Ever since his debut in 1939, our favourite caped-crusader has donned many iconic outfit styles. Be it the campy, albeit comic-accurate one worn by Adam West, or the more technical and tanky-built one used by Ben Affleck. The purpose was the same — to instill fear in the minds of Gotham’s criminals. With Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson ready to put their spin on the character this week, we take a look at how the legendary cape and cowl has evolved over the years.
Contrary to popular belief, Adam West wasn’t the first actor to bring Batman to live-screen. Back in 1943, Lewis Wilson had the unfortunate luck to wear the first-ever Batsuit. As expected, the costume was weird and clunky with pointy bat ears. It did more to humour Gotham’s criminals than intimidate them.
In his live-action appearance, Adam West’s take on Batman was like watching the comic book pages come to life — for good and bad reasons. While it may be hard to imagine the Dark Knight brooding on top of a gargoyle statue in a colourful onesie now, it does remind us of happy nostalgic times rather than serious practicality.
Some say this is where Bruce Wayne’s alter ego really came into his own. Inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Tim Burton’s Batman set a tone of a dark, surreal world of Gotham, perfectly in sync with Michael Keaton’s costume.
Sadly, Val Kilmer’s portrayal of the Dark Knight was also one of the most unmemorable ones. In his attempt to appeal to a younger audience, Director Joel Schumacher redesigned the Batsuit to look overly chiselled. Not to mention, this is the subtle beginning of the infamous “bat nipples.”
Who can forget the infamous “bat nipples” on George Clooney’s suit? Just like Batman Forever, in his second outing, director Joel Schumacher wanted to replicate the skin-tight costumes worn by superheroes in comic books and animated TV shows. So he doubled down on the effort that went into Kilmer’s suit. The result was hilarious. While we understand and empathize with his intent, the outcome always leaves us laughing.
While Joel Schumacher pushed the caped crusader down a bat-infested cave, Nolan’s revamp resurrected the franchise with a dark and gritty tone set in the 21st century (excuse the metaphor). This can be echoed in Bale’s suit, which trades in the “bat nipples” for a realistic Kevlar-like armour, capable of handling anything thrown by the Dark Knight’s rogue gallery.
Director Zack Snyder knew he needed his Batman to take on the mighty powerhouse that is Superman. For this, Snyder borrowed heavily from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, making him into a juggernaut of justice, who could only be stopped by the magical word that is “Martha”. No matter what you think of the Ben Affleck movie, the suit looks like it was taken right from Miller’s legendary comic book.
Matt Reeve’s take on Batman is the most unique one so far. Inspired heavily from Detective Comics and Batman: Year One, the upcoming movie will follow Robbert Pattinson’s character starting his journey as the caped crusader. This theme is reflected in his suit, which looks like it’s coming into its own.