Batman Costume Changes From The 1940s Until Today

2000s Batman
2000s Batman | Source

Batman appeared in comics in 1939 created by Bob Kane. From the beginning Kane set out to make character dark and mysterious but a crime fighter with a strong sense of justice and ability to do the right thing. But he wasn't quite the Dark Knight we've seen in the films of the 2000s. This article examines the changes in the Batman and his costume alterations over the years from the early days of the 1940s, the more comic 1960s through the return to the more dark stories of the 1970s - 1990s and today.

The Batman has a long legacy as a complex superhero part of his allure came from being a bit of an anti hero. Developed in the 1940s when many superheroes like Superman were squeaky clean the batman came from the darkness shrouded in mystery.

1940s Batman
1940s Batman | Source

1940s Batman

The original Batman was known as "the Batman" and was introduced in Detective Comics. The costume was very specific and Batman took on the ideals of a vigilante on a quest in search of justice fighting against a variety of different villains. Upon the appearance of the Batman there was no Robin as of yet. The costume had long ears the cape went through changes appearing in tow sections, and then as bat wings. Batman's gloves did not yet have spiked parts and the bat symbol was a simple black bat.

1950s Batman
1950s Batman | Source

1950s - 1960s Batman

During the 1950s there was a rapid decline in the popularity of superheroes. But a rise in cartoon type comics as well as romance, western and other types. Many superheroes disappeared completely as comic book publishers switched to these formats. Batman didn't disappear but his comics began to contain many silly and campy stories taking on a more cartoon feel. He became very unlike the dark crime fighter we know today. It was during this time that things like the shark repellent bat spray and other silly things began to show themselves. Also the speeches of Adam West became quite funny as well as phrases that Robin would often say like, "Holy heart failure Batman!" But during the 1950s and throughout the 1960s this worked well to sell comics. During this period we begin to see the evolution of his suit. Shorter ears more bat-like shape, unusual white eyebrows and white lines around his nose. His black bat symbol now encompassed by a yellow oval and the appearance of the spiked ridges on his gloves.

1960s Batman
1960s Batman | Source
1970s - 1990s Batman
1970s - 1990s Batman | Source

1970s - 1990s Batman

During the 1970s after the television Batman series and silly comic stories had run their course many batman writers went back to the basics. They began to take a look at the old stories by Batman creator Bob Kane and wrote many stories returning the seriousness and darkness to the character. In some cases making him even more dark than he once was. The longer ears once again became part of the costume and his symbol became more rounded to fit within the yellow-gold oval. Throughout the comics this has remained the same many covers and in the films the costume has gone from the standard blue and grey to black. The only real exception in the comics was during the Knightfall story arc during the 1990s. At that time period Bruce Wayne had his back broken by Bane and chose another to carry on as the Batman. Unknown to Wayne the new batman had an insanity of his own. He made extreme alterations to the costume including a helmet, armor, additional weaponry and metallic claws.

Knightfall Story arc Batman 1993
Knightfall Story arc Batman 1993 | Source
2000s Batman
2000s Batman | Source

2000s Batman And Beyond

Although the comic drawn batman has pretty much remained the same since the 1990s the films have altered the costume upon occasion. Other than the change of blue and grey to black beginning in the movies the costume symbol on the chest has changed. The first films of the 1990s had the symbol encompassed in the yellow oval but beginning in the late 1990s the symbol became more of a silhouette of the bat. During the 2000s the shape of the bat symbol itself also underwent shape changes to become more rigid. The mask also was changed and brow furrowed to appear more menacing.

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Comments 8 comments

Dominique L profile image

Dominique L 4 years ago from Oregon

Interesting article. I'd like to ask you a couple questions though. First, do you think, since Kane pretty blatantly borrowed from Zorro to design the character, do you think the Zorro costume influenced the original Batman costume? I've never had the chance to really look at Zorro's costume.

And second, do you think the color changes in the costumes mentioned above reflect the eras in the same way?

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Domenick Dicce 4 years ago

Interesting hub.

A lot of crazy things happened to Batman over the year. The Batman family with Batwoman, Batgirl, Robin and their pet Ace the Bat Hound was probably the low point. It is interesting how the comics will shift to fit the movies and television even though it is the comics that inspired the scripts for these shows.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Looking back at the 50's & 60's, I can see where he was viewed as a comical character in comics and TV. Adam West protrayed him as such in his series. I prefer the Dark Knight versions to this now. Great history review of this Super hero's character and costume.

randslam profile image

randslam 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

Good job writing about a character who has undergone many cosmetic and personality changes over the last 70 years...voted up and interesting.

terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Dominique L - well in the sense that Zorro and Batman are both vigilantes, both wear masks, etc. there are similarities but other than that I wouldn't really say their costumes are really that similar. In terms of era I would say that it did effect the costume to a degree or at least the drawing of Batman.

terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Domenick Dicce - true, I think mostly during the 1950s and 1960s they tried a lot of different things. Personally I liked the 1940s comics, they were well before my time but I have seen and even read some of them. There is something about original created Bob Kane comics that makes it more real for me :)

terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

teaches12345 - No problem, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed my illustrations :)

terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

randslam - glad you enjoyed my article on Batman, I may do more superheroes in the future :)

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