Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. - BATMAN Movie Costume Design
Over the years, this hero has been featured many times in live-action media showcased in movie theaters. This week, yet another film is being released that stars the grim detective, The Dark Knight Rises, which concludes a trilogy of stories directed by Chris Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne.
So let’s take a look at the many actors who’ve played the part and the costumes they’ve worn, shall we?
THE MOVIE SERIALS
Lewis Wilson didn’t do a bad job as Bruce Wayne, but his costume left a lot to be desired. With floppy ears, an ill-fitting mask, and a lighter-colored cloak than the Dark Knight is usually seen wearing, this Batman wasn’t exactly intimidating. The bat-symbol also had several stitched lines high-lighting its wings.
Adam West and Burt Ward both starred in the new series and a live-action movie came out between the first and second season. Batman: The Movie was a great success. This version of Batman was almost a literal interpretation from the comic book drawings. Just as Batman’s cowl was often cast in shadow, Adam West’s mask had a shadow painted on the front.
Keaton initially expressed doubt that he was right for the role, as he was not the Olympic-level athlete that Batman is often portrayed as in the comics. Burton reassured him that this version of Batman would not be wearing a form-fitting costume but instead would don battle armor. This Bruce Wayne was not quite strong enough on his own, so he would use armor to compensate for this.
A major weakness in Keaton’s suit was that it prevented him from being able to turn his head. This problem would continue through the next few versions of the live-action bat-suit.
Val Kilmer was cast in the role of Bruce Wayne. Chris O’Donnell joined him as Richard “Dick” Grayson AKA Robin. Batman wore two suits in the film. The first seemed to be Keaton’s basic style, but there were some differences. The neck was thinner, the torso constructed to look more like human muscles. The belt was now black like the suit, with bat-wing style sections. And there were nipples on the suit.
Later in the film, Batman dons a new suit that has built-in radar and targeting capabilities (though how that stuff works or helps Batman throw a Batarang better isn’t really explained). This suit was closer to a steel gray rather than black and had a giant bat-symbol rather than the yellow emblem.
And it still had nipples. Because of reasons.
The film was lame. No fault of the cast, but it was lame. It tanked.
In this movie, Clooney wears a similar costume to Kilmer’s first suit, although this time the raised bat-symbol and the circle around it are black, which seems a very odd design choice. And again . . . nipples.
Anyway, it’s a ridiculous costume that looks as if Batman auditioned for the Ice Capades. Fitting, since Mr. Freeze was in the film.
Moving on . . .
8 years after the previous movie, director Chris Nolan put together a reboot of the Batman film franchise. Nolan wanted to focus more on certain story elements from the comics and to create a world that was more grounded in reality, where Batman and his tools seemed far more possible. The movie Batman Begins starred Christian Bale in the title role.
The armor was also seen in a few different stages before it truly became the bat-suit. The cape was now cloth rather than rubber or any kind of material that matched the rest of the suit. The cloth was necessary since Batman used it in the film to glide from rooftop to rooftop, much as he did in many comics over the years, ever since his first appearance. Watching the movie, audiences saw Bruce Wayne install audio enhancements and a voice changer into the cowl. He also sprayed the entire suit with black latex paint so as to appear invisible to infrared camera. This suit was theatrical but utilitarian.
This version of the suit was also the first one that allowed the actor portraying Batman to turn his head somewhat.
This new cowl was based more closely on the design of a motorcycle helmet and the rest of the suit was now divided into smaller pieces to help the hero’s agility and motion.
[Alan Sizzler Kistler is a bi-coastal author, actor and comic book historian. He has written The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge, both available at Amazon and local bookstores. His Twitter handle is: @SizzlerKistler]FACEBOOK and TWITTER!