Batman jumped to live-action adaptations way back in 1943 with the serial film shorts featuring the Caped Crusader. Since then, there have been several small and big screen outings of The Dark Knight. As costume design advances and social conventions change, so do Bruce Wayne’s crime-fighting duds. Here’s a look at some of more, shall we say… interesting choices filmmakers have made with the world’s greatest detective’s costume.
Batman 89′ Can’t Turn His Head
Tim Burton’s turn at the helm of The Caped Crusader’s 1989 feature film was a return to gothic, serious form for the character that resonated with fans. Since the 60s, the mainstream had associated Batman with camp due to Adam West’s decidedly tongue-in-cheek TV series. However, one thing about Michael Keaton’s sleek, padded black suit would have been right at home in the 60s comedy series.
The Dark Knight’s cowl was fixed in one piece, meaning the actor inside was unable to turn his neck. Needless to say, this called for some inventive (and awkward) movements. Strangely, this design flaw wasn’t fixed until 2008’s The Dark Knight, when Christian Bale’s Batman was finally given a neck that could turn.
The Dark Knight Watches Make-Up Tutorials
Listen, we all quietly know that every Batman since Keaton has worn blackout makeup around their eyes so that the mask blends well. It was even parodied in the superhero satire Kick-Ass when Nicholas Cage applies his own eye makeup. However, we suspend our disbelief and try not to think of Bruce Wayne applying mounds of eyeliner before donning his costume.
Not so with 2022’s The Batman. Director Matt Reeves made the bold choice to have his leading man Robert Pattinson proudly sport eyeshadow out of costume. When the first images of Pattinson in character were released, fans were understandably shocked.
Pattinson’s smudged makeup and floppy, parted hairstyle earned him the nickname of “emo Batman.” However, Reeves stood by his artistic choice. “You can’t wear a cowl and not wear that,” Reeves told Esquire UK at the time. “All of the Batmen wear that.”
The Batsuit Has Nipples, Because…
Surely the most infamous Batman costume choice belongs to Joel Schumacher during his tenure as the director of the 90s-era Bat-films Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. The bat-suit had been overly anatomical since 1989, with foam padding muscles. Schumacher and company went ahead and took it a step further, adding nipples to the costumes of both The Dark Knight and his partner, Robin.
In fairness, Schumacher’s film leaned back into the camp of the Adam West era. Still, the nipples just exist as a distraction, never commented on or the focus of a gadget (Bat-Nipple-Laser Beams, anyone?). It remains a chaffing sore spot for Bat-fans to this day. Still, what did we expect from a director that playfully focused on the Caped Crusaders’ rear ends during their suit-up sequence?
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