Research Paper: Batman Outfit Exploring the Batman Character

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Batman Outfit

Exploring the Batman Character and Outfit

After experiencing two world wars and the destruction both of them wrought, the American public was weary of seeing lawlessness and violence on a scale that defied imagination. The public was eager to see a futuristic world, based on their utopian fantasy, where superhuman forces would finally confront the evil and protect ordinary citizens. Movies featuring super-heroic characters brought psychological comfort to many Americans as they were eager to see a hero confronting their enemies. Superheroes characterized what the public wanted to see in real life. The development of the character of Batman is interesting in this context, as Batman is not a superhuman. He is a billionaire, an industrialist, a playboy, and a philanthropist. But Batman nonetheless behaves like a superman, by utilizing technology, intelligence, and skill. His scallop-hem cape, his weapon Batarang, and his Batmobile give him the power to confront the unmitigated evil which tries to disrupt normal life in the Gotham city. In confronting the evil, Batman's outfit and his character play an important role -- as we can see in the latest two Batman series -- Batman Begins (2002) and the Dark Knight (2008) -- produced by Christopher Nolan.

The character of Batman was developed by Bob Kane who died in 1998 at the age of 83. The author of such comics' characters as Courageous Cat, Minute Mouse, and Cool McCool, Kane was inspired by studying Leonardo da Vinci's drawings in his decision to create a character of Batman. Although the character of Batman is superman-like one, the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, is an ordinary person. Having personally witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, Batman goes on a bid to rid the Gotham city of crime and fear. He uses his vast amount of wealth to study criminology, train and perfect his body and mind, and assemble a set of vehicles and gadgets that help him in his crusade against criminals. When Wayne finds out that he is afraid of a bat, upon seeing it outside his window, he decides to embrace an outfit of a "bat" man to strike fear into the criminal heart of his "cowardly and superstitious" adversaries.

The color scheme of the Batman character has changed several times, and various artists have used different shades according to their own tastes and the context of the time when they made Batman films and animation cartoons. For example, when the first Batman comic books were introduced to the public, Batman's color scheme was shaded with blue, giving the illusion of three-dimensionality. Some artists depicted the Batman costume in the combination of black and gray or blue and gray colors. In the 1990s, artists depicted Batman in all-black costume incorporating an advanced armory, which was in line with the public tastes at the time. In the latest Christopher Nolan films, Batman's costume is all-black with light shades, but Nolan and his costume designers largely focused on turning the Batman costume into a light-weight, agile outfit, combining "armor, communications and combat technologies into one state-of-the-art crime-fighting system."

The foundation of Batman's Batsuit is a tight-fitting bodysuit, which makes him similar to many other superheroes. Contrasting briefs worn over a united suit characterized Batman in the early depictions, making Batman's garb similar to that of early 20th-century circuit performers. But in modern depictions, the briefs are tightly integrated into Batman's main costume. Modern depictions also change the construction of the bodysuit from being simple fabric into advanced materials, making the bodysuit resistant to tearing and in some cases bullet-proof. The suit is also resistant to mild fire and can insulate electricity. While some of Batman's armors and gadgets are used separately, he has incorporated some of them into his Batsuit, and thus making his basic suit more protective and powerful. In the latest franchise, the Dark Knight, at the insistence of Christopher Nolan, the costume designers made the Batsuit more agile and lightweight, at the expense, however, of its protective design. Thus, in the Dark Knight, Batman's bodysuit is not totally bullet-proof, makes Batman more vulnerable to knife attacks, but at the same time makes him quicker and more agile.

Batman's cape likewise has gone through various transformations as the character of Batman developed in the last several decades. The design and the color depended on how various artists depicted it at different times. Originally, as conceived by Bob Kane, the cape had a wing-like structure, being inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. While some artists later drew the cape with protrusions on the shoulders, in an attempt to represent the "thumb" part of a bat's wing, others depicted it as bullet-proof and/or fire resistant. In some other depictions, the cape is made of simple fabric and thus is constantly replaced by Batman as it sustains damage and can be torn easily. In Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, the cape is used as hang glider, which allows Batman to glide over the rooftops in the streets of Gotham. Nolan personally participated in designing the cape, in this film topped by a cowl, and said that he wanted to have a "flowing cloak . . . that blows and flows as in so many great graphic novels."

The cowl, designed to be thin enough to allow motion, is also thick enough to avoid wrinkling when Christian Bale, the actor playing the character of Batman, turns his head in the Batsuit.

If there is an element of the Batsuit which has been repeatedly updated, then it is the armor -- which reflects the gradual advancement in technology. The Batsuit originally did not have any armor since Batman was not designed to be a superman who could shrug bullet hits off. The changing tastes of the American public as well as those of artists -- often influenced by advances in technology -- obviously began to be reflected in the structure of Batsuit's armor in later depictions. Interestingly, Batman almost always evades bullets shot at him although in modern depictions his armor and sometimes his cape are bullet-proof. In addition to its protective structure, the batsuit has a magnetic signature harness, which allows Batman to attract his body to huge metal objects such as a plane or a train wagon.

Batman's cowl serves several purposes. The cowl does not simply help conceal Bruce Wayne under a mask, but it uses from time to time its various defense mechanisms; for example, by using electric shock to thwart unauthorized attempts to remove it. It is interesting how Christopher Nolan incorporated new features to the cowl, trying to reflect the latest advances in technology. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne realizes that his actions may be easily monitored and stir suspicion. Therefore, he orders materials in very large quantities (10,000 each) through a shady network of undetectable shell companies. Realizing that today's criminals can see things through solid objects, Batman lines the cowl with lead to make it even more difficult to detect his identity. In the Dark Knight, the cowl serves as a night- and ultraviolet vision device, and uses sonar concept, which could be utilized as echolocation to triangulate objects via cell phones.

The cowl also serves as a communications device, its ears carrying an antenna on the left side, allowing Batman to keep in touch with his allies.

Other parts of Batman's suit such as boots and belts also serve various purposes, adding to Batman's collection of armory and weaponry, but his most powerful transportation armor is the Batmobile. In the latest two franchises, the Batmobile is an impressively powerful vehicle, able to withstand significant levels of fire power, can have a speed of over 100 miles per hour, and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in five seconds. Despite its size and power, the Batmobile can make sharp turns at city corners, its design includes a 5.7 liter Chevy V8 engine, front tires by Hoosier, rear 4x4 mud tires by Interco (called Super Swampers) as well as the suspension system of Baja racing tricks. The front wheels were powerful enough to sustain the shock of a 30-foot fall. It took several million dollars and more than nine months to build and design the Batmobile.

Batman's outfit and his armory fit in well with the character of Bruce Wayne. The Dark color of his outfit has several underlying themes. "Dark' designates both a highly marketable aesthetic style and an ethical, or rather anti-ethical, stance," Mark Fisher writes, "a kind of designer nihilism whose chief theoretical proposition is the denial of the possibility of the Good."

However, it is within this darkness where Batman fights against crime, tries to impose justice, and overcomes fear. One the one hand, darkness is everywhere, inside us, around us, in human nature; darkness is what instills fear among us and our adversaries. And yet Batman's outfit is in all dark, his armory, his batmobile, the gadgets he uses, his cowl and cape all represent darkness, while at the same time… [END OF PREVIEW]

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