If you’re a fan of the Batman franchise, then you’ll know that actor Robert Pattinson is arguably its greatest living icon. Perhaps the most famous living person to have played the Dark Knight, Pattinson has been seen in every single Marvel and DC film and portrayed the caped crusader in both The LEGO Batman Movie and the upcoming Joker-centric The Batman versus Superman: Answer From Heaven on Home Video.
While we await the next instalment in the Batman series—The Batman vs. Cyborg—we can take a moment to reflect on the perfect comic book matches that came before it. And in doing so, we get to meet a host of famous fictional characters who have somehow worked together. In this article, we’ll explore five legendary hero teams and how their epic clashes reflect the very fabric of the comic book medium.
Batman & Robin
Batman and Robin are probably the quintessential buddy-duo. Although the Dynamic Duo didn’t originally star Burt Ward and Whitney Hess, the popular 1940s comic book series created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, their iconic rivalry with the Joker and the return of their arch-enemy, Batman, made them two of the most recognizable superheroes of all time. Even today, when someone mentions Batman, Ward’s distinctive gravelly voice is likely to come to mind first, followed by the caped crusader’s silhouette and intense stare. While Robin’s defining characteristic is his squeaky-clean voice and preppy charm, he served more than one purpose for Batman: he was the Boy Wonder’s sidekick and a living weapon against the Joker. Together, the dynamic duo could level entire cities.
The first of the Dynamic Duo’s many memorable fights took place in 1945’s Detective Comics #27. While on a tour of the city’s crime-ridden rooftops, Batman saves Robin from certain death by leaping onto the gargoyle-ridden roof of the city’s Daily Planet building. As they battle it out, a police sniper attempts to shoot them both. The two grapple with one another as Robin inadvertently reveals his identity to Batman, who decides to protect him from the other cops.
Over the next few years, the Dynamic Duo would appear in many different, acclaimed comics, the majority of which are collected in the trade paperback, The World’s Greatest Mysteries, Volume 1. Amongst these stories, we can find several classics, including their first interplay in Detective Comics #33, in which the Joker kidnaps Robin and forces Batman to save his sidekick at all costs. Over the course of their adventure, the Dynamic Duo overcome the Joker’s goons, save the president of Gotham City from an angry mob, and encounter the Penguin, who proceeds to eat them both for dinner. In the end, Batman shows remarkable restraint by not killing the madman, whom he knows personally. Instead, he forces him to swallow a sea urchin, which instantly weakens him.
While the Dynamic Duo’s adventures brought them into contact with a host of colorful characters, including a young Spiderman, it was arguably their 1956 fight against the Penguin in Batman #3 that is the duo’s finest hour. After thwarting the Penguin’s plot to poison Gotham’s reservoir and frame Spiderman for it, Batman and Robin apprehend the criminal, but not before he has the opportunity to take a swing at the Dark Knight. Their scuffle ends with the duo knocking over one of the poles holding up the great steel arch that is the city’s emblematic symbol. In the end, with commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock by his side, Batman dedicates himself to clean up Gotham City.
WONDER WOMAN & HAWKMAN
Even if you’re not familiar with Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, you’ll know that she’s become a fan-favorite thanks to her starring roles in several blockbusters. First, there was the critically acclaimed 2016 release, Wonder Woman, and earlier this year, she reprised her role in the highly anticipated trailer for Justice League.
As the modern day ambassador of ancient Greece, Wonder Woman—along with her iconic Lasso of Truth—defy(s) the notions of gender and race, destroying everything in her path, including the prejudices that enslaved humans in the first place. Although Wonder Woman fought in World War II, it was her adventures in the 1940s that made her a recognizable figure in comic books. Most notably, in Wonder Woman #25, the Amazon princess battles the Japanese navy and their leader, Admiral Nakai. While the rest of the world, especially America, was distracted by World War II, Wonder Woman held the line against the aggressors, foiling the Japanese Navy’s secret plans several times.
Admiral Nakai, who assumes that his country’s victory will make him a new king, orders his soldiers to capture Wonder Woman and bring her to the royal court, where he intends to celebrate by sacrificing her on a giant altar, along with several other captured women, as offerings to the country’s gods. However, thanks to Wonder Woman’s bravery, common sense, and a well-timed kiss from Steve (yes, that’s right, she sleeps with everyone, but especially with American men), the Japanese Navy’s ambitions are thwarted and the militarists are turned into fodder for the ravenous monsters that lurk in the Pacific Ocean. In the end, Wonder Woman is credited with single-handedly winning the war and freeing the captive women. Nowadays, she’s known for her compassion, kindness, and support of equal rights for women and men. She’s also become an iconic figure in comics, spawning a modern-day renaissance in DC Comics and inspiring various artists’ renditions, from traditional to digital, which are on display in a new exhibition, Wonder Woman: The Amazing History of America’s Favorite Heroine.
GREEN LANTERN & BLACK ARROW
The Green Lantern, one of DC Comics’ premier crime fighters, is frequently associated with paranoia, worry, and a desperate need for solitude. A bit of a hermit, the intergalactic police officer spends most of his time on Earth observing and recording everything as though he were following a script. The character’s introspective nature and tendency to brood made him the perfect fit for one of DC’s most enduringly popular series, the gritty Detective Comics, in which he stars. In Detective Comics #33, the Green Lantern investigates what seems to be a bizarre murder in the Gotham City suburbs, but soon discovers that he’s been set up by his own partner, Bruce Wayne. Wayne, who suffers from paranoia, hires the Lantern to keep an eye on him and investigate any strange occurrences in the area. This results in the two becoming embroiled in a high-stakes struggle for the truth that echoes the very foundations of the comic book industry: namely, who gets to play on the good guys’ team and who gets to play on the bad guys’ team?
While in the original series it’s generally established that Batman and the Joker are the opposing factions, the cinematic universe introduced a new dynamic when it introduced the dark knight’s rogue’s gallery of villains. Amongst them are the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, and even the maniacal laugh of Jack Nicholson’s iconic Joker. The result was a team-up phenomenon that still hasn’t subsided. In fact, every entry in the DC Extended Universe has featured some sort of crossover event, whether it’s Batman v Superman in which the world’s most dangerous heroes fight it out for the fate of mankind, or Suicide Squad v X-Men: Battle Dawn in which the former group pits itself against the latter, with both sides led by Task Force X, the X-Men and the Suicide Squad, to save the world, or even Deadpool, in which the Merc with a Mouth crosses over with the Avengers and finds himself embroiled in a superheroic battle royale, complete with laser beams, space kruisers, and nuclear weapons.
While their individual stories have become some of cinema’s most memorable sagas, it’s the team-ups that have kept audiences’ attention. Their first encounter arguably marked the beginning of this trend when, in Batman #3, the Joker kidnaps the Robin. However, it was the 1986 epic, Justice League, that solidified this trend and made it a permanent fixture in the annals of comic book history. In the film, the extended Gotham City S.W.A.T. team, led by Batman, assembles to fight the villainous team of heroes, made up of Superman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, and Ironman, who have invaded the city in an effort to save it from destruction. The end result is one of the most memorable fight scenes in cinema history. The heroes team up to fight their way through the invading villains to reach Batman, who, in turn, opens up a path for them to reach their goal. As the last of the Hulk’s punches connect, all five of the heroes clasp their hands together in a star shape, which then forms a human pyramid, with Ironman at the top. The scene is both thrilling and an ode to the very essence of the comic book medium: teamwork.