When you think of Hollywood movie characters that can pull off a badass look, Robert Pattinson probably comes to mind. The actor has embodied memorable film characters in the likes of ‘The Twilight Saga’ and the upcoming ‘Venom’ and has never shied away from showing off his impressive physique. When it comes to dressing the part, Robert Pattinson is a man that can’t be topped.
While we can’t exactly say that he stole the scene as Batman in last year’s ‘The Batman’, it’s fair to say that his portrayal as the Dark Knight inspired countless fashion choices. Inspired by the actor’s bold aesthetic, celebrities and fashion lovers alike have donned the Batman suit – but is it time to make way for the sequel? Let’s take a look back at the evolution of the Batman costume and how Robert Pattinson’s unique style has shaped modern interpretations of the iconic outfit.
The Early Years
It all started with an idea. In 1963, a group of Hollywood costume designers got together and decided to give the superhero concept a realistic twist by adding a modern twist to the traditional outfit. They took inspiration from the French fashion designer who founded the French Legion of Honor – Louis Vuitton – and named the new ensemble after him. The designers worked with Hollywood studio executives to make sure that their ideas would be practical and that the superhero look could be worn in real life. The original intention was for the character to be a satire, but it wasn’t long before the superhero element overshadowed the humorous intent and the role was taken more seriously.
The Louis Vuitton Collection of Batman costumes were worn by screen legends such as Omar Nelson and Sidney Poitier. Perhaps the most memorable outfit in the collection is the one that was worn by Ralph Meeker – arguably the greatest detective in film history. The design is still one of the most recognizable in movie history and it’s fitting that Ralph Meeker’s outfit is often referred to as the “classic” Batman costume. It’s probably fair to say that the designer worked on multiple costumes for the film and it’s also worth noting that Louis Vuitton designed the interior of the cagéneto (detective office) where Ralph Meeker worked, which was inspired by the textile designer’s love for oriental rugs. The designer had previously worked with Hollywood studio heads on several big budget films, so it’s not like this partnership was born out of nowhere.
Revisiting The ‘60s
For as long as cinema has been around, movie makers have tried to give the appearance of superhuman strength. For decades, the standard uniform for superheroes has been spandex or some other type of elastic garment. This was most notably used by actors in the roles of Spiderman and Batman in the ‘60s. With the rise of comic book movies, this uniform became a thing of its own and spawned multiple knockoffs, including ones designed by Michael B. Jordan and Don Black. The late ‘90s and early 2000s were especially fruitful years for people looking to give the superhero look a modern twist. If you want to put on a show and need some accessories to go with it, you can’t go wrong with a Batarang, a shield or even a utility belt.
More Than Meets The Eye
While we’re on the subject of the ‘60s, it’s worth mentioning that this was a golden era for superheroes. Not only was this the height of the counterculture movement in the United States, but it was also the height of comic book movies. As a result, it wasn’t only style influencers that got in on the act. The superhero craze reached even the most unlikely of places, such as Congress. In 1965, Congress passed a resolution encouraging the study of psychology and sociology through the medium of comic books, because it believed that it could help explain the appeal of superheroes.
As mentioned, in the ‘60s, it wasn’t only Hollywood stars who decided to don the cape and cowl. With the success of Marvel movies, the superhero look really took off and the “mask” hiding the identity of the wearer started to disappear. With greater acceptance comes greater individuality, which is important because as the decades passed, the look of the classic Batman slowly started to evolve. The silhouette and proportions changed, as did the way the character’s wore his clothes. Over the years, filmmakers have experimented with different materials, adding greater texture and dimension to the costume. One of the most notable and influential designers is Mr. Mark Henry. It was Mr. Henry who first designed a suit made entirely of stretch mesh and spandex for Tom Hardy to wear in the 1999 movie ‘Chasing Amy’. While we’re on the subject of Tom Hardy, it’s worth mentioning that he has been the subject of multiple fashion trends and style influencers. When it comes to dressing the part, Hardy is certainly one to watch.
Since Mr. Henry’s groundbreaking design, almost every male Hollywood celebrity has donned the Batman suit. Some have kept the classic black and gray motifs, while others have gone for a more modern interpretation in a funky color scheme – like blue or red. One of the most influential designs is most likely the one that was worn by George Clooney in the 2004 movie ‘The Match Maker’, which was designed by Mr. Henry again. Another famous design is the one that was worn by Ryan Gosling in the 2013 movie ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’. While we’re on the subject of Ryan Gosling, it’s worth mentioning that the actor has been embraced by both genders and all ages. When it comes to styling himself for a role, few can match the versatility of the actor. He’s often referred to as the male fashion model. If there’s one thing you need to know about Gosling, it’s that he loves bold, statement pieces. Just check out his Instagram account to see how his style has influenced people across the globe.
Even now, designers continue to experiment with different materials and techniques to give the classic Batman the suit that he truly deserves. It should also be noted that the ‘70s and early ‘80s were a golden era for both practical and imaginative costume designs. It wasn’t only Hollywood that got in on the act. The punk rock movement gave birth to a fashion craze that continues to this day. It was a time when designers could experiment with new, innovative techniques and materials to give the traditional superhero suit a fresh look. While we can’t say that future generations of superheroes will emerge looking exactly like their classic predecessors, the design heritage remains intact and inspiration still abounds.