THE BATMAN’S COSTUME
For me, I have always found something so pure, clean, and basic about The Batman (and Robin's) classic comic book costumes. The outfits have always beautifully reflected the gothic, swash-buckling heroism, vivid color and extreme circumstance of the comic book world of Gotham City.
I must say, that from the VERY BEGINNING when The Batman films were announced, I always strongly objected to the notion that The Batman needed to wear any kind of protective armor
to wage his war against Gotham's criminal element.
Now, I know that this idea was NOT introduced first in Tim Burton’s 1989 film. In fact, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986 comic book mini-series) depicted this idea a full 3 years before Burton's "Batman".
But I believe that the character's overall movie look (with all that silly armor) suffered tremendously by becoming, less elegant, less gothic, less colorful, less sleek, overly lanky, overly sculpted, and far too high-tech. In some instances, the character has resembled a darn electric shaver gone wrong. Robo Cop in a Bat-cape.
To me, the Batman character is so much more skilled, so much more elegant, so much more mysterious and spooky
than to require something as basic and common
as protective armor. It is beneath him as a character. I'm always puzzled by the logic of (movie) Batman fans who suggest that the armor is really a NECESSITY (particularly in Nolan's Batman films), because it is (supposedly) more "realistic" for a non-superpowered man to protect himself out among gun-fire.
"Realistic"? Really? Well I think that there is NOTHING "realistic" about a man who dresses up as a BAT and hunts criminals from rooftops and back alleys. So I think we can put aside the "realistic" justification. After all, this is SUPPOSED to be a fantasy.
However, if “realism” is what you insist
upon when examining the merits of this "armor-clad" Batman, well then… let’s proceed.
Could someone please explain to me why is it that despite wearing this "protective" armor (in the movies) does The Batman have so many battle scars across his back chest, abdomen, and arms (as seen in Nolan's "The Dark Knight"). I mean, I KNOW why Bruce Wayne is so badly scarred in the comics (since for the most part, he wears NO ARMOR as The Batman). But why does the movie "protective" armor seem to FAIL to protect him so much?
At the opening scenes of Nolan's "The Dark Knight"
, The Batman's arm is mauled and injured by a an attack dog (who presumably bit through a "seam" in the armor). Ouch!
In "Batman Begins"
The Scarecrow sets The Batman on fire and sends him tumbling out of a window, crying for Alfred to help him... only to have a LUCKY RAINFALL (!) douse the flames. So... am I to presume that this "high-tech" "protective" suit is not fire-resistant?
Let's go even further back: How about in 1992's "Batman Returns"
, where The Batman battled Catwoman on a rooftop, and she actually stabbed THROUGH his "protective" armor with her damned cat claws! Meow!!
So, let's re-cap: The (movie) Batman's "protective" armor does NOT protect against a variety of slashing and stabbing weapons or even doggy fido's bite
(as evidenced by the criss-cross of scars on Bruce Wayne's torso and arms). The armor is NOT flame-resistant (as evidenced by the scene in "Batman Begins"), and it does NOT protect against a cat dame and her friggin' press-on fingernails.
Wow! That's... some "protective" armor. Of course, let us NOT forget how badly it limits his speed, agility, and natural movements.
My view: The Batman DOES NOT NEED ARMOR! He does NOT need it anymore than James Bond, or Indiana Jones, or Detective John McClane (from the Die Hard movies), or Frank Martin (from the "Transporter" movies), or Daredevil have needed it in their
To those who insist that The Batman (whether in movies OR in comics) should wear armor because it is more "realistic": I suggest that by your logic, The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, Two Face, The Penguin... THEY all need armor too!! With hardened psychotics and criminals like them always being hunted by the Police or by rival criminals (all of them heavily-armed), shouldn't THEY have armor too, then?
Of course, the villains do NOT wear armor in Gotham City because, dramatically-speaking, it is silly and pointless for them to do so. In my view, it is equally pointless for The Batman.
Furthermore, The Batman wearing armor destroys so many of the potentially dramatic possibilities of the character. With our hero dressed only in tights and the heavy cape, he is essentially working WITHOUT a net. Therefore he’d better be VERY good at what he does… or he could end up dead. NECESSITY, then, is what makes him so skilled, so precise, so elegant. Despite this, he is occasionally injured very badly, staggering home to Wayne Manor just barely alive, requiring the medical services of his combat-medic trained butler Alfred to save his life.
Wearing the armor just makes him an ordinary Joe in a bat-suit who clumsily marches into gun-fire (like the laughably BAD opening scene of Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman”). While dressed in protective armor, virtually anybody
(with enough money and insantity) could be Batman. Nothing special there.
But without armor, only a supremely-trained, olympic-level athlete, and incomparable martial artist could pull it off. An extraordinary man. This is Bruce Wayne.
The extensive 12-year training (in the Far East) in all of the various Martial Arts disciplines, ninja stealth techniques (like shadow cloaking, and deception), mastery of throwing weapons, escape artistry, meditation and mastery of body… THESE are the true
“weapons” that a spooky, gothic, night avenger like The Batman would utilize. Restrictive armor would actually hinder those skills (for the most part).
A thug facing off against (a properly-depicted version of) The Batman in a dark alley would never stand a chance… even without this silly movie armor. By the time the startled hood thinks to draw his weapon and fire, he would be emptying his clip at an empty shadow. The Dark Knight would then appear from behind
the loser, (emerging from yet another shadow, or a wall of steam or whatever) to take him out quickly and efficiently.
I understand all about depicting things "realistically" in a modern Batman film. But as I see it, at some point you have to let the fact that this is a FANTASY ADVENTURE shine through. And the two concepts are NOT mutually-exclusive. It IS possible to depict a fantasy adventure within a very realistic setting. But as a writer (or filmmaker), you must first TRUST the audience to suspend disbelief enough to accept a man who wears a Bat-suit and leaps off of 40-story tall buildings to fight crime.
The Batman has existed as a successful, powerful, and iconic comic book character for over 70 years, and yet no live-action filmmaker seems to be willing to TRUST that he will resonate well with audiences (as a fantasy-adventure character) un-changed from the original (comic book) source material. The creators of the Batman films are so out of touch with this character that they have NO CLUE how best to present him.
Right down to the simple, basic things like how best to have The Batman wear his cape, the filmmakers always get it wrong.
The Batman would NOT wear his cape thrown over his shoulders and with his chest puffed out (like, say, Superman).
Instead, The Batman would wear his cape in the tradition of vigilant CONSTABLES and night watchmen who patrol the rain-slick night streets of gothic European cities while wearing their cape CLOSED
in front of them. Wearing the garment in this way allows for the hands to be concealed so that they can produce weaponry from the utility belt as a surprise.
Besides which, wearing the cape closed gives the character a far more gothic and stately silhouette outline. A tall figure, outfitted in that way, and standing motionless in a steam-filled alley is creepy and un-nerving.
But a guy wearing a high-tech, overly sculpted body-suit of armor with a cape flipped back over his shoulders, and speaking in a painfully forced growl just looks... well… silly.
The (movie) Batman is always shown with his cape flipped back over his shoulders so as to show off that butt-ugly sculpted suit (even though logically he would have it closed in from of him).
At least Michael Keaton wore his cape correctly for a couple of scenes in ’89 and ‘92! But I guess these days you simply CANNOT cover up a multi-million dollar movie bat-suit with a cape… even if that IS the best way to depict the character