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The Bat Suit and CSI: Batman

I'm not much of a reader of Batman comic books. Most of my appreciation of Batman is with the film versions of the character (excluding the animated versions) because that's where I first discovered him. I'm fairly sure it was the Adam West TV series version that first caught my attention as reruns in the nineteen seventies followed closely by the 1949 cinema serial and the animated 'Super friends'.

However I am a fan of the way batman is drawn in the comic books. I like the grey leotards with either a blue or black cowl. I prefer the black cowl but the blue version still works on the page. (The blue cowl is actually meant to be a black cowl that has a kind of 'blue black' hue in the light and came about as a way to make Batman stand out more from the black outlines and shading used within comic books).

When it comes to Batman on film we've become accustomed to the black rubber suits that Tim Burton established in his movie Batman (1989)(See image left with Michael Keaton as Batman). The logic being that the suit is a kind of protective armor, capable of stopping bullets. It makes sense right? Even when the character was first created guns were a common weapon of criminals. Yet, in the comics Batman, never wore protective armor as his regular 'work' suit. Not ever. Not until the 1989 movie.

In fact, in the comics, he still doesn't wear armor as this cover (image left) from the comic book series, Final Crisis, ( NO#6, Jan 2009) shows.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the rubber suits of the movies. Not even the current upgraded suit that Batman has in Chris Nolan's, The Dark Knight (2008)(see image on the right).

They do look good but they tend to play up the brute force aspect of the character. In a suit of armor Batman is going to be able to withstand a lot of punches without feeling them a whole lot. Bullet to the head on the other hand... well, he should be okay so long it doesn't hit him in the face from the nose down (or take an eye out).

The thing is, Batman isn't just about brute force. Virtually all the Batman comic fan boys will tell you Batman is 'super' intelligent. Which is why they often argue Batman would win in a fight with Superman. Brains over muscle - but that's a whole other topic.

Batman is one of the world's greatest detectives. So good he has access to technology that can lift fingerprints from completely obliterated bullets - apparently (see Nolan's, The Dark Knight). He needs the muscle, stealth and fighting ability to bring his criminals in but he relies on his intelligence and advanced technologies to build a case against them and to track them down.

Whilst an armored suit should definitely be in the 'Bat Closet' I think Batman would operate more like the regular police force who don't usually wear full riot gear for day to day police work. They usually only suit up when they expect the situation to be dangerous.

Adam West did the leotard Bat suit no favors. He didn't look bad in it but he didn't look menacing either. Understandable since the sixties TV show was aimed at children whom the studio probably didn't want to scare with the complexities of a tortured vigilante. It was just for fun and Batman was a role model of the fine, upstanding hero who always triumphed over evil.

Recently I revisited a superb fan made short film, Batman: Dead End (2003) by Sandy Collora. The film is a single scene where Batman finds the Joker, who has recently escaped custody, in an alley.

In attempting to apprehend him the Joker is grabbed by an unseen rooftop foe and then Batman is attacked by an Alien (from the movie of the same name - though the film is actually inspired by the comic book series Batman/Aliens). Batman wins against the alien but is subsequently attacked by a Predator (again from the movie of the same name and again, actually inspired by the comic series Batman Versus Predator).

Whilst I'm not into the whole Alien/Predator concept - despite being done well - what's notable about the film is that Batman, played by Clark Bartram, is wearing the Black and grey leotard suit from the comics. Not only that but he still manages to be menacing and fully owns the physical, brute force aspect of Batman. See for yourself in the full eight minute movie embeded below:



What this short film shows is that Batman can, believably, hold his own in a fight, even without body armor. Not only that but that the traditional suit from the comics can look great. It even looks great in the day time, full lighting. Don't believe me check out the video below which covers the making of Batman: Dead End and gives you some insight into why the grey suit was used.



This article is leading towards an idea that I just want to throw out there about the direction Batman is heading in the film world and something I'd like to see.

Christopher Nolan's Batman films have brought the character back to a more realistic vision. At the same time Sandy Collora's short film shows that the traditional costume of the comics can work in a realistic environment not dissimilar to Nolan's world (if you leave out the aliens and predators).

I guess I'm arguing for Sandy's Bat Costume because of all the Bat Suits I've seen it really is my favorite version. Batman's strength is not hidden away under layers of armor. This is a guy that doesn't need armor and he'll still stand and fight if necessary. I'm more inclined towards the Batman that wins by stealth and smarts than brute force but can hold up in a fight if absolutely necessary.

To my point... crime shows are really popular on TV. Always have been. Wouldn't it be interesting if the producers of one of those shows - say CSI, Law and Order, Cold Case etc. etc. gave Batman that kind of treatment?

Super criminals are all very well but Batman is about cleaning up Gotham city of all its criminal element - not just your Jokers or your out of town tourists like Ra's Al Ghul. How interesting would it be to focus even more on the detective aspect of the character?

CSI:Batman. A simple suit like Batman: Dead End. A modest set for the Bat Cave. Maybe a car that's a little less tank and a little more Lamborghini. Access to Gordon and the Gotham PD. Rent a mansion for Wayne Manor. How hard could it be?

Even just a once off special by the producers of any of these shows would be fun. Maybe even incorporate their own characters who interact with Batman like it's completely normal - not like they're trying to wrap their head around the concept of working with a six foot bat.

I know this article took a long time to get to my point but I really had to talk about the suit and why I like the 'old school' comic version. Otherwise you'd be thinking of Adam West when I made the suggestion instead of Clark Bartram (who, incidentally would be great in the role if he still looks as good in 2009 as he did in 2003. He looks good enough to make a great Bruce Wayne too).

If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

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