By Josh Reilly B.
The Batman released to rave reviews and reception from fans and critics alike, with Robert Pattinson’s take on the Caped Crusader proving to be a particular high point for many. Unlike previous versions of Batman, which were often crime fighters but not necessarily detectives, Pattinson’s iteration is attempting to solve and untangle a city-wide mystery throughout the nearly three hour runtime, including his goal to unmask the serial killer behind the high profile murders taking place. It’s a direction that makes Pattinson’s Batman feel more akin to Brad Pitt character’s in Seven or Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac rather than Christian Bale’s version of the DC superhero, with the mystery and detective aspect so heavily emphasized here.
This is not the only point of uniqueness in Matt Reeves’ film, as the suit worn by Pattinson differs greatly from the previous versions and stands on its own compared to the others. The suit is raw, real and feels and looks like something a real life Batman, if he were to somehow exist, would wear. This is a purposeful design and theme of the suit as Reeves’ film embraces the realistic side of the character, just as Christopher Nolan did in his three Bat-films.
Recently, costume designers David Crossman and Glyn Dillon spoke with Variety on how they crafted this new suit for Batman. Throughout the film, Batman is involved in many fight sequences, all of which are directed in a personal way by Reeves, with Pattinson clearly performing many of his own stunts. As Crossman notes, this greatly influenced the initial discussions on the design of suit:
“We were just very, very aware from the beginning how flexible it all needed to be.”
The flexibility is an interesting aspect to note, as it’s no secret amongst fans of the Caped Crusader that previous iterations of the suit have been far from comfortable for the actors underneath. For example, Michael Keaton’s Batman suit was made in such a way that the actor couldn’t move his neck while in costume, meaning he had to turn his whole body to turn and look in another direction. This problem was fixed in later suits, but practically problems remained, but Pattinson’s suit appears to be the best in this regard.
Dillon went on to note the cowl of the suit, which has a hand stitched design to show that Bruce Wayne made this mask himself, adding to the year two story and the realism of the film more broadly. The cowl differs in many ways from other versions, as Dillon notes:
“In previous iterations of the upper cowl, it’s more like a face of a demon and he’s got a pointy nose and a built-in scowl. Knowing that with this script, it was going to be a lot of him standing around talking and doing detective work, it felt like that might have been a bit too over the top and it felt like it needed something that was a bit calmer.”
Despite Batman’s desire to invoke fear in the criminals of Gotham in this movie, the lengthy talking scenes were ultimately prioritized to make Pattinson not as inherently angry looking as the character often was in previous films.
Crossman and Dillon are no strangers to big franchises, having worked on Star Wars in the past. In particular, the pair were involved with the costume design for Darth Vader in Rogue One, and they noted that they used this experience with the iconic villain to help design Batman:
“When we were doing Darth Vader, again, he’s an all-black character. But when you actually see the helmet in real life, you realize that large chunks of it are painted dark silver.”
Finally, Dillon re-empathized the realism’s influence on the suit, using the bat symbol as an example:
“[The Bat symbol] wasn’t just a leather, bat-shaped cut-out stuck on the chest. It had a proper purpose [a sharp tool for Batman].”
The Batman is in theaters now.
Images courtesy of DC and Warner Bros.