Poe’s Point > Top Five Batman outfits

As I’ve documented before, I have conflicting feelings about Batman and his various outfits. I grew up on the blue-and-gray costume with the yellow oval, but I’ve come to realize that outfit isn’t particularly menacing.

In an attempt to make sense of it all, I give you Poe’s Top Five Batman costumes (as represented in action figure form).

5.) Batman Beyond

I had a hard time coming up with this one. The other four were easy, but Batman hasn’t had that many different looks over the years. I wasn’t going with the Azbats costume because it’s an abomination.

So in the end I decided to cheat a little and go with the Batman Beyond outfit. I suppose you could argue it’s technically an all-black costume like the next item on the list, but due to the red bat symbol, the lack of a cape, and the iconic red wings, and the fact that I need one more costume to complete my list of five, I’m counting it as a separate suit.

I haven’t actually watched Batman Beyond yet (it’s in my Netflix queue), so I can’t comment too much on the features of the suit. I was disappointed the DCUC figure didn’t come with the wings, but there is a certain practicality to a Batman suit without the cape to catch on things. I like the lack of an open mouth mask as well.

If the current “Batman: R.I.P.” storyline does end with Bruce Wayne stepping down as Batman and either Dick Grayson or Tim Drake taking his place, DC could do worse than to give his replacement this outfit.

4.) All-black (any belt or symbol)

There are many versions of the all-black Batman suit, from the late-1990s outfit to the various film incarnations to Mattel’s “Knight Shadow Batman” (seen here). All of them are pretty cool, and let’s face it: this is probably the most practical outfit in a real-world situation–from both a tactical and psychological standpoint. Being all-black, it makes it easy to hide in shadows, especially at night. It makes it harder to shoot you in any particular place because the black all runs together. And I imagine most people would be more scared of a dark black shape swooping down toward them than what is clearly a guy in a gray bodysuit.

However, as practical as this look may be, I have a hard time thinking of it as Batman. It works for the movies, but in the comics it makes for a pretty washed-out, uninspired look, and it’s not exactly iconic. The all-black outfit works best in comics when matched with the yellow oval, which helps identify the character.

3.) Blue and gray, yellow oval, capsule belt

This is the look Batman wore from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. It’s the one most Baby Boomers and children of the eighties remember, the one featured in the Superfriends cartoon and the Super Powers toy line. Technically, the 1989 film’s outfit, while dark blue/black, was based on this look.

In the very first Batman comics, his bodysuit was gray and his cowl, cape, gloves, boots, and briefs were black. At the time, however, it was conventional to use blue to highlight black, so the figure didn’t get washed out by the more primitive coloring process of the time (why they couldn’t use gray, I don’t know). Over time, the blue highlights spread out, probably due to a combination of being more attractive to young readers and to maybe to just save on ink. Eventually, more of the outfit was blue than black.

I’m still very fond of this look. This was Batman to young Poe. When Kenner’s Batman Returns figures came out, the only one I wanted was the blue-and-gray Batman because he was more like the comics.

The yellow belt, adorned with little capsules, was the standard look for Batman’s belt from his first appearance in 1939 until the “No Man’s Land” storyline of 1999, when he switched to a more practical (if less futuristic) workman’s-belt style (with a few appearances in stories such as Batman: Year One). It’s interesting to note that the belts used in the Christopher Nolan films, which attempt to depict Batman as realistically as possible, actually look more like the capsule belt than the pouch belt. While the pouch belt makes sense in that it allows Batman to carry more and larger gadgets, it doesn’t look as sleek or sexy as the capsule belt.

Of course, the more discriminating writers, artists, and fans of today realize this is a silly outfit for someone who purports to be a creature of the night and wants to scare criminals. And thus we come to…

2.) Black and gray, plain bat symbol, pouch belt

I think this represents the best compromise for comics–black highlights over a gray bodysuit, with the plain bat symbol and the pouch belt. This is more or less what Bats looked like in his earliest appearances.

While this look has appeared often in the comics, it has curiously never been the “default” look for Batman. He’s often drawn with the black in team books (to offset any similarity to Superman) or in miniseries like Year One, but this has never been the “official” look (regardless of the belt type).

This is a very gritty, down-to-earth Batman–Batman as he might have looked if Batman Begins had been made in the 1930s. The figure depicted here–from Mattel’s DC Super Heroes wave eight–has a strong Frank Miller vibe to it, with the coloring and belt of Batman: Year One and the bulk of The Dark Knight Returns. It’s my current favorite Batman action figure.

1.) Dark blue and gray, plain bat symbol, pouch belt

This is my preferred look for Batman. It’s a good combination of the blue tones I’m so familiar with, but the dark colors and plain bat symbol I prefer. The idea with the dark blue is you can think of it as highlighted black, which is how Batman is often depicted in comics.

The closest Mattel has come to this figure is Attack Armor Batman, but unfortunately, that figure had a cloth cape and doesn’t quite hold up alongside the current DCUC figures. (The figure to the right is the DC Direct “Batman and Son” Batman.) What I would love is a repaint of the DCUC wave one Batman with a light gray bodysuit, dark blue on the cape, cowl, gloves and boots, a plain bat symbol and a pouch belt–something like the pic below. Come on, Mattel–make my dreams come true.

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  • I would have put the Batman Forever v1 suit on there in place of the gray suit and yes, Azbats in place of BmB. While a horrible plotline, at least its a cool/interesting design beyond just simple belt variations – it had its time, but needs a really good toy. As for BmF v1 – all black but yellow oval – probably my favorite movie costume – theres some just iconic and semi-threatening that the only thing you can make out is mouth eyes and logo – afterall, what is batman if not a symbol.

  • I prefer the blue and gray, yellow oval, capsule belt look; although I like that look from a lot of varied artists: the same outfit is going to look different when drawn by Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, and Kelley Jones.

  • I really do believe your number one was the best choice it has the Jim Lee Vibe to it. I always thought that we needed a better batman costume in the DCUC line just couldn't quite make out what it was.Never did like the black with yellow oval just seemed too plain. What do u think about the ears?the short nearly invisible? the super-long and pointy? or half way of both.

  • I probably like the shorter, farther-back ears the most, but I'm OK with anything other than the long, pointy Tim Sale-style ears. Those don't work for me.

  • I'd go with the light gray and dark blue. Tactically speaking, dark blue is harder to see at night/moonlight. I however, prefer a cape that all but closes up in front. It gives batman a less human look and hides his movement/strikes during combat.

  • BB:

    I've read that "blue is tactically better than black" thing a few times, but I've never been able to find any studies to back it up…

  • I, too, miss the old blue-and-gray suit with the yellow oval and capsule belt. Most of all, I MISS the CAPSULE BELT. It just looks — I dunno — more streamlined and efficient than the stupid pouch belts. I always thought the pouch belts would be like a woman's purse, with Batman rummaging around and muttering, "I KNOW I put those #*&#% gas pellets in here SOMEWHERE …!"

  • My favorite suit is the black and gray suit. Poe's #2 choice from the series 8 of Dc superheroes.

    I can't believe i passed it up because i thought the DCUC wave 1 blue campy figure would be better.

    I just picked one up for $50. As crazy as it sounds…it's worth it. I was SOOOOOO tired of that campy Batman. He was the most campy look when I displayed him near Wonder woman, Aquaman, robin, cyborg, Green Lantern and Metamorpho.

    Now that figure is my centerpiece! Even if Mattel were to make DCUC Wave 1 version in black and gray…i don't know if I'd display him…he just looks less serious than the series 7 dc superheroes black and gray figure.

    Kudos on the gray paint they used for that figure….it makes for a dull gray color that takes away cheap shine from a figure. THanks Mattel!

  • I don't know about the capsule belt. Why even have a belt if you can't put anything in the containers. It looks like it can only hold thumb tacs or safety pins.

    The pouch looks more military and practical. If you need a belt that carried weapons that's the realistic choice in my opinion.

    I think the capsule belt is more for a sleek style…doesn't fit batman's personality. He's more for practicallity than style.

  • Hi Poe. Same here. I've been an avid airsoft player for a couple of years now. I started with a black swat outfit and switched to blue since it proved more effective under moonlight. Per experience, black only works with minimal to zero ambient light but otherwise stands out when the ambient increases.