The Very Weird Reason Batman Has A Dinosaur In His Cave

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Tyrannosaurus rex in Batman's cave has become a staple of his trophy room, but where did he actually get the robotic dinosaur?

The Batcave has no shortage of tokens and trophies from Batman's long history of crime-fighting. But why is one of his souvenirs a life-sized, animatronic replica of a tyrannosaurus rex? To borrow a phrase from Jack Nicholson's Joker, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" To find the answer, fans will have to go way back to 1946 to revisit the absurdity found in the pages of Batman #35. 

A P.T. Barnum-esque showman named Murray Wilson Hart is struggling to come up with the next spectacle to top his latest "aqua carnival" and "ice frolics," whatever those are. Inspired by a headline declaring a prehistoric mammoth had just been unearthed in a Siberian glacier, he goes full John Hammond and decides he'll create Dinosaur Island, a destination guests can visit to see robotic recreations of prehistoric creatures. He concludes a press conference by announcing that he's hosting a dinner party for big game hunters that will be serving...  steaks cut out of the Siberian mammoth. “Meat millions of years old! Should be tender,” he tells the reporters.

And if that wasn't already weird enough, the very next panel sees Batman and Robin sitting at that dinner party. Wilson Hart explains to his guests that they're presence is on account of their being manhunters, a proclamation some of the guests take offense to. A Mr. Breach says the duo don't deserve a spot at the table because of their reliance on (then) modern technology in their adventures. He bets $5,000 that they couldn't survive 36 hours on Dinosaur Island without the help of their tools, offering the money to a charity of Batman's choosing. Breach will control the animatronics as the pair struggle to avoid danger. Despite the fact that Bruce Wayne could probably find $5,000 in his couch cushions, he accepts the offer. All the while, another dinner attendee, Stephen Chase, rubs his chin and plots.

After the Dynamic Duo ceremoniously strip themselves of their utility belts for a photo op, the pair head into the wilds of Dinosaur Island. Little do they know, however, Chase has ambushed Breach and seized the controls with plans to take them out for good. Charged by a styracosaurus, Batman and Robin barely escape by diving into the ocean, at which point Batman is almost bitten in half by yet another robo-dinosaur. They escape, but are soon again besieged, this time by robot cavemen. A fairly self-aware panel's narration calls it, "the most bizarre battle ever fought!"

They survive that brawl, but things really come to a head in the final battle, which sees Chase charging at Batman riding the now famous T-Rex. And is if that wasn't outlandish enough, he's only stopped when Robin - who had fashioned himself wings out of a robotic pterodactyl and catapulted himself into the sky - pours water on the robots' control panels from overhead. Somehow, this plan works and the story ends with Chase in a cage as Batman gives a press conference. The villain explains that he wanted Batman out of the way to create a crime syndicate in Gotham, which apparently there was somehow a shortage of.

So that's the insane story behind the Batcave's iconic T-Rex. Batman just kept it after surviving some weird sort of West World/Jurassic Park amalgamation nearly a century ago and it's now become a fixture in Batman lore. So that answers that question, but probably the more important one is... did Batman and Robin actually eat those steaks?