There are memes, and then there are Batman memes.
It should come as no surprise that a fictional character as popular and iconic as Batman would inspire an endless number of pop culture memes. Nor is it terribly surprising that so many of them are this funny. There have been a huge number of interpretations of the Dark Knight, after all, and any and all of them are perfect fodder for humor.
When you really think about it, in comedic terminology, Batman is a perfect straight man. That's because he's unapologetic about how he takes himself seriously. In some versions of the Caped Crusader, he's serious to a fault. In others, he's self-absorbed with a superiority complex. And then, there's Ben Affleck, who seems destined to be the butt of meme-makers' jokes for all eternity.
In almost every incarnation of the Dark Knight, he's oblivious to the feelings of others. Or maybe he's just too focused on his mission to have time to care. Either way, we're the beneficiaries of his singular observations on life. Even though these particular observations were made up by fans, most of them play on the wildest aspects of his personality, and come so close to ringing true.
20 The clothes make the man
Everyone tells you to shoot for the stars, to be whatever you want to be when you grow up. This meme takes that advice to its most extreme conclusion. It's geeky wish fulfillment — or it would be, if it worked. Sadly for this person, his (or her) boss was likely not impressed.
So how could an ordinary person become a dark knight vigilante? Well, you'd need a lot more than a good costume, that's for sure. Bruce Wayne's keen mind, intense training, and limitless bank account can't be taken out of the Batman equation. And sorry to break it to you, but you don't fit that bill.
While dressing for success is usually good advice, it takes a lot more than cosplay to be the Batman.
19 Meep, Meep
In 2005's Batman Begins, the Dark Knight begins his war on crime by using the power of fear to manipulate his enemies. This one guy — Detective Flass, a corrupt officer from the Gotham Police Department — gets the fright of his life when Batman interrogates him after stringing him up high above the ground, upside down.
After spilling everything he knows, a furious Batman wants to know if the dirty cop is telling the truth. He says he is. "I swear to God!" the guy cries. In his most out-of-control, rage-filled voice, Batman growls, "Swear to me!"
Apparently, there was a run on Beaker memes a while back, resulting a mashup that's sure to make you laugh out loud. The way Beaker's psycho expression matches up so perfectly with the words is just brilliant.
18 A closet fan?
The rivalry between Superman and Batman is more than a friendly competition. Ultimately, they're brothers in arms, and in the comics, they're very good friends. That doesn't change the fact that they frequently don't see eye-to-eye.
This has been explored on the big screen only once, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where they were manipulated by Lex Luthor into fighting each other, almost to-the-death. The brotherly side of their relationship hasn't yet been depicted, but this meme suggests that the great respect Bruce Wayne gained for Clark Kent at the end of that movie is a hint that there could be a much deeper, long-hidden kind of appreciation going on — with some hilariously no-nonsense observations by Wonder Woman.
17 Batman always wins
This image imagines a track race between Superman and the Flash. They're both capable of running at supersonic speeds — far beyond anything an ordinary man could do. (The general accepted notion is that Flash would win, because there seem to be no limits to how fast he can go.) So imagine the confidence required for a mortal man to step up to the starting line next to them. It's a shame we can't see more of Flash and Superman's shocked faces, but Batman never flinches.
And you know... He probably will win. He is Batman.
16 Poor Val
Val Kilmer starred as the title character in the 1995 film Batman Forever, in what amounted to his one and only appearance as the Dark Knight. He did an adequate job, but was hindered by a cartoonish script and kitschy visuals from director Joel Schumacher.
Unfortunately, the years since Batman Forever weren't terribly kind to Mr. Kilmer. He's had plenty of film roles, but none of them were very physically challenging, so... he kinda let himself go. Hey, no judgment here. It happens to the best of us.
This half playful/half mean-spirited meme takes a photo of the actor at his heaviest point and juxtaposes it with that time he played one of the coolest characters around. On the bright side, Mr. Kilmer has worked to slim back down — and even survived cancer — in the years since this picture was taken.
15 Most excellent, Ted
You should already know the second image above. It's been used by meme-makers for years to ponder every bizarre thought you could possibly imagine with a dude-i-fied expression of "Whoa..."
The photo, of course, is of Keanu Reeves in character as Ted "Theodore" Logan in the goofball classic, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The meme on the left, concerning Bruce Wayne's selective use of technology, can be found in the wild on its own. But this variant where Ted/Keanu answers it with one of his typically out there thoughts is even better.
Ted turns the whole thing on its on its head, reminding us all that this is Batman we're talking about. And Batman thinks of everything. Because he's Batman. Batman, people!
14 In Memorial
There's no getting around Bruce Wayne's dark past. The murder of his parents is a foundational piece of the Batman puzzle, and a major part of what makes Bruce Wayne tick. But even with subject matter as terrible as this, a little dark humor can be found if you know where to look.
The grins on the couple's faces say it all. The stunned-but-amused looks of everyone around them is just the gravy. The photo was taken at a comic book convention where a pair of attendees decided to take advantage of the huge number of Batman cosplayers by having a little fun.
There's no way of knowing how other Batman cosplayers reacted, but you have to salute this one for committing to the moment. Especially when he had no idea it was coming.
In 2008's The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne takes an experimental piece of technology invented by Lucius Fox and implements it on a mass scale in order to locate the Joker. The tech uses a cellular phone as a kind of sonar, so linking every mobile device in Gotham City together creates a huge map of the city that can be used to find anyone or anything.
Lucius is less than pleased, not liking that his invention is being used to invade the privacy of everyone in Gotham. But Bruce has already created a self-destruct mechanism that allows Lucius to destroy the tech after Joker is found and taken down, should he choose to do so (he does).
In 2012's The Dark Night Rises, however, Batman is faced with a similar situation, in which he needs to find Bane in order to stop a nuclear weapon. If only he still had that damn sonar thing...
12 I wish I may, I wish I might
Sometimes memes don't need to be clever to be funny. On those occasions, you can just drop all the pretenses and be as blunt as a tree stump.
What self-respecting geek hasn't at one point or another wished they could be a superhero? Who wouldn't want to fly like Superman or hop inside Iron Man's amazing armor? It's the ultimate nerd fantasy. And thank God for the escape from the daily grind that is the imagination. But we don't live in a fantasy world. Reality will inevitably rear its ugly head and bring all the wishful thinkers crashing back down to the cold, harsh world we inhabit.
Whoever came up with this one... Hang in there, friend. It's a funny meme, but there's also a morsel of truth in every joke. And everyone here feels your pain.
11 Get over Batfleck, already
Zack Snyder decided to introduce a new Batman in his follow-up to Man of Steel, pitting the Bat against Henry Cavill's Superman. It was an unexpected way to expand Man of Steel into a DC Cinematic Universe, and fans were intrigued.
Until Snyder cast Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, that is. Suddenly, all anyone could think of was the actor's less-than-memorable turn as Daredevil about a decade prior, and the fans weren't going to stand for a lackluster Caped Crusader. And then the trailers for BvS hit, and it began to strike everyone that hey, Affleck's older than he used to be and a lot more experienced. Maybe he could pull this off after all.
The movie didn't earn the rave reviews everyone was hoping for, but Affleck indisputably managed to vindicate himself. Opinions are still split about his casting, but his smoldering portrayal was never cited as one of the movie's problems, and was actually one of the film's redeeming aspects.
10 He's already gone
It's one of Batman's most frequently used tactics. He'll be talking to someone — Commissioner Gordon, more often than not — and while the other person is in the middle of saying something, they'll turn around and discover that Batman is gone.
When you come down to it, it's actually really rude. No one could ever get way with doing that over and over in real life. But Batman sees it as a necessity; it's part of who he is. It keeps his true identity a secret and it adds to his mystique. And then there are the times when you legitimately have to leave due to an emergency and there just isn't time to say goodbye.
For whatever reason he does it, his allies never do manage to get used to it.
9 Bruce Wayne's World
There's something irresistible about bringing together two dark, brooding icons of pop culture like Darth Vader and Batman, just to see what happens. They turn up together in a surprising amount of memes (see #6, too), likely because the two characters might have more in common than what's different about them. They've even dueled each other in fan-made videos, and some high quality ones at that.
So this was probably inevitable. Playing on the 1992 comedy Wayne's World (and the recurring Saturday Night Live skit that preceded it), this meme reframes the two main characters' catchphrase by substituting Wayne and Garth for the Dark Knight and the Dark Lord of the Sith.
It's funny because it works so well. And it's a known fact that Lego makes all things cuter.
8 A bullet to the what?
Yeah, it's psychotic. Tasteless, too. But you have to admit, it's pretty funny.
The expression on Christian Bale's face is what sells it. Just look at that quality emoting. This is a Batman that suffers no fools. He knows who he is and why he is, and he doesn't care what you think of him. The fact that the meme frames things as if he's speaking to a child only makes it all the wackier, because it gives you a peek into his twisted inner life.
The hardcore version of Batman depicted in this meme is very much like the one from The Lego Batman Movie. Lego Batman spends all his time saying things exactly like this. Remember, he told Robin, "Lesson number one: Life doesn't give you seatbelts!"
7 Better is Better
The playful antagonism between Batman and Superman (see #18) has led many fans to take up the cause and engage in nerdrage arguments about who is the better superhero. Supes' fans say that his raw power and unflinching moral compass easily make him the greatest of all time. But Batman devotees point to Bruce Wayne's extensive training, genius-level intelligence, and always five-steps-ahead-of-everyone-else cunning as evidence that he can defeat anyone if he sets his mind to it.
Clearly, Batman agrees with this assessment, if this meme is anything to go by. His standard answer to any question about his qualifications or abilities is, "I'm Batman." What more needs to be said?
The image used in this one, incidentally, is great for all sorts of meme-y uses. You'll see it again in #3, used in an entirely different context.
6 It's on now
Just like in #9, your favorite pair of dark brooders has found themselves together again for another meme. But unlike last time, they're not partying, and they're not friends. Instead, it looks like they're about to throw down.
This image must have come from a comic convention, perhaps even San Diego Comic-Con — and apparently it's one that takes place in a city with public transit. So when these two cosplayers spotted each other on the same train car, they playfully moved in dangerously close, and well... the image says it all.
It's Batman vs. Darth Vader, and a showdown for the ages. Who would win? You know every last person on that train is holding their breath to find out. And so are we.
5 No killing
Everyone knows that Batman never takes a life. No matter how badly he might want to, regardless of the horrific acts his depraved enemies commit, it's his cardinal rule. Batman does not kill.
This has been emphasized at length in the comics. Entire story arcs have been written about Bruce Wayne wrestling with the fact that his refusal to kill his enemies has led to them resurfacing and murdering innocent people time and time again. At what point does enough become enough, ya know? How many times does Joker have to escape from Arkham Asylum and go on a gleeful killing spree before somebody finally puts a bullet through his head?
This meme plays on Batman's top rule, using a quote from the comics and adding a dark comedic twist via Batman v Superman. Not too many of Lex Luthor's henchmen will be causing problems for anyone after they crossed that Dark Knight.
4 Guns are bad... sort of
That unbreakable "no killing" rule we just mentioned has a sub-clause that hand-in-hand with it: Batman never uses guns.
Much has been made of the fact that in the movies and comics, Batman has no problem adding lethal projectile weapons to his vehicles like the Batmobile and the Batplane. It's a bit of a paradox; how is it that handguns are bad, but high-powered cannons are good? Sure, he uses them mostly for defense or to punch holes through barriers he needs to get through. But c'mon.
This meme plays with the same contradiction, using an image from one of the Batman animated films. How can anyone see the Dark Knight wielding a giant axe as anything but irony? He may have been fighting an army of Darkseid clones at the time this pic was snapped, but he definitely wasn't planning on putting them down with non-lethal force if that's what he's bringing into battle.
3 It's for science
You don't ever get the impression that Batman wants Superman dead (save for the first two thirds of BvS, of course). So why he feels the need to test this question on a living, breathing Kryptonian is anybody's guess. His scientific curiosity act is hysterical though, because you can't tell if it's genuine, or if it masks something much darker.
This would never actually happen in the comics or the movies, of course. But Batman's morbid experiment is enough to add "Mad Scientist" to his long list of monikers. Because we all know exactly what would happen if Superman were to ingest Kryptonite: the Man of Steel would come to a very nasty end.
Of course, Batman knows this as well as Superman and everyone reading it. But making excuses for the things he does is not the Batman way.
2 Rock on!
In 2014's The Lego Movie, Will Arnett gave Lego Batman an over-the-top "self-absorbed jerk" vibe. It was an extreme version of Batman that was both hilarious and made a weird kind of sense.
Seeing Christian Bale's Batman rocking out — and that's a photoshopped image, by the way, with the microphone inserted into a fighting stance after the fact — made an instant connection for clever one meme-maker. Lego Batman's uproarious rock metal ode to his own tragic history was one of the highlights of the film, a song he claimed to have written for his then-girlfriend Wyldstyle, but we all know the truth. In Lego Batman's world, everything is about him.
Pairing this behind-the-scenes photo and the song together was a natural fit.
1 A week is not enough
Who's smarter: Batman or Superman? We're going to have to go with Batman. Clark's no fool, don't misunderstand, but Bruce is a certifiable genius, with expertise in technology, engineering, science, mathematics, biology, chemistry, battle tactics, and more.
Batman already gets plenty of flack for being the only member of the Justice League with no powers. Imagine how frustrating it has to be for him when most (if not all) of his teammates try to solve every problem with brute force instead of thinking it through. And they look down on him?
You have to think that every now and then he just runs out of patience with them, which he demonstrates here in response to Superman's silly suggestion. He shuts down Clark's idea with brutal, witty efficiency, and while it's a bit of a stretch to call this one a meme (it's a subtitled exchange from the animated film Justice League Doom), it was just too funny not to include.
Do you have any other hysterical Batman memes hidden up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments!