is Mr. Freeze, who first appeared in Batman #1 in 1940. Even though his original design was based on a character named Albert Victor that first appeared in Detective Comics in 1937, his design in the comic books has changed over the years. (Freeze)
In the comics, Freeze originally wore a mask that covered most of his face. However, that changed in the 1950s when the creators gave him a full-face mask, which he has worn ever since. (Freeze: Profile in Courage)
One of the more distinctive looks associated with Freeze is his black gloves. However, those weren’t originally part of his outfit. In fact, he didn’t even wear gloves in his first appearance. (Freeze)
One of the most interesting things about Mr. Freeze is the changing perceptions he has inspired in people. Before his first appearance, the only people that knew who he was were other inmates in Batman’s prisons. However, since his creation, Mr. Freeze has become a popular character among women, with many wearing his distinctive white fur coat in homage to it. (Freeze)
One of the most prominent looks associated with the Joker is his eye makeup. Many versions of the character wear a mixture of black and red around their eyes, with some sources referring to it as a “death’s head” look. (The Joker)
The Joker’s makeup wasn’t fully established until his second year as a character, in 1942. However, his face was already being portrayed in different ways before that point. His first appearance was just two years earlier in 1940, but due to an edit that was made for time, only one image of the Joker was used in Showcase #28. (The Joker)
The Evolution of the Duo
The Joker is another character that is well-known for evolving over the years. In most of the comics, he wears a mask that covers his entire face. However, in his first appearance two years earlier, the face was shown. (The Joker)
The original Joker wasn’t very colorful. However, since then, the character has developed into a highly recognizable figure. (The Joker)
The Evolution of Batman
Even before their first names were used in English-speaking countries, the other Justice League member that you might be most familiar with is Aquaman. Arthur Curry was the first to use the name Aquaman, who was a prominent member of the Justice League until his death in 1955. Before then, he was best known as a warrior with a powerful voice, protecting the surface water around the world. (Aquaman)
After his death, his twin brother, Tom Curry, continued the adventures of Aquaman as a ghost writer. Since then, the character has evolved into a full-fledged superhero. (Aquaman: Profile in Courage)
The Evolution of Robin
If you watched any of the various versions of Batman over the years, you might have noticed that Batman’s sidekick changed as well. Depending on the version, Robin’s outfit has changed several times, from bright red shorts and a yellow T-shirt to blue jeans and an orange jump suit with a yellow shirt. (Mark of Zorro)
The character’s first name, Robin, comes from a combination of the words “rich” and “bold.” (Robin)
The comic book author who originally created the character was named Bob Kane. He was inspired by an orphanage friend known as “Robin” who was extremely bold and spoke his mind. (Kane)
Which Version of Batman Are You Most Identifiable With?
There is no question that modern audiences identify most with the darker, more brooding version of Batman. Perhaps that’s because they feel more comfortable relating to the character. (Mark of Zorro)
One of the best things about having a character that has been around for so long is that you get to see his evolution. It’s not like many other comics where the story is essentially the same each week. With Batman, you know that one or more of the characters will die, and then new variations on the theme will emerge. (Tim Burton)
Considering the characters’ incredible popularity and endless opportunities for storytelling, it’s amazing that a movie hasn’t been made about them yet. (Mark of Zorro)