The batsuit is more important than any of Bruce Wayne's various gadgets and weapons. It needs to strike fear in the hearts of law-breakers while also coloring the specific Bat-movie it appears in with a distinct tone and vibe. We've all gone down the batsuit road many times, and many actors and directors have tackled the Dark Knight's various crucibles crushing the criminals of Gotham. The Caped Crusader's costuming is crucial, allowing him to shift through the shadows and strike, like a bat, from out of nowhere.
So let's dig into decades of batsuits, from '60s camp to '80s goth to armor freakin' thick enough to take on Superman (with the assist from kryptonite). We voted on our faves, considering both form and function, and this is the ranking we came up with! And a few notes: This list only includes live-action movie suits, and we're not including the Pattinson suit here since we haven't seen the whole thing yet!
And when you're done here, be sure to vote for your favorite batsuit in our poll at the bottom of this page, check out everything we know about The Batman so far, or read up on how Robert Pattinson's batsuit draws from the Arkham games and the comics.
Batman: Ranking the Movie Batsuits
13. Batman & Robin Ice Armor
Yeesh. So — side note — the Joel Schumacher films each had two batsuits for strictly toy sale purposes.
Batman & Robin's alternate attire were the dreadful ice outfits that Bruce, Dick, and Barbara used in their efforts to thwart Mr. Freeze. Impervious to his cold attacks, the suits were also resistant to good taste and invulnerable against pleasing aesthetics.
12. Batman Forever Sonar Suit
After the bulk of Bruce's batsuits were destroyed by Riddler in Batman Forever, he used his last remaining regalia to battle his foes in the film's final fight – the Sonar Suit. It was a somewhat plain-looking silvery-black thing that totally felt like the last thing Bruce would have in his closet. It was also the first of Schumacher's second batsuits (for toy line purposes, as previously noted).
11. Batman & Robin Main Suit
Blending the two Batman Forever batsuits ("Panther" and "Sonar"), and adding pop-out ice skates (because reasons – er – FREEZEons), George Clooney's costume combined nipples with a metallic sheen for a result that we all mostly resent because he was a bad Batman in a bad Batman movie.
10. Batman v Superman Knightmare Suit
In Batman v Superman's dystopian dreamscape, featuring a dustbowl Earth ruled by an evil Superman, Batman kept his regular DCEU costume and just added a big trench coat, goggles, and a separate ski mask. Oh, and guns. Whatever. It was all kind of a "hat on a hat" at that point, but who's to say what's right and wrong about Bruce's dream-slash-vision? Any dystopia worth its weight in wasteland warlords is all about unnecessary accessories.
9. Batman v Superman Armored Suit
When the clock struck "Clobberin' Time" for Bruce and his showdown with Superman, he decked himself out like a Decepticon, clamping himself inside a massively-strong batsuit exoskeleton. Inspired by the suit used in the Bats vs. Supes fight in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, this chunky costume allowed Bruce to be just strong enough to fight Superman when Superman was incredibly-weakened by kryptonite.
8. Justice League Tactical Suit
Featuring upgraded armor, weaponry, and flight goggles, Bruce's Justice League gear was the pinnacle of his Bat-tech, utilized in the battle against cosmic forces invading Earth. Less bulky and tank-like than the fireplug-looking costume he wore while slugging it out with Superman, Bruce's tactical uniform was awesomely appealing apparel to wear against Steppenwolf and his minions.
7. Batman Forever Main Suit
After two Tim Burton/Michael Keaton outings, Val Kilmer found himself adorned in attire that was – er – anatomically articulated. Inspired by the statues of ancient Greece, according to director Joel Schumacher, this bad boy had nipples, folks.
Aside from the much-maligned nips, however, the Forever suit (nicknamed the "Panther Suit" on set) made some nice, graceful alterations to the Burton costume, including a less-yellow chest symbol and a newly-designed utility belt.
6. Batman v Superman/Justice League Main Suit
Influenced heavily by both the comic's long-running grey suit and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Ben Affleck's batsuit in the DCEU is no-nonsense war wardrobe. It's not meant to spotlight any flashy symbols or showy gadgets, it's meant for hiding in the darkness until it's time to burst into a room and cripple a dozen crooks. And maybe even brand them, if there's time. Its stark simplicity has made it a fan favorite. This suit, with some subtle tweaks, also appeared in Justice League.
5. Adam West Suit
Before Tim Burton created the go-to movie iconography for all things Batman, Adam West ruled the roost with his '60s camp TV portrayal of the Caped Crusader, complete with a satin blue and purple suit that featured smaller ears and a shorter cape (so West wouldn't trip on set). For an entire generation, this was the one and only batsuit and West's famous portrayal cemented this particular Batman in the annals of pop-culture history.
4. Batman Returns Suit
In Batman Returns, Bruce has been out Batmanning so much (or sometimes just sitting quietly at home waiting for the Bat-Signal to hit) that he's now got a Batcave vault full of suits. The Returns suit isn't hugely different from the debut costume in Batman '89, but it featured a less sculpted look than its predecessor. It's an angular armor-plated version with a new (to us, anyhow) gliding cape function.
3. Batman Begins Suit
Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins took a very grounded and gritty approach to Batman's gear, reverse-engineering how one might actually craft one of these cool costumes in real life. Using Wayne Enterprises' R&D department, Bruce tweaks an already-existing paramilitary "Nomex survival suit" and then fuses together the bat-aspects of it from other places. Customized with advanced tech, like a Kevlar cowl and memory cloth cape, this was the first batsuit we got to see built up from scratch.
2. Batman '89 Suit
When Tim Burton's Batman landed in 1989, fans were introduced to the first ever bulked-up, imposing depiction of the batsuit on the big screen. All black, with a yellow chest emblem, Michael Keaton's suit was a foreboding rubberized take on Neal Adams' illustrations. And what it lacked in head mobility (Keaton couldn't turn his neck at all), it made up for in shadowy, sinister presence. And the highlighting of the bat symbol nicely mixed with the film's marketing, which was often just the symbol itself on a poster. It wasn't the most functional of the lot, but it's the most iconic. And it's the suit that influenced every single movie suit that followed, to this day.
1. The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises Suit
After a year on the job, and with an anarchist clown to deal with, Bruce Wayne decided his Nomex batsuit needed a few alterations and upgrades. Sacrificing protection for mobility and agility, Lucius Fox whipped up a new costume using separated plating, and The Dark Knight suit was born – the perfect sleek and slimming suit to go toe-to-toe with Joker. Unfortunately, this lighter suit didn't fare well against the brute force of Bane when Bruce donned it years later.
So where will the costume from The Batman land in the pantheon of batsuits? We'll know soon enough, as The Batman hits on March 4.
Note: This story was originally published in February 2020. It was updated with the latest information about The Batman on February 25, 2022.