This is a guest article by Kate Southgate who has written this cool historical insight into the Batsuit. If there any other fans or people who would like to be a guest writer. Please contact us. Without further ado, here’s Kate Southgate’s article, “The History Behind the Batman Suits.”
The history behind the Batman suits
Batman is an iconic character that has never failed to capture the imaginations of thousands of comic book fans, but one thing that has changed through his time is his crime fighting abilities and of course the famous suit. We’d like to take you on a trip down memory lane and through the ages to discover how the evolution of the Batsuit.
When asked who was the first ever Batman actor, many think of Adam West, but they’d be wrong. In fact there were two Batmen before West got his break. Lewis Wilson was the first actor to take on the role of Batman, followed by Robert Lowery and then Adam West, who remains one of the most recognised Batman figures. All of their suits looked uncannily similar, the only difference being the yellow symbol that was introduced in Adam West’s suit – something that could be connected with the growing popularity of colour TV. As these Batmen were seen more as a masked Sherlock Holmes the suit was primary made of cloth, they weren’t in need of the armour that we see today. The less said about the underwear outside the tights though, the better.
After Adam West took the TV series to the big screen (the first film that was authorised by DC Comics – Andy Warhol made the first unauthorised film), Batman underwent a make-over to suit a modern and savvy audience. Gone were the spandex, tights and underwear and replacing it was a suit that looked more like armour.
Michael Keaton was the first modern day actor to take on the role and designers had a field day overhauling the once iconic suit into an ensemble that would see bullets bouncing off it. Initially designers crafted 28 sculpted latex designs, 25 capes and six headpieces until they finally got it right with a muscular body and chest plate. However, it was extremely restricting for the actor to move in.
The Panther Suit worn by Val Kilmer took on the same aesthetics as Keaton’s ensemble. However, it was redesigned to give Batman an edgier feel and later down the line the yellow bat insignia on his chest had disappeared. Weapons were also added to the utility belt, which was now black instead of a deep gold. Gadgets have always been a part of the Batman story, but it had now become part of his suit illustrating how audiences and their demands had changed.
It seemed that the camp days were long behind Batman and then George Clooney came in with his now-infamous nipple suit. The casting of Clooney and the new Batsuit could possibly be linked to the female audience the Batman franchise was now attracting. The body of the suit was inspired by ancient Greek statues, known for possessing the perfect body; again something perhaps a female audience would be more bothered about than the male viewers.
Christian Bale is the latest Batman to have come onto the big screen and not only did his suit have an overhaul, so did Batman’s personality. The cheese and campiness of Batman had once again been scraped and replaced with a grittier character, the Dark Knight. In the first film, Bale’s undersuit was constructed using neoprene, which was then attached to latex sections, giving him a lot more freedom to move.
However, in the second and third instalments Bale’s suit was created using 200 individual pieces of rubber, fibreglass, metallic mesh and nylon to increase his mobility. The headpiece was also revisited with designers taking inspiration from a motorcycle helmet. The neck piece for the first time was separated from the mask allowing Christian Bale to move his head freely.
The Batsuit has undergone many transformations to suit the audience, the actor and the storyline making Batman a chameleon that will be able to fight crime no matter the decade.
The history behind the Batman suits has been written by AFD, one of the UK’s busiest fancy dress retailers. Have a look at their wide selection of costumes that also includes a range of Batman suits.