Throughout the course of the live-action Batman movie series, the Caped Crusader has had a number of outfit changes. Sometimes these have happened for practical reasons (improvements in technology), and sometimes these have been introduced simply to give Batman a new look.
Some of the Batsuits have been good; some of the Batsuits have been bad. But what are the best Batman movie costumes?
In this post the Batman movie suits get ranked – from worst to best. The rankings are based on practicality and resourcefulness, so don’t expect Batsuits to lose marks for nipples.
Adam West – Batman: The Movie (1966)
It seems harsh to say this, but Adam West’s Batman costume has to be at the bottom of the list. Not only is it the least imposing costume of all the live-action Batsuits, it is also the least practical.
Where is the body armour? Where are the defensive gauntlets? What was Alfred thinking when he let Bruce Wayne leave the Batcave in this costume?
This outfit gets points for the utility belt, which contains every device imaginable, but that won’t help the Caped Crusader if he gets shot point blank range while dancing the Batusi!
George Clooney – Batman & Robin (1997) Batsuit Mark II
During the final act of Batman & Robin, Batman gets a costume change. A very bad costume change.
The new suit includes a large silver Batsymbol on the chest, along with additional silver accents throughout. Not only does this turn Batman into a walking target, the design has no practical function whatsoever.
Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) The Nightmare Suit
Affleck’s Batsuits get a lot of love in this post (see below), but one of his costumes – the suit worn during the ‘nightmare sequence’ in Batman v Superman, simply doesn’t cut it. Oh, it might look cool, but is it really that practical?
A Batsuit, plus a trench coat and scarf… in the desert? Erm… unless the Caped Crusader has a built-in air conditioning system in the costume, he will pass out from the heat alone!
Michael Keaton – Batman (1989)
It might seem like sacrilege, but Michael Keaton’s first Bat-suit – as classic as it is – is a bit impractical. His movement is limited (especially in the head), and it looks very rough around the edges.
Sure, the costume stands up to a few bullets, as well as various encounters with goons, but it doesn’t feel like Batman is quite where he should be when it comes to crime-fighting. Did Alfred just throw this thing together?
Val Kilmer – Batman Forever (1995) Batsuit Mark II
Val Kilmer’s second Bat-suit, which he wears towards the end of Batman Forever, sees him swap out his Keaton-esque suit for a more distinctive costume. The Batsymbol on the chest has been blended into the costume, which makes the suit look cooler, and now it boasts sonar technology and a handy compartment in the utility belt to store coins.
Michael Keaton – Batman Returns (1992)
For Michael Keaton’s second outing as the Caped Crusader, his costume gets an upgrade. It’s subtle – some people don’t notice the difference – but it is a new suit.
Keaton’s Mark II costume is sleeker, and less cumbersome, offering better movement. Batman is also given new weapons to hang on his utility belt, but best of all his cape can form wings to help him glide through the streets of Gotham.
Val Kilmer – Batman Forever (1995) Batsuit Mark I
For Val’s first costume, it is very much an upgrade on Keaton’s second costume. There are a number of differences, but it is clear that stylistically the Caped Crusader is going for a certain look.
In terms of practicality, the head turn remains a problem, but this suit has a number of impressive functions including a gliding cape, an array of gadgets, and most interesting of all, a shield that protects Batman from fire!
George Clooney – Batman & Robin (1997) Batsuit Mark I
Say what you want about the Batnipples, but Clooney’s first Bat-suit – which he wears throughout the majority of Batman & Robin – is pretty impressive. Not only is it figure hugging and sleek, it also makes him a one-man Swiss army!
Slippery roads causing problems under foot? No problem, this suit has built in ice skates. Need to glide through the air? Yep, got it covered with a durable, gliding cape!
Climbing up and down walls aren’t a problem either as this suit is loaded with grappling hooks that shoot out at every opportunity. Heck, this suit even has a Bat-credit card tucked away in the utility belt for emergencies (and non-emergencies)!
OK, so the amount of attachments make Clooney closer to Inspector Gadget than Batman, but his suit is very handy. Very handy indeed.
Christian Bale – Batman Begins (2005)
Christian Bale’s first Batsuit for Batman Begins is built with a lot of care and attention. This suit isn’t about aesthetics, it is about ensuring a man who dresses up like a bat is well protected, with the right tools at his disposal.
Wrist gauntlets, a fully-stocked utility belt and a cape that can change shape are all key elements of the design. The only drawback? He still has limited head movement in the cowl!
Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Batsuit Mark I
Ben Affleck’s first Batman costume is largely grey, with a huge black Batsymbol on the chest. If this ranking was being scored purely on ‘cool’ factor, this costume would be a shoe-in.
What actually helps it place high on the list is the tactical aspects of the costume. It’s tight, well protected, includes a hefty utility belt and smaller ears (less costume for foes to grab on to).
The emphasis here is not so much on a suit that enhances Bruce Wayne, but rather a suit that allows Bruce Wayne to get to work. Affleck is a unit and the suit is simply a non-intrusive added layer of protection.
Ben Affleck – Justice League (2017)
Does it come in black? It sure does! How about goggles?
Affleck’s suit in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad is cool – it enhances his physique, while making sure not to restrict him. But the suit featured in Justice League goes one better, by dropping the grey in favour of black, then adding more protection.
Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Batsuit Mark II
How do you fight a being as powerful as Superman? You wheel out your most protective Batsuit available. The tank-like battle suit gives the Caped Crusader a little more protection when he’s going toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel and it certainly stands up to some beating.
The downside? It’s too bulky for your average fight.
Christian Bale – The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises (2008/2012)
And the best Batsuit has to be Christian Bales costume that he wears in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Not only does it have all of the benefits of his Begins suit, but it also fixes the pesky problem of the head turn.
Batman’s cowl is given much more movement, which means the Caped Crusader can actually shift his head from side-to-side without having to move his entire body. It’s the simple things that make the difference.
Thank you for stopping by I’ll Get Drive-Thru. If you are a fan of the Batman movies, or you simply wish to read more about the Caped Crusader, please feel free to take a look through more posts on this blog, including the recommended reading links below.