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Ranking Batsuits: 25 Years of Dark Knight Fashion

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

For the 25th anniversary of Tim Burton's Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, let's examine the Batsuit and all its variations since. One of Burton's biggest decisions before making his film was how to design the iconic suit. He saw the costume as an intimidation factor and couldn't imagine it in any color but black. It was a bold decision considering the Bat's original suit in the comics is gray and blue. But Burton had a modern vision. The campiness of the comics and the original TV show were gone and replaced by a dark color palette more in line with Batman artists like Frank Miller and Brian Bolland. The Dark Knight was getting a makeover and the result was a new kind of superhero movie. 

Since Batman in 1989, there've been no shortage of new adaptations. In the decades since, we've been treated to seven Caped Crusader movies (with an eighth due out in two years). Two of the movies even used different Batsuits. So let's rank them all and see where we stand now, 25 years later.

11. Batman & Robin (1997) - Suit 1 
Clooney's infamous "nipple suit" is easily the worst of the Batsuits. In addition to the superfluous nips, it's bluer in tone with a like-colored utility belt and it features pop out ice skates! Awful.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

10. Batman & Robin (1997) - Suit 2 
The weirdest Batsuit is the "Arctic Suit" seen below which not only looks like Halloween, it features an enormous codpiece — a hilarious homage to Greek sculptures which director Joel Schumacher called "perfect bodies" and "anatomically correct." Both suits used in Batman and Robin earned homoerotic catcalls in the press. Seems about right.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

9. Batman Forever (1995) - Suit 1
"The Panther Suit" worn by Val Kilmer in Batman Forever was actually the first nipple suit, but nobody remembers it for some reason. Irregardless, it's still better than both of Clooney's since it doesn't feature ice skates or a ludicrous color scheme.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

8. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The sleek animated design of Batman: The Animated Series continued in its full-length movie version. The Batsuit is a cool update from the original comic book and a direct influence on the newest Batman reboot: Batman v Superman.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers Family Entertainment)

7. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Director Zack Snyder released the below photo earlier this year, giving us a glimpse of Hollywood's latest version of the Batsuit. The blocky upper body looks like the animated version and the smaller ears are more in line with the old TV series, but this suit is much more closely related to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns artwork, which means it's probably a two-toned color scheme that will look like this.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

6. Batman Forever (1995) - Suit 2 
The second Batman Forever suit is the best of the two worst Caped Crusader movies (Batman Forever, Batman and Robin). It updates the look and, even though the cowl has air vents, still looks pretty badass thanks to the oversized bat symbol across the chest. It was the first suit to do that.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

5. Batman (1989)
Keaton's original Batsuit is only this high because it influenced all the other suits on this list. Burton made two brash decisions regarding the design: He went with body armor over spandex and he chose black instead of gray and blue. The suit also features the best known bat emblem, although the yellow is a little campy in retrospect. People often complain about the immobility of the neck, but I like how it forced Keaton to adjust his movements. 

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

4. Batman Returns (1992)
Keaton's second Batsuit is basically a more evolved version of his first. It's better fitted to his body and features the comic book's more stretched bat emblem. It also was the first suit to sport muscular outlines, something that's been replicated since.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

3. Batman Begins (2005)
Starting with Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan gave the Dark Knight a state of the art Batsuit designed to reflect the genius of Lucius Fox's Applied Sciences Division and the practicality of Nolan's overall vision. Batman Begins stripped the hero down to his basic elements and retold the origin story. Nolan wanted to create a "real" version of Batman and the suit reflects that: It's military armor that Bruce Wayne spray paints himself. 

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The top two Batsuits are essentially the same as Nolan introduced the look in The Dark Knight and kept it for The Dark Knight Rises

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)

1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The number one Batsuit of them all is the aforementioned Kevlar-plated, futuristic design donned by Christian Bale in the final two Nolan films. It's requested in The Dark Knight by Bruce Wayne because he wants to move his head. "Sure makes backing out of the driveway easier." But Fox installs the bulletproof armor as well and divides it into different sections for maximum mobility. The bat emblem is reduced and updated and the arm blades retract and fire. Overall, this suit is just beautifully-designed and worthy of the iconic character who wears it.

Ranking Batsuits - Dark Knight Fashion from the Past 25 Years
(Warner Brothers)
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