Everyone is talking about The Batman, and we don’t just mean the superhero’s famous bat-signal or the Caped Crusader’s acrobatic fight scenes. We’re referring to the fact that Batman has finally arrived on the big screen, and he’s caused quite a commotion.
The Batman has been a part of popular culture for almost 90 years now, with filmmaker George Clooney‘s 1966 movie adapting the DC Comics character as the ultimate ‘60s action hero. The dark knight soon became one of the most recognizable symbols of the 1960s counterculture, inspiring fans and youngsters alike to emulate his dashing style and crime-fighting ways.
Though some details of Clooney’s Batman have been adapted for the big screen (most notably, the Caped Crusader’s iconic domed helmet), the character has maintained many of his film noir roots. With an ‘80s renaissance courtesy of director Tim Burton and a new generation of vigilantes craving his fashionista style, it’s fair to say that The Batman is still very much in demand.
The Many Shades Of Batman
As well as inspiring fashion trends and inspiring comic book characters, the Caped Crusader has also influenced a number of musicians and DJs, with several tunes paying tribute to the Batman or featuring lyrics that could be interpreted as such. Here’s a small selection of the songs that refer to Batman or could be interpreted as such:
- The The (featuring Mr. Bungle from The Muppets): “I’ll keep you in my palm / You’re safe in my hands / The Batman”
- Bob Seger (from the album Versus): “If you want somebody to pay for what you did / Then you’re gonna have to pay for it yourself / Dark side, hidden side the things you do / I guess that’s just the way you are”
- Bruce Springsteen (from the album Tunnel Of Love): “Riding into the sunset / On a locomotive / While your girls are waiting / For the knight in shining armor”
- Roger Waters (from the album The Art Of Noise): “A knight in black and white”
- GUNS N’ ROSES (from the album Ballad Of The Green Hornet): “He’s a vigilante, just another, ordinary day / That’s what makes him special…”
- Joe Walsh (from the album I Do! I Do!): “You can call me a sentimental old coot / But I still believe in fairy tales / And if you ask me, old-fashioned values / They’re what’s worth fighting for”
- Jackson Browne (from the album Running On Empty): “And I want what all of you want / I want some good clean fun / A little drama, something to make me think / And maybe a smile when I’m done”
Notably, Jackson Browne’s ‘70s hit “Running On Empty” was written and performed in the key of B flat major, the same key as one of the Batman titles, Detective Comics No. 27. It was previously recorded by the Pixies, with guitarist and songwriter Joe Carducci performing a guitar solo on the track. Joe Walsh’s “I Do! I Do!” also references Batman, with the title track being in the same key as the Caped Crusader’s emblematic symbol, the Rorschach inkblot test.
The Fashion And Style Revolution That Was The Batman
The Batman represented a major stylistic departure from previous incarnations of the character. While some parts of his look, such as his domed helmet and trenchcoat, were inspired by the silver screen classics of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the character’s fashion focus was more on the ‘70s.
A pivotal point in the character’s development came in 1974 with the release of Batman No. 1, an issue that saw the character’s popularity surge, with orders for the comic book reaching a whopping 1.47 million copies. The following year marked the beginning of a new “Dark Ages” of comics, with DC Comics limiting the scope of its characters, particularly superheroes, in an effort to appeal to adult readers.
The self-censorship was no accident. As the ‘70s progressed, so too did the culture at large, with fashion and style influences stemming from other media gaining popularity. The ‘70s were a revolutionary decade not just in style, but in politics, technology, and pop culture, and “The Batman” was a major part of that.
As a result of the “Scary Shift” that began in the ‘70s, some elements of traditional masculinity such as muscularity and aggression were deemphasized, with more emphasis being placed on personal style and fashion. This was particularly the case with Batman, who went through a major transformation, evolving from a gruff and masculine figure to a more fashionable and sartorial one. The “Scary Shift” did not just apply to men: women as well as men evolved their fashion and style during this time, with everyone from housewives to professionals engaging in a trend that was, in part, spurred on by pop culture.
From ‘70s Counterculture Icon To 21st Century Pop Culture Sensation
Arguably the most recognizable and iconic image from “The Batman” is its opening sequence, in which the Caped Crusader swings into action and kicks off the big-screen adaptation with a bang.
The cinematic opening of the 1966 movie was an instrumental piece, with conductor Andre Previn conducting an orchestra in the middle of a busy street. Director George Clooney, inspired by the iconic image, recreated the scene with a live indie jazz band in 2005’s The Good German, with jazz trumpeter Sean Barrett performing the iconic tune at a busy intersection.
The film’s opening scene served as a stylistic blueprint for future Batman outings. Director Joel Schumacher, in particular, was heavily influenced by it, with the cinematic equivalent of a bang being a scene from the director’s own 1995 movie, Batman Forever. In that movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze villainously wields a gun shaped like a tongue, and when he fires it, the ‘90s iconics beats and pop music soundtrack come rushing in.
As well as being influential on stylistic choices, “The Batman” was a milestone in terms of representing a significant shift in popular culture. For the first time in decades, a comic book character had caused a fashion and style revolution, with the film inspiring many kids to become interested in fashion and style, particularly Batman-related fashion. Additionally, some ‘70s trends, such as color matching and acid-wash jeans, still continue.
An ‘80s Renaissance For The Dark Knight
The ‘80s were largely defined by a nostalgia for the ‘70s, with many millennials eager to recreate their childhood experiences and fashion trends from that decade. This was particularly the case for fashion and lifestyle influencers, with many turning to past glories for inspiration.
Arguably the most prominent influencer in the ‘80s was Madame Noire, the female counterpart to Marvel Comics’ Black Panther character. The French-Brazilian vlogger began documenting her extraordinary style in 2013 and quickly became one of the most influential personalities in the ‘grammer,’ with her eponymous YouTube channel boasting close to 500 million views.
Madame Noire is credited with kicking off a fashion and style renaissance for the Caped Crusader, whose biggest fans were called ‘80s revivalists, and they wore their love for the Dark Knight on their sleeve, with several tunes and lyrics directly referencing the character, such as: