How Has The Batman Costume Evolved?

It says that clothes make the man. If this proverb fits someone more than anyone, it is Batman, both artistically and technically. After all, a superhero having no superpowers has to have a suit – the iconic Batman costume – that protects his back from snapping like a twig and enables him to keep his arsenal of tricks hidden: Batarangs, hooks, and more.

Also, it has to render him the “original looks” everyone yearns for. However, Batman costume has not been the same over the decades of the superhero’s service to Gotham City. Marked changes have been made to keep the essence and the spirit of the hero alive in movies, comics, and our hearts.

While many suits complied with the philosophy we’ve just thrown above, there were some that are still ridiculed by fans. Yes, you guessed it right. We are talking about that nippled suit of Batman and Robin. That could have been better, but then if it wasn’t like that, what’d we have to talk about?

Let’s leave that to rest and go to another extreme – the bat-suits donned by Christian Bale and Ben Affleck in The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Batman Vs Superman and Justice League respectively.

These two extremes have an array of different costumes sandwiched between them according to the taste of fans, but here we’d talk about the evolution of the Batman costume from its beginning to the present.

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1939’s Batsuit

It all started in May 1939 when the Bob Kane drew the first ever Batsuit. It wasn’t anything “modern” as people would say, but it was far appropriate as the first step towards perfection. There wasn’t any sophistication in it, but subtleties were here and there, thanks to its inspiration mainly drawn from the costumes of The Phantom and Zorro. You could almost confuse the three if there wasn’t the signature cape and cowl of Batman.

1943 and 1949’s Emerging Batsuit

Once the Batman ship set assail in the waters of imagination and all good things, Lewis Wilson was offered a role in the 1943’s 15 chapter Batman Series. The costume donned by him in that serial had a mix of grey and black (just the way it is). However, to a comically evolved eye (thanks to Hollywood) this Batman costume can be nothing short of just subtle additions to the previous version. There’s this smaller than normal bat symbol, an oddly pointy cowl and a loosely stitched cape noticeable from a distance.

The same was the case with a yet another 15-part series, but this time the suit was worn by Robert Lowery. By the looks of it, it is road killing hilarious as we see the costume not so fitting the protagonist (couldn’t they revamp it or something?).

1966’s Adam West Batman Costume

Everything in the 1960s was purely dramatic. Big eyebrows, eerie dance moves, and dramatic shrieks were common. Then released Batman: The Movie wasn’t immune to these things. Adorned by Adam West, the suit was “pure west” as he’d brag later. The Batman emblem was fixed on the suit rather than sewed, the cowl was enhanced with shorter ears and well, eyebrows, and the colors of the suit were mainly in-the-face rant of that era.

This over-dramatic suit lasted until the 1980s when Frank Miller overhauled everything.

1980s’ Dark Batsuit

Frank Miller steered clear of all the garish aspects of the previous Batsuit and decided to pull over on the darker shoulder of the highway. We mean it. Look at the suit from that era – all dark. That was the time when the Batsuit took to the 50th darker shade of grey (pun intended).

Inspired by this work, Tim Burton signed Michael Keaton for 1989’s Batman and gave him a slim-fit Batman costume with a defined cowl and in-place cape. Above all, it did retain the belt and the emblem from the 60s, but this time both were given a modern look. The same suit found its place in the later 1992 version of Batman Returns.


1990’s Ridiculed Batsuit

The 1990s started with marking a new era for the Batman and the Batsuit. The 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series set new records. The suit drawn in it kept the belt and the emblem, thus drawing the character to its pulpy roots. That included bringing in the grey and black mixture back. The same suit was cloned in the 1993’s spin-off Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

However, after that and onwards in 1995’s Batman Forever, 1997’s Batman & Robin, the Batsuit saw the inclusion (or rather a protrusion) of Bat-nipples. Yes, this is the suit we laughed about in the start. It was all cartoonish and over-done with silver colored emblems giving it more toyetic look. It sure was a bad, bad, Batsuit.

It wasn’t all a loss for DC as, on the small screen, the Batman Beyond did quite well in 1999. But the suit in that cartoon series had no cape and Terry McGinnis rather gave it more of a futuristic look with the ability to make its wearer airborne.

2000’s Armored Batsuit

As the franchise entered into the 21st century, Christopher Nolan revamped the Batsuit. Throughout the movies released in 2005, 2008 up to 2012 starring Christian Bale as the Batman, the suit had more of a realistic approach with life-size appropriate proportions (especially of the cowl and cape). But the Batman costume in all of those movies was more of a battle armor than a superhero suit. Well, it did work for that era.

Talking about the colors of the suit, the cape was kept darker and the emblem lost its yellow color to a shady black, which made it more prominent. Also, in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, the Batsuit was matched with the meaner and leaner Batman.

2010s OMG Batsuit

We don’t want to talk about Batman in The Lego Movie for personal purposes. But we sure want to scream “omg” while mentioning Ben Affleck’s Batman costume in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League. It is by far the most exotic and drool-worthy costumes of all. It is a slim-fit look-alike of Frank Miller’s design with all the colors and everything. There’s no yellow belt, over- or under-sized cape, no pointy ears, and over-sized cowl, and no tiny emblem, but a more appropriate cape, smaller ears, and decent cowl, and a gigantic Batman emblem on the chest. In 2016’s Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, we even see an armored Batman costume that gives us the Iron Man vibes. Oops!

So, this is all folks. The evolution of Batman costume has been influenced by many factors and one of them was the interest of audiences. Of all the costumes, which one would you vote for if DC decides to set up a poll?


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