Batman + Attire = Battire?
You’re not here to read wordy intros. Let’s get straight to it!
Classic Blue-and-Grey Batsuit
Although I have no proof of this, I remain convinced that this suit exists because of a printing error. I feel like the blue is supposed to be much darker, because I can’t see anyone sneaking up on someone else while wearing bright blue.
Of course, Wolverine does that with bright blue and yellow, so maybe I’m wrong. Or maybe comics aren’t supposed to be realistic.
This is my favourite Batsuit of all time, because it’s from the era when Batman was the world’s greatest detective and not just some rich schmuck with a fetish for military gear. This Batman outfit lets you know that you’re going to read about a dude collecting evidence like Sherlock Holmes while acting and looking like a cross between a wrestler and a ninja.
And not, say, some idiocy about Commissioner/Captain/Whatever Jim Gordon being Batman in a giant powersuit that looks less like a bat and more like an anime bunny. Yes, that happened. No, I’m not addressing it further.
Dark Knight (Comic Universe)
You might be able to tell, but this is probably the most important Batsuit of all time – especially if you enjoy modern Batman stories.
While I love Batman ‘66 (the old TV show with Adam West), it’s no secret that it impacted the Batman comics in a negative way. The comics soon had a much lighter tone (just like the TV show), which fans didn’t enjoy. Many of them waited decades for Batman to return to his dark and gritty roots.
This Batsuit represents a return to that darkness.
It comes from a Frank Miller comic, which was set in a possible future. You can see the Batman under the cowl is somewhat aged, and well past his prime. You might be thinking ‘That’s crazy talk, he looks like a beefcake’ but Batman’s strength has never been his – uh – strength.
His lack of agility and much slower reaction time (due to his advanced age) meant that this Batman was much more brutal and much less forgiving.
I remain convinced (again, there’s no real proof) that this Batsuit (or, more likely, what it represents) is responsible for the grim and gritty character reboots that plagued the ‘90s. And plagued really is the right word, believe me.
The Batman Beyond universe is similar to the Dark Knight universe (the comic one, not the woefully inferior film one where Batman is voiced by a cartoon bear for some reason).
It features an over-the-hill Batman who can’t be Batman anymore, but this time around he’s even older so he’s made himself a Batsuit which is more like Iron Man armour.
Eventually, it all becomes to much for him and he retires from Batmanning.
Eventually, through a bizarre series of events, a young man named Terry McGinnes becomes the new Batman. This suit actually looks wrong here – Terry has a much smaller build, looking more like a Robin than a Batman.
You’ll notice that the suit doesn’t appear to have a cape – it has retractable air-foils instead (similar to the suits worn by real-life extreme wingsuit gliders).
This is the best Batman.
It’s not the best suit – in fact, the suit itself is kind of drab, and the metallic codpiece just looks, well, strange.
This is the suit from Batman Incorporated, which is a franchise that Bruce Wayne started in the comics. The idea is that every continent (and eventually most countries) could have their own, Bruce-Wayne-approved Batman – such as David Zavimbe, the African Batman known as Batwing (because naming black superhero characters after well-known equipment and/or tools isn’t remotely problematic).
This is why this is the best Batman – because it’s literally the only time in his 80 year history that he’s actually tried to use his fortune to benefit the general population.
You might say ‘He paid for the Justice League Watchtower’ to which I say ‘Oh, and are civilians allowed on the Watchtower to escape persecution or genocide?’ to which you say ‘Screw you, you know what I mean’ to which I say ‘Screw you, you know what I mean too.’
Alternatively, you might say ‘Yeah, I see your point’.
Batman Incorporated was soon squashed by DC comics because of course it bloody was.
If you’ve read any of my ‘History of’ articles on this very site, you’ll notice that the in-universe origins of a character always starts with a little blurb about comic continuity and how the third Robin wasn’t actually Robin after DC’s New52 reboot.
Instead, he was Red Robin, and that’s his outfit there.
There’s no great story there, I just thought you might like to see what Red Robin looked like.
Although I don’t really rate Harley Quinn as a character (oh a violent rapist with daddy issues, how incredibly creative and not at all problematic), I’ve included this outfit here because it’s a pretty good example of how to redesign an outfit.
The black-and-red motif from her original look is still here, along with the reverse-colour diamonds. She could probably use some more body armour, but hey – this was the first major redesign of Harley Quinn and it was still a damn fine job.