By Caleb Goellner
Batman is a hero who dresses for success. With a suit tailored for every occasion, Gotham’s premier vigilante sported many looks up until his recent demise. Though they often ranged wildly in purpose, each of his Batsuits enabled the Batman to do what he did best — throw thugs through windows. The problem is, not every reality is home to a Batman as stylish as the original (and by “original,” I mean the one DC Comics editorial likes at any given moment). Across the bleed of different universes, other Bat-dudes have donned some less-than-righteous duds. To further complicate matters, with Bruce Wayne eating dirt, there’s a whole bunch of new loonies swinging around town in copycat mode. As a new generation of crime fighters competes to continue Bats’ legacy, consider the eight costumes the new Batman shouldn’t be wearing.
8) Any of ‘Em from Batman: Battle for the Cowl
There are two standouts from the upcoming “Battle for the Cowl,” storyline best kept outside the Batcave. One appears to be some kind of Two-Face version of Batman, and the other a Liefeldian nightmare complete with an abundance of pouches and guns. Both costumes seem to communicate the personalities of their prospective wearers, but couldn’t that be a bad thing? Isn’t that part of why Batman dressed so outrageously — to protect his identity? Maybe these guys aren’t afraid of being found out, but it’s something to consider if they’re truly trying to take Bats’ place.
7) Jean-Paul Valley’s Batsuit from Batman: Knightfall
No Batsuit so perfectly fulfills its own destiny of irrelevance than Jean-Paul Valley’s mecha get-up worn while Bruce Wayne recovered from a massive spinal injury. Batman always has a plan, so when he gets taken out of commission, he chooses the world’s worst replacement and equips him with the world’s worst costume just to prove how relevant he’s always been. He even goes so far as to trick his replacement into fighting him hand-to-hand sans armor, which ends in a humiliating defeat. See kids, you don’t need an edgy new Batman with rapid-fire Batarangs, crazy claw things and a spooky metal cape –all you need is a really mean guy in Kevlar! Hopefully whoever takes up being Batman next remembers the lessons taught by the wholly incompetent Valley and his clich?d ’90s garb.
6) Stan Lee’s Batman from Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe
There’s not much to say about Stan Lee’s Batman other than the obvious – he looks like a bat. It’s kind of ironic, though, considering how little Lee’s animal-based heroes over at Marvel resemble their namesakes. Spider-Man’s suit, for instance, captures the spirit of spider themes while embracing its luchadore function. For some reason, even though this Batman’s origins are also rooted in professional wrestling, he seems to be going for a furry look. Maybe it’s to gain popularity at raves and maybe it’s just a matter of personal taste, but this outfit can stay in the Stan-verse for now.
5) Batmage from Earth 33
Batmage hails from an alternate Earth ruled by magic. Naturally, since he’s a Bats variant, he specializes in the dark arts. Apparently, practicing bad magic is also a precursor to making bad apparel decisions. There’s really no other reasonable explanation for ripping off Dr. Strange’s retro superhero look (when he had that cool mask). To make matters worse, Batmage opted to incorporate realistic bat ears into his cowl. This misguided combo results in a Batsuit fit only for a low-level World of Warcraft mage, which is okay because one day he’ll probably develop a really high burst damage rating and stuff.
4) The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh
The Batman from the planet Zur-En-Arrh experienced something of a comeback recently, starring prominently in the buildup to “Batman R.I.P.” His status as an extraterrestrial battler of robots may have been dismissed in the name of modern continuity, but his Skittles-inspired wardrobe lives on as one of the most insane Batsuits ever created. Color-blind fans may not mind the liberties this costume takes with Bats’ typically dark design, but the funky shoulder pads were totally ’80s before the ’80s knew they’d be totally ’80s. Batman is already a confident dude with good posture; he just doesn’t need the extra help.
3) Batmouse from Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew
Though stylistically similar to Batman’s ’70s costume, the Batmouse’s duds are unique in that they come equipped with more tail space than perhaps any other Batsuit. While there are no concrete examples of this outfit feature being used to a strategic advantage in combating evildoers, it’s safe to assume Batmouse’s dangling appendage was rendered useless after his back was broken by an animal version of Bane. His sidekick Boyd, the Robin Wonder must have been devastated.
2) Nightman from Earth Oneish
Everyone deserves friends like Batman’s. As he and Superman celebrate their 1,000 adventures together, the caped crusader becomes bummed when he finds out Supes has been palling around with a new amigo called Nightman. It turns out Superman simply hypnotized his old chum Bats into becoming Nightman after sunset, giving him a crazy case of personal mistaken identity to solve. Yes, Superman is a terrible friend.
1) Everybody from Batman & Robin
Where to even begin? Rubber Nipples? Crazy colors? Ill-conceived gadgetry? Being forced to view it all from gratuitous ass and crotch shots? When things get this bad, it’s almost grounds for pity. These outfits are troubling not just for their utter bastardization of essential Batsuit lore (criminals are supposed to be intimidated, right?), but also because they give credence to truly awful Batman action figures. On the plus side, few franchises have such an abysmal cautionary costume tale to draw from. If ever there were a lesson in how not to design a Batsuit, Schumacher’s fantasy cosplay wardrobe is it.