10 Biggest Changes To Batman’s Design Over The Years

Batman is perhaps the most recognizable character in superhero comics, if not American culture at large. This is due, in large part, to his iconic costume and logo of him. While there is some debate today over who was more influential over the original design, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s Batman costume is recognizable from the get-go, way back in 1939.

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Coming up on almost an entire century of Batman, it’s no surprise his costume and look have undergone many tweaks, alterations, and modernizations. Some of these are fun, silly one-off instances, but others have established what fans think of as the Batman of that era. Many artists have adjusted or drastically altered the original design, sometimes for narrative purposes, other times for purely aesthetic reasons.

10 Original Debut (1939)

Batman first appeared in Detective Comics Issue #27 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He is recognizable as the world’s greatest detective fans know and love today. The iconic black and gray suit complete with cape, cowl, and yellow utility belt remain a part of the character to this day. However, there are several key elements that would quickly change for the character. The most noteworthy example might be his silly-looking purple gloves from him. Pretty soon, these would be done away with, and the ears would get pointier — but this is the definitive look of early Batman.

9 Classic Silver Age (1940 – 1964)

Although Batman would acquire many zany and colorful outfits during his more ridiculous silver age comic books (such as Zebra Batman), the main costume would remain as one that is still recognized as “classic”, perhaps kid-friendly Batman.

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Although Batman’s costume had gradually changed since his debut, by Batman Issue #1 in 1940, it was in full form as the gray and blue. Now, only his speedo and his logo were black, with a blue cowl, boots, and gloves. This look would remain largely stagnant with minor changes for the next couple of decades.

8 The Yellow Circle Is Added To The Logo (1964)

In 1964, DC publisher Julius Schwartz took over the reins of Batman and Detective Comics. His first move was to draw a bold, yellow circle around the iconic Batman insignia, establishing this as “New Look” Batman. When Neil Adams took over the book in the late 60s, he would go on to lengthen the ears on the cowl and heighten the dramatic, billowing nature of The Dark Knight’s cape. Other artists would follow this trend for a while until even more influential creators took over the book.

7 Frank Miller Updates The Classic (1986)

In The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, Frank Miller offered two different but equally influential looks for Batman. In TDKR, Miller shortened the ears for an older, stockier Batman. He also took the costume back to its roots, utilizing the gray and black color scheme.

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Frank Miller also decided to stretch the bat logo across the hero’s whole chest. This look would heavily influence the character on screen, especially the Ben Affleck version. Miller established that Batman wears armor underneath his costume and also gave fans the first of many Bat-Mech suits.

6 Batman (1989) Goes Black And Yellow

An extremely striking and influential design surprisingly didn’t come from the pages of the comic books, but instead from the incredibly successful Tim Burton Batman film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Bob Ringwood would design the costume, stating he hated the blue knickers of comic Batman and wanted to go all black, like a bat. Ringwood learned that this had been Kane’s original (apparently) but couldn’t be executed on the page because of the difficulty of intention of black-on-black printing. The Burton movie would establish Batman’s suit as plated body armor. This became the norm for Batman across most media, not just in films.

5 Jean-Paul Valley’s Azrael Armor (1992)

When Batman was put out of commission for a while during the knightfall storyline by the threatening Bane, Jean-Paul Valley took over as Gotham’s protector under the alias of Azrael.

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Jean-Paul utilized basic design philosophies of the Batsuit, but altered the colors dramatically, going for a blue, silver, and gold look and blending it with his “Avenging Angel” armor. Although Batman has used metal armor before, Azrael’s was specifically medieval-inspired and far more “weapons-focused” than most of Bruce Wayne’s suits.

4 Back In Black (1995)

When Bruce Wayne finally returned to the mantle of Batman after knightfall, I debuted a costume that was heavily inspired by the two Tim Burton Batman movies. This costume was all black except for a yellow belt and oval around the logo. Batman wore fins on the gauntlets that matched the ones on his boots. This design was intended to strike fear into the superstitious and cowardly lot of criminals Batman needed to reassert himself with. However, the costume didn’t last long before artists returned to the gray and black scheme and removed the yellow oval.

3 batman beyond (1999)

Another huge costume change would once again come not from comics, but in the form of an animated series. the very successful cartoon, batman beyond, introduced fans to Terry McGinnis, a high schooler living in future Gotham. The young protagonist somewhat accidentally stumbled into the role of Batman. With a senior Bruce Wayne serving as his Oracle, McGinnis proved himself as a very capable, slightly more technology focused vigilante. The all-black suit with a red logo was undeniably sleek and soon became iconic.

two The Rook Bat Armor (2014)

While Bruce Wayne was supposedly dead, police commissioner Jim Gordon took on the role of Batman for a while. This costume, given to him by Bruce Wayne, is featured towards the end of Snyder and Capullo’s lauded New 52 Batman run and is similar to the batman beyond look in a few ways.

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The most striking difference between this and most bat suits is the lack of a cape. This suit also features a gold outline bat-logo, magnetic boots, and electronics keeping Gordon in communication with GCPD at all times.

one Batman Rebirth: Bruce Is Back (2016)

The most modern costume featured, it was designed once again by Capullo and is a blend of almost all of Bruce Wayne’s previous ideas. Snyder and Capullo wanted Bruce Wayne’s return to the mantle to be significant story-wise and visually. Because of this, they decided on a design that would combine all of the previous elements of the Batman costume. It’s perhaps most similar to the Year One design, with notable differences including a golden outline to the logo, gauntlet-like gloves, and a purple hue to the cape’s interior, paying homage to Batman’s original gloves.

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