Let’s be honest here. While the iconic hi-tech suits worn by all the live-action Batmen have been unique and exciting in their own ways, none of them have been too comfy to wear.
Take Michael Keaton’s seminal 1989 Batman suit. It was stylish and iconic, but poor Keaton had no way to rotate his head under the cowl, resulting in some questionable movement and fight choreography:
A new-age Batman needed a new suit, and for Robert Pattinson’s take on The Batman, things were going to be decidedly more intense.
Before Matt Reeves’ team of costume designers built a custom-fit batsuit for Pattinson, he had to first clear screen-tests back in 2019. Unfortunately for him, the only available batsuit was Val Kilmer’s outfit from 1995’s Batman Forever — yes, bat-nipples and all.
“Part of the tradition is that when you’re playing Batman at Warner Bros., you don’t just do an audition, you do a screen test and they need to see you in a Batsuit,” said director Matt Reeves. “But they don’t make you a Batsuit because that’s a very involved process. So what you do is you put on an old Batsuit. You put on the one that fits you.” And luckily, or unluckily for Pattinson, it just so happened to be Kilmer’s.
“You could see Rob transforming immediately,” Reeves continued. “The first thing that you do is you put it on and then he came out and looked at himself in the mirror, and he just turned to me and said, ‘It’s quite transformative.’ I said, ‘Sure is.’ That was an amazing experience.”
Despite the initial excitement, things quickly went south. “[It] was significantly too small for me, and it was an arduous experience,” said Pattinson, who is a few centimeters taller and considerably more bulked up for the role.
“He [started] sweating in the suit because it was really warm and so old that when he started heating up, [the cowl] started kind of getting misshaped,” says Reeves. “It was also funny. It was crazy.”
Soon after the ordeal with Kilmer’s old suit, costume supervisor Dave Crossman and Batsuit chief artist Glyn Dillon paired their skills to craft Pattinson’s new suit. Designed to reflect a younger Batman with a more rough-spun, homemade aesthetic, it’s easily a top-tier batsuit, brimming with personality.
“There are little blood stains on it. There’s kind of grazes where it’s been hit with bullets and kind of just the wear and tear of someone who’s been out fighting every night,” says Pattinson. “It felt like a really new thing… It looks like a soldier’s armor in some kind of strange parallel universe where you have to wear little ears on top of your head as well.”
The new suit also reflected Matt Reeves’ vision of an agile, capable Batman that could take on several foes at once, and this shows in how incredibly mobile and easy-to-wear the suit is.
“It kind of backfired on me as well,” Pattinson admitted, considering the suit’s flexible nature. “In the costume fitting, I ended up doing loads of somersaults and stuff, and then they added all those into the fight scenes. You can do like a couple of somersaults in it, but it really gets old pretty quickly,” he says.
Pattinson also drew parallels between the hidden gun mechanism in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic, Taxi Driver, and his suit’s grappling gun. The iconic tool has been part of Batman’s kit for decades — while previous films used a handheld device to fire Batman’s grappling hook, Pattinson’s is a much more offensive tool — fired from concealed compartments, to swing around Gotham and attack foes.
“The grapple gun is, I think, in every single Batman movie, but I’m not sure how many times he used them so defensively [as he does in The Batman],” said Pattinson. “It’s used as a weapon. And that’s quite a lot, which is quite fun. Again, it’s very rudimentary. It’s kind of based on Travis Bickle, the gun mechanism, which he has in Taxi Driver.”
The suit even features a unique twist on the iconic chest-plate, which was described by the actor as ‘incredibly difficult to design’.
Unlike previous ornamental designs, Pattinson’s bat-crest can pop off, serving as a handy blade that actually comes into use during a crucial scene of the film.
The Batman is currently in theaters worldwide.
(Featured Image Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment, @robertpattinsonoriginal/Instagram)