Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy

Warner Bros. New Zealand/Youtube Universal Pictures UK/Youtube

The ‘Barbie’/’Oppenheimer’ memes are only getting weirder

Literally bringing Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy's faces together.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 3, 2023   Updated on Jul 24, 2023, 8:14 pm CDT

Barbenheimer is well on its way to taking over the internet this month, but cinema’s hottest doubleheader isn’t just out to save the movies: It’s also a perfect split-screen meme template.

With months of speculation and jokes about watching Barbie and Oppenheimer in one day or which one will end up on top at the box office (spoiler: probably Barbie). But perhaps the one thing better than pitting Barbie and Oppenheimer against each other is pitting them together.

We’re already in edited trailers and fancam territory.

But it’s just as effective to showcase how much the two movies contrast one another than to put them side-by-side. The left side features Margot Robbie as Barbie, while the right features Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer. One’s in color, the other black and white.

According to Know Your Meme, the photographs come from two different places. The Barbie photo is a paparazzi shot from when Robbie was filming a scene from the movie. Robbie is dressed like a cowboy, donning a pink vest and pants, a pink handkerchief tied around her neck, and a white stetson. In one of the trailers for Oppenheimer, Murphy is donning a porkpie hat (Oppenheimer’s go-to hat) and holding onto it while evading the swarm of cameras and reporters around him.

Robbie and Murphy aren’t necessarily at the same exact angles in those respective images. But it’s close enough for them to line up to create a twisted portrait that encompasses both movies.

As @anniodarone3 said last month on Twitter, “Inside me there are two wolves,” and it was far from the only time a version of that tweet emerged.

In some ways, it’s yet another shorthand to signify that you’re definitely on Team Barbenheimer if asked.

But as Barbenheimer memes gained traction online over the weekend, it became another way to pit two things against each other.

It could work visually, such as comparing a darker album cover to one with blues and pinks on it.

It works as a comparison between two very different albums.

And even the current conversation about Twitter and the alternative Bluesky.

The Phoenix Leicester, a small independent movie theater in the U.K., went as far as to commission split-screen artwork from Jon Attfield. While it’s not the exact same image taking over the internet, it features two similar shots of Barbie and Oppenheimer in their hats that line up all too well. 

And now we’re a little over two weeks until the movie faceoff to end all faceoffs. May the memes never stop coming.

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*First Published: Jul 3, 2023, 5:48 pm CDT