BATMAN GOT DRESSED IN THE DARK1 of 12Batman’s been around for nearly 80 years, and in that time he’s had literally hundreds of different looks. Sometimes changes to his costume have been minor, but impactful – like the alterations to his logo over the years.
But others have been more, shall we say, comprehensive, giving the Dark Knight a head-to-toe makeover. Some of them have lasted for decades – and with good reason. Others (like the ones on this list) definitely made their mark, but not in the way the designers may have hoped.
At least one of the costumes on this list is getting a bit of a return as Azrael's Bat-armor just reappeared. And beyond that, Dark Nights: Metal will introduce a whole slew of JLA/Batman mash-ups (some of whom may just have some questionable fashion sense of their own).
Here’s our list of the worst Batman costumes of all time – some of which were intended to only survive one story, while others were (unfortunately) built to last.
BATMAN ONE MILLION2 of 12It’s telling how our vision of the future evolves as we move closer to it. For example, DC One Million’s future Batman is hilariously trapped in a late 20th century vision of the year 85,265 where an unknown Caped Crusader decided to take the worst of all worlds and put Jean-Paul Valley’s shoulderpads over Batman’s black costume.
Honestly, the worst crime of Batman One Million’s outfit is that it’s terminally boring except in the spots where it gets everything wrong. Somehow it’s both overly complicated and exceedingly simple.
That’s OK though – 2017’s version of Batman One Million would probably just look like an iPad or a Toyota Prius.
REBIRTH3 of 12We’ll concede this one’s not really that terrible, it’s just an overly complicated, less visually appealing version of the “New 52” suit, which was one of the more well-received revamps from DC’s 2011 reboot.
With the strange yellow stroke around the bat symbol, the para-military texture, and bulky accessories, the "Rebirth" Batsuit feels like a step in the wrong direction for a relaunch aimed at getting back to basics, and back to the classic versions of iconic characters.
ZUR-EN-ARRH4 of 12Remember when Batman got zoned out on space meth and became homeless? And remember how the only way for him to fight through this poison mind control was to wear a costume that looked like it went through the wash with the Trickster’s poofy shirt, and beat people up with a baseball bat?
The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was Grant Morrison’s attempt to legitimize the weird, sci-fi-fueled Batman stories of the 50s, and if you ask us, there is literally nothing more legit than a guy who is dressed like a clown’s nightmare wielding a Louisville Slugger covered in nails and bloody rags.
We’re not kidding - if Bruce Wayne really wanted to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, he should have skipped right to this.
STAN LEE'S BATMAN5 of 12Realizing a mere 40 years too late that Stan Lee was Marvel’s secret weapon, in 2001 someone at DC Comics finally got the bright idea to back a truck full of money up to the venerable mastermind’s door and have him “reinvent” alternate versions of their most iconic characters.
The results were not exactly cutting edge modern masterpieces. For example, you’re not likely to see Wayne Williams, who became Batman after being framed for a crime by a gangster named “Handz,” (we’re not making that up) replace Bruce Wayne any time soon.
Lee is such a creative mastermind that he effectively gave his Batman part of Spider-Man’s origin, making him a wrestler by the name of “Batman” who sought revenge against Handz (once again, “Handz” was a real character created by one of the greatest comic book writers who ever lived).
The ugly black cherry on top of the sundae was Williams’s costume, designed and drawn by Lee’s almost equally legendary artistic contemporary Joe Kubert. The “Just Imagine” Batman suit looked less like a superhero costume and more like an anatomical bat costume worn by a kid in a school play about the zoo.
Just goes to show that even some of the greatest creators ever can produce work that is – let’s put this tactfully – not excellent.
ZEBRA BATMAN6 of 12Batman has always been fashion forward, pioneering the all-black heroin chic style of the late 80s and early 90s, and beating the early 00’s animal print craze to the page by 40 years.
Seriously though, Batman isn’t that crazy. He didn’t do this on purpose. He became the “Zebra Batman” when he was bathed in the energy of the same machine that gave magnetic powers to his unquestionable greatest criminal nemesis the Zebra Man (but seriously, imagine the alternate Earth where people are upset at Jared Leto’s portrayal of Zebra Man in Suicide Squad).
The machine changed Batman’s DNA, and his… costume’s DNA..? and made it so he repelled all solid matter, as well as the eyes of anyone with taste. Batman was saved by, of all things, a fashion accessory, when Zebra Man’s magnetic belt reversed his polarity or something.
Being a comic book writer in the 60s must have been a real blast.
RAINBOW BATMAN7 of 12Guys, I think there’s been a mistake. Rainbow Batman belongs on the “Best” list, right?
Rainbow Batman started out as a gimmick story in which Batman had to wear a different colored costume every night because reasons, finally coalescing in him donning this little number, an unassailable fashion mega triumph that is perfect for a guy whose catchphrase is “I am the night!”
BAT NIPPLES8 of 12The misbegotten tragedy of the bat-nipples began with Batman Forever, but it was really director Joel Schumacher’s follow-up, Batman & Robin, that took the disturbing trend of bat-anatomy (a-bat-omy? Forgive us) to the next level.
Less a sleek super suit and more a rubberized, fetish-fueled body condom, George Clooney’s Batsuit may have actually been a brilliant post-modern subversion of the fears laid out in Seduction of the Innocent.
Or, it may have just had nipples on it.
At least Schumacher didn't get to do a Superman movie. We'd hate to think how he would have handled Warner Bros.'s "no red trunks" mandate.
BAT-BABY9 of 12Considering that multiple Batman comic books still come out every month, how incredible is it that DC Comics was apparently already scraping the bottom of the barrel for Batman stories in 1962? The saga of Bat-Baby and his Little Rascals get up is like a fever dream brought on by some kind of hyper-evolved Japanese flu. In it, Batman is de-aged to being four years old when “gangland takes revenge upon its great enemy” with the help of a “rogue scientist” named Garth.
It’s ironic that a costume (and concept) this stupid happened almost certainly as a result of Frederic Wertham’s assertions that Batman comic books caused delinquent behavior in kids, because the psychological ramifications on Dick Grayson of having to team up and fight crime alongside an infantilized version of his mentor and surrogate father are almost incalculable.
AZRAEL10 of 12There are a lot of fans who will defend this costume, and those fans were undoubtedly of a very impressionable age when Jean-Paul Valley took over for Bruce Wayne in the early 90s and “improved” his Batman attire by adding the uniforms of the entire line-up of X-Force on top of it.
Pouches, razor blades, extra straps – this suit has it all, hopefully including lumbar support for those unfathomably preposterous shoulder pads. Seriously, the so-called “AzBats” costume is one trenchcoat away from achieving perfect bad-90s-costume-homeostasis.
40's FILM SERIAL11 of 12The costume worn by Lewis Wilson in 1943’s Batman film serial is a chilling reminder of just how good we have it here in the 21st century. We may get all angry when Batman has goggles or Superman’s underwear is on the inside of his pants, but 70 years ago viewers had to try and get excited about the thrilling adventures of someone’s uncle in a leotard.
Even in stark black and white, everything is wrong with this, from the doughy stuffed animal bat ears to the baggy leotard, right down to his grampa-height utility belt. Did he not want it to get wet? Were his sweatpants that loose?
The next time you feel like you’ve got it real bad because Ben Affleck had to wear a brown trenchcoat for 15 minutes of Batman v Superman, remember that once upon a time, this was the definitive big screen version of the Dark Knight.
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