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Batman: The Dark Knight's Best Costumes From Every Decade

Batman Costume feature

Even after 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Batman is still going as strong as ever. While other comic characters have been around as long as Batman, the Dark Knight is one of the few comic book heroes who's been continuously published since his 1930s debut.

Now, CBR is taking a look back at the evolution of Batman's costume over the years, from the comics to TV and film.  Batman has seen a number of costumes over the years that have both reflected the time period and the types of stories told during these times, and now, we're rounding up some of the best.

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1930S - FIRST APPEARANCE

Detective Comics #27 featured the first appearance of Batman as he investigated "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, with Finger leaving his mark on the iconic costume that would launch one of the most popular literary characters in the world.

The original costume was very close to what we recognize as the Batsuit today, with the grey bodysuit and black cape. however, the cowl is slightly different, the cape is split and made to resemble bat wings, and the gloves are purple. This suit would get a modern update in the New 52 Year Zero reimagining of Batman's origin from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

1940S - THE SERIALS

The first live-action Batman debuted in 1943 in the form of 15-episode theatrical serials from Columbia Pictures. The serials were so successful they launched a follow-up serial called Batman and Robin, though that production featured a different cast.

The first live-action Batsuit was admittedly low-budget as most serial productions were, but it replicated the cowl of the hero's early appearances very well, with slight alterations to the Bat symbol that made it appear textured. The costume was surprisingly comic accurate, despite the quality of the materials, and would go on to inspire the designs for Adam West's live-action costume.

1950S - ZUR-EN-ARRH

The 50s were a bit of a strange time for Batman, and comics in general. Following the Comic Code Authority's ban of horror and supernatural characters, as well as graphic depictions of crime, characters like Batman were heavily censored and new sci-fi storylines introduced.

However, that decade gave Batman a wardrobe of crazy, infamous costumes like Zebra Batman, Rainbow Batman, and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, who was actually a superpowered alien version of Batman. Grant Morrison later brought this costume and character back in his Batman R.I.P. storyline, though it was explained away (along with much of the '50s lore) due to Dr. Hurt's hallucinogenic experiments.

1960- The Bat-Symbol

While the Batsuit had begun to evolve in its very first appearances into the suit we know today, it wasn't until the Silver Age of comics in the 60s that Batman received one of his most distinguishable costume features, the yellow oval Bat-Symbol.

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The change to the symbol was due to the need to trademark the logo for the upcoming TV show while also differentiating the Silver and Golden Age Batman stories. The first appearance of the yellow oval logo came in Batman #164 with art by Sheldon Moldoff, and it was later popularized by the Batman TV series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward.

1970s - NEAL ADAMS' BATMAN

In an attempt to move away from the campiness of Adam West's Batman, DC editor Julius Schwartz hired the now-legendary artist Neal Adams and writer Denny O'Neil to bring some darkness back to the Dark Knight, starting with 1970's Detective Comics #395.

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While the costume was largely the same, Adams made several key refinements to the Batsuit that remained core parts of Batman's look for the next several decades. Adams made Batman's logo more oblong, which became the default design for the Bat-Symbol going forward. Adams hyper-detailed style also emphasized Batman's physique in a way that had rarely been done before and has often been imitated since.

1980S - YEAR ONE

The '80s continued Batman's progression from campy to dark that began in the 70s, and the character got a massive creative push in that direction from Frank Miller, who left his touch on the Dark Knight in multiple ways through the decade. Miller took readers to a dark future in The Dark Knight Returns, which featured the darkest and most violent Dark Knight fans had ever seen in a simplified Batsuit.

He then teamed with artist David Mazzucchelli to tell the story of Bruce Wayne's first year operating as Batman in Gotham City, which also introduced a streamlined reimagining of Batman's first costume that quickly became a fan-favorite. The Year One costume would influence almost every costume that followed and has even reappeared as Batman's main costume a few times over the years.

1990S - KNIGHTFALL BATMAN

After the success of director Tim Burton's Batman in 1989, Batman reached new heights and notorious lows throughout the 90s throughout the 90s. After the new villain Bane broke Batman's back, the Dark Knight's mantle was passed down to Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael, who quickly redesigned the costume.

The Knightfall-era Batman costumed encapsulated everything that defined that era's superhero costumes, from an excessive amount of pouches to unnecessarily complex armor and even razor-sharp claws. However, Valley returned to his Azrael identity shortly after the Knightfall storyline that birthed him, and Bruce Wayne returned in a much more familiar Batman costume.

2000S - THE DARK KNIGHT

While Batman's 1989 film featured a solid black costume that wowed fans, fans were similarly surprised in 2005 when Christian Bale donned a new militaristic version of the Batsuit in director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, which was created by costume designer Lindy Hemming.

The costume got another tweak towards perfection for the sequel The Dark Knight, which is one of the best representations of Batman's costume ever shown on the big screen. The costume has inspired other takes on the character, including his appearance in the fan-favorite Arkham video game series, and even influenced how other superhero costumes were designed throughout Hollywood.

2010S - REBIRTH

Like every DC character, Batman's costume received a modern redesign in the New 52 reboot. A few years later, the DC Universe went through yet another reboot for the Rebirth era, and Batman received his best costume of the new millennium, thanks to longtime Bat-artist Greg Capullo.

The new costume kept the overall design of the New 52 outfit while updating the cape with a purple interior that homaged Batman's debut costume's gloves. The logo was also a reimagined merger between the classic black bat logo and the yellow oval of the Silver Age. However, Batman has since returned to a version of his always-iconic Year One costume.

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