10 Best Batman Costumes Of All Time
When you’re Gotham’s foremost billionaire, it stands to reason that you possess a pretty hefty budget to blow on suits. That doesn’t stop once you take off the tux either, even if your extra-curricular activities happen to be conducted firmly under the radar. Look in the closet, and the Batman has a wardrobe like no other superhero’s.
All super-folk like to change it up once in a while (see Spidey’s black suit, and Superman’s jeans), but no-one else has so successfully managed to redesign his costume so often like Batman. Think there’s only a finite number of ways one can rejig a grey jumpsuit with a big bat on the chest? Think again; Batman has more signature ‘looks’ than Beyonce.
Here we take a look at ten of the best of them, taking in everything from his comic book origins to film and television. Unfortunately, there are only so many variations on yellow emblem/yellow belt one can allow for, so his Animated Series look, while utterly iconic, doesn’t make the cut. For entirely different reasons, don’t go expecting to see crimes against fashion like Zur-En-Arrh (originality will only get you so far), his Injustice suits (urgh), or Christian Bale (so many plates).
No nipples either. Sorry, Schumacher.
10. 60s Adam West
Scary? Certainly not. Iconic? You had better believe.
Paunch and all, Adam West’s caped crusader is the definitive live-action TV Batman, looking as though he had stepped right out of the comics of the time. The painted on eyebrows; the massive utility belt, the oval emblem; what the least serious of the Batmen lacks in menace, he more than makes up for in style.
Even today, West’s 60s style still resounds, so much so that he and sidekick Burt Ward made their welcome return in the animated movie Return of the Caped Crusaders and its sequel, jazzy Batsuit freshly pressed and looking fantastic as always.
The great West has since left us, but his legacy remains. And the funkiest of the Batsuits too.
9. Year One
As clean and simple as the Batsuit has ever looked. When Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli went back to the beginning, Mazzucchelli’s Batsuit was simple but effective; a black emblem, yellow pouch-y utility belt, black mask and cape. Just what a Bat needed to scare the utter crap out of Gotham’s gangster contingent.
Add to this Wayne’s still fairly lithe figure (we’re still years off the hulking beast of the Dark Knight Returns) and we have one of the more functional, human Batsuits ever created, nevertheless packing such neat-touches as the hidden sonar in his boot (in a sequence which made it all the way to Nolan’s Batman Begins) and belt chock full of wonderful toys
Since being dumped at the altar by Catwoman in Batman #50, the Bat has returned to this classic look – because who could forget such an iconic look?
8. The Dark Knight Returns
The re-emerged Batman dons multiple outfits in Frank Miller’s classic dystopian story, each of them a good look. First it’s the classic yellow-and-greys, complete with the oval chest emblem, before getting darker, losing the oval and going with a giant black bat. Finally, Batman brings out the Superman-buster outfit for his final showdown with the Man of Steel.
This, in turn, inspired Ben Affleck’s Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, to particularly cinematic effect. No matter how well Snyder did it though (visually, at least), Frank Miller’s original creation remains king; a chunky, utilitarian battle suit that one honestly believes could be capable of beating the snot out of Superman himself. Batman still loses (on purpose, granted) but it’s close, and it’s all down to that suit.
The giant Kryptonian-beating Batsuit not tickle your fancy? Well, there’s always Batman on horseback too.
Taking its cues from the Dark Knight Returns, Ben Affleck’s Batsuit is notable less for its design (although it does look good) but rather for being the most comic-book accurate suit since Adam West’s. The first time in a movie we’ve seen Batman wear anything but rubber and armour plates, Batfleck looks like Frank Miller’s Batman come to life.
However one feels about Batman v Superman or Justice League (and the Bat’s behaviour in the former) there’s no denying that Affleck looks the part; particularly during that incredible fight sequence. We look forward to seeing what future movies in the DCU have in store for us in the wardrobe department.
And talking of the future – special mention goes out to Dawn of Justice’s Knightmare suit, featuring a trenchcoat-and-goggles wearing Batman in the film’s most visually striking sequence. Say what you like about Snyder, but he knows how to make the Bat look good.
6. Batman 2016-2018
When it comes to the costume department, the New 52 set most of its heroes back considerably, doing away with Batman and Superman’s outside-underwear and forcing upon them multiple high collars, chinstraps and weird-looking wrist bracelets.
In 2016, Greg Capullo (no stranger to an awesome-looking Batsuit) sought to redress the balance somewhat, in a simple yet streamlined design which emphasised the good but hid much of the bad.
Instead of the yellow oval, there’s a subtle outline to the bat emblem, and the utility belt is redesigned in Tron-like yellow and blacks too. The gloves and boots are still military-style and chunky, but work with the simplicity of everything else. The purple cape lining is a nice touch too, and though Batman and Superman will always look weird without the outside-underpants, Capullo found a way of making it work.
5. Batman Beyond
What if Spider-Man was Batman? Set in the not-too distant future, teenage Terry McGinnis is the Batman, working with an aged Bruce Wayne to keep the streets free of crime.
Terry’s futuristic Batsuit is simple, but a modern classic, all black with only a handful of grey and red flourishes.
WB’s Batman Beyond has been off the air for years now, but Terry and his Batsuit live on, adopted by DC’s comics decision just like Harley Quinn before him. Much of that is due to the stark class of his Batsuit, swooping and flying across the futuristic Gotham skyline.
Terry might just be Spider-Man, except Batman, but his Batsuit is an all-timer.
4. Matches Malone
A Batsuit, but not technically a bat suit. To go the places where neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne could reach, the Dark Knight concocted (or co-opted) his Matches Malone identity – a swaggering, matchstick-chewing hoodlum with a Noo Jersey accent, sunglasses and 50s gangster moustache.
After Malone’s death (depending on which Earth continuity you happen to be reading), Batman would break out the make-up kit and disguise himself as the man, going deep undercover in Gotham’s underworld.
The Matches Malone identity may not be Batman’s most visually exciting Batsuit, but it is a useful one, and almost certainly his most impressive.
3. Detective Comics No. 27
The daddy of them all, without which there would be no Batman as we know him.
Looking at Bill Finger’s original design, it’s startling how little has changed. The cape’s a little weird and the gloves are purple, but otherwise, it’s all there. The grey bodysuit, black outside-underwear, chest emblem, pointy cowl and yellow utility belt… it’s all there.
A lot has changed since Batman’s debut in Detective comics No. 27 (the Caped Crusader no longer runs around with a pistol shooting folk, for one), but it’s a testament to Bill Finger’s original vision just how quickly this character captured the reader’s imagination and set him on the road to becoming (one of?) the greatest comic book character(s) of all time. The purple gloves have got to go, though.
2. Tim Burton Batman
Bruce Wayne’s a short-arse, his muscles are made out of rubber, the chest emblem looks weird and Batman can’t even move his head, let alone fight. On paper, the Batsuit of Tim Burton’s Batman (and its sequel, Batman Returns) shouldn’t work.
And yet, for comic book fans of a certain age, Michael Keaton’s is the definitive Batsuit. An all-black number save for the belt and chest, this is the coolest live-action Batsuit ever committed to screen – instantly iconic and, as Batman swoops in during the opening action sequence, so very legitimately Batman.
Burton and Keaton turn the lumbering lack of movement to their advantage too, giving Batman a slow but menacing walk, effortlessly dispatching goons with a well-placed punch to the head or kick to the stomach.
More functional and more faithful suits have visited the big screen before and after, but so few made it cool like Keaton. Even better, he had a matching car too.
1. Neal Adams 70s Batman
Like Adam West’s Batman, this one flies in the face of what many expect from Batman nowadays. Beyond the grey body, the Batsuit is so very bright, with a yellow emblem and utility belt, and almost ultramarine blue cape, cowl and underoos.
Neal Adams’ Batman is the perfect combination of new and old – the brightness of 50s and 60s Batman (including West), but with the physicality and fatherly sternness of modern Batman, before he went overboard.
For many, this is the Batsuit we picture when we think about Batman; one which inspired, in part, the look and tone of the Animated Series and was worn not by a gleefully violent vigilante but Batman the adventurer, friend, father figure and World’s Greatest Detective. It’s hard to picture any other era’s Batman pulling this one off. Unless, of course, you go around wearing it while cracking heads in the Arkham City DLC.
Adams has since returned to Batman in the utterly bonkers Batman: Odyssey. And, while the storytelling, writing and characterisation may have gone in some bizarre directions (there’s Batman with a gun again!), those duds look as incredible as they ever did. Some things never go out of fashion.