The Evolution of the Batsuit


Here’s a picture collage of all the live-action versions of Batman throughout the years. He started looking like a bad Halloween costume, and today under Chris Nolan has progressed to what appears to be Solid Snake with pointy ears and a cape. Look at that plating! He’s got to be bulletproof by now.

In between, we have some awkward moments with Adam West’s Batman having eyebrows on the outside, and Joel Schumacher’s Batman having nipples on the outside, though he’s conveniently covering them here. When did he wear that gaudy silver suit? I don’t remember that, but it must be Schumacher as well, judging by the look of it clearly designed to sell action figures. Which I probably bought.

In between we have Tim Burton’s bat era, which is sufficiently dark and brooding. I think my favorite suit of the bunch is actually the center right one. What’s yours?

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  1. That awful silver suit is from the end of Batman Forever. Because, you know, nothing says “Creature of the Night” like bright, shiny silver…

    I think my favorites are actually the first and last. The original serial costume is pretty much a dead on Batsuit, and the most recent Nolan suit is basically “Hm, what would I do if I was Batman in the modern world and had billions of dollars?” so I find it quite practical. It’s also more “armor plated” and less “rubber muscles” than any of the other modern ones. Which is good.

  2. Middle right’s the coolest looking. The top row looks like he was played by some wimpy teen, and the bottom row makes him look a little overweight.

  3. That silver one is the worst out of the lot I reckon. It’s like they’ve placed targets at all of his weak points. Chest, gut, kneecaps, groin…

    I like the middle row because it’s truer to the original point of the costume. The purpose of the cape is so criminals can’t quite see where his body is, and you can see how his legs vanish into black in those ones.

    Funnily enough I actually prefer those early ones to the Schumacher ones. They’re pretty Year One.

  4. The suit from the first batman by burton is the best, even in live action they should have something to stay in the comic book spirit, and that huge yellow medal with the bat does it in a perfect way.

    Also, i think its missing from the pic one suit that was made for george clooney i think, it isnt in the movie but you can find pictures, it is like this one with the white things but they put white lightning bolts or something like

  5. The capes on some of those are so long you’d think Batman would be tripping on it all the time.

    It’s a crime-fighting suit, not a black wedding gown! o_O

  6. After looking at these, I’m left thinking that the batsuit has yet to be done right. The first order of business is to make a believable utility belt.

  7. Batman Begins is definitely my favorite one, also has a plausible reason for having all this equipment, all designed for the military, not just made with a few sewing machines in a random room in his mansion.

    Didn’t like the neck piece on The Dark Knight, sure it’s nice to be able to turn your head but it looked a bit silly.

  8. Some people don’t understand why this guy who hunts criminals in the dark has a big bright yellow oval on his chest, and think it was stupid.

    Think about it. You are a crime fighter, and your suit is bullet proof, but other areas like your chin are exposed. Adding a big bright target to your bullet proof chest is a way to trick the criminal into shooting at the brightest point on your body, which is also the most protected.

    For that reason alone, i’d say that the Keaton/Burton suits are the best in terms of staying true to the appearance of the character. The West suit is the best in terms of sheer coolness, whilst the Bale/Nolan suits are best in terms of aesthetics.

  9. The silver suit is from the end of “Batman & Robin” when Batman, Robin and Batgirl all went to fight Mr. Freeze. They all got silver version of their suit (also vehicles) to match the icy theme. Yes, being 13 back then, I brought all the action figures as well.

  10. The suit, the TV in the sixties, is the best, because the muscles naturally batman, I like how they shine their beautiful legs of Batman, the nylon purple makeup, Adam West looks beautiful dressed in that suit, too sexy.

  11. I have always favored most, the 1989 outfit worn by Michael Keaton, though movement was severely limited to him. Apparently, he wasn’t able to turn his head with the cowl/cape on. Thick rubber. Nonetheless, the shade of black used for the costume, and the muscle detail are, to me, the perfect standard for a dark, gothic, brooding Batman. And of course, no one pulled off Batman/Bruce Wayne as well as Keaton. The silent, mysterious air he gave off was perfect for the Dark Knight. I’ll give the runner-up prize to the primary suit used in Batman Forever. Stark, shiny black rubber, and probably the most muscularly detailed of all outfits. Just look at those abs, you can’t deny it. Though, still a bit too flashy for Batman. As for the 1995 Forever prototype, and Batman & Robin’s black/silver, Schumacher went much too far, as if 1997’s B&R wasn’t ridiculous enough in its premise. For the thirties and forties, those suits probably weren’t seen as too bad, relative to today’s views, for all they had back then (not much, apparently, and low budgets of course). 1960’s outfit was a fair comic adaptation, with the blue/gray, though extremely campy (as was it’s intention) compared to all other outfits shown. Nolan’s outfits, for me, are much too tech-savvy looking. Of course, the suits use state of the art technology and material, but why has Batman ever needed that much. It is, in my humble opinion, overkill, but not as bad as Schumacher’s final Forever suit, and final B&R suit. At least Nolan employed a good darkness in the suit. Finally, all that’s left is the suit used for the majority of Batman & Robin. Not a bad outfit, dark enough, a bit shiny. The only problem lies with the fellow in the suit. Horrible casting. Seems I’ve gone off on a rant. Apologies.

  12. Not even close. The Nolan suits are by far the best manufactured, most useful and intimidating batsuits put on screen so far. Keaton looked like a guy wearing a Batman costume, and one that didn’t quite fit at that. Bale owns it. He becomes a beast. I like the TDK one better than the BB one, but it’s close. They actually manage to look believable. Always hated the yellow oval they used to use, which basically automatically disqualifies the Burton suits, and the one in Forever in my mind. And batnips Schumacher? C’mon man.

    I love the armored look with Batman. His power is his money, and he can afford better protection than spandex people. Sure, he’s well trained, but it’s far more implausible that he would last very long with no protection whatsoever. Even SEALS and Special Forces ops wear body armor and use high tech gear. Are we saying that they suck or something? Thought so. In Nolan’s realm, if it’s not at least plausible, it’s worthless. The suits actually fit into the story as well, which increases their design value all the more.

    You’re starting to see Batman comics come around to this kind of viewpoint as well, and also in the video games. He’s no longer some idiot running around in a cloth suit. No criminal would find that threatening in any setting. I feel like the notion of the cloth suit is of a bygone era where the majority of Batman readers were children. Not so anymore, and I don’t believe in insulting people’s intelligence, assuming of course they have any to begin with.

  13. I like the TDK suit best. It is functional, has way better range of movement, and I find it more intimidating than the rest. If I were to be attacked by one of those Batmen, I’d cower in fear on the TDK suit (and Batman Begins suit) as I would most likely not be able to do much damage to him as he beats me to a pulp since the cowl looks very solid and the body armored. While I see the cape as a good way to hide in the dark, I find using it as a glider is more efficient. Also, the glossy black color of the pre-Nolan suits will reflect the faintest amount of light so it is not stealthy at all (I believe the cape is used for stealth on the pre-Nolan films though) while the matt black makes for a better stealth cover (also hides heat signals for infrared scanners as per movie). As for the yellow symbol, why give them a target when you can be invisible? BB and TDK got this part right where Batman is perceived as just a shadow appearing and vanishing at will. Another gripe I hear is the separation of the plated on the leg section. I think most people doesn’t realize that the leg muscles expand when you squat. Think of wearing very tight jeans and squat and you’ll get what I mean. As far as looks go, it is still very recognizable as Batman.

    I find most comic-book fans want to stay true to the comics in which the batsuit is just like a cloth over Batman’s body. It works in the comics because there is such a thing as comics logic – however they portray it, you will just have to believe it. It is different when you want to present a Batman that is plausible in our current world.

  14. RE: LegendInMyMind

    That Michael Keaton didn’t quite fit in the Batsuit was apparently part of the point. He was cast because he *isn’t* an Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he would therefore HAVE to put on a bat-themed costume to intimidate criminals.

    However, I do agree that the ’89 version is the most ill-fitting of them all. For the best Batman costume, I would go for a tie between the Returns redesign (No. 6) and the Batman Begins version. The “Dark Knight” version is a bit too intricate–I prefer the costume to have a unified look.

    You know, if I were to design a realistic Batman costume, I would go for a leather/Kevlar/Nomex double-breasted tunic, with that awesome panel that attaches on an angle; a pair of armored black denims (practical–there’s a zipper for sudden emergencies); and army-style boots. The jacket would have a yellow reflective (or EL-wire) bat outline–NOT an emblem, an OUTLINE–which serves as a target for would-be assailants.

    He’d wear some kind of a gorget/turtleneck under the jacket to hide the join between it and the separate cowl–armored, but looks like ordinary fabric. I’ve been reading about a strange new kind of polymer fabric that is pliable but hardens upon impact, and this would be good for the cowl.

    The cape would be good old Memory Cloth; the belt, a hybrid of the Burton and Nolan models.

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