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The Evolution of the Batsuit from Adam West to Ben Affleck

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May 13, 2014 | 3:08pm EDT

Batman vs. Superman, BatmanZackSnyder/Twitter

Zack Snyder, director of enough obtuse mediocrity to justify suspicion of blackmail behind his landing the gig directing a movie about the two most beloved comic book characters in American history, has given the world its first glimpse of his take on the Dark Knight. Two shots from the set of Batman vs. Superman hit the web today via Snyder's Twitter account, showing off the latest version of the superhero's famed uniform and trusty ride.

Batman vs. Superman, BatmobileZackSnyder/Twitter

Though we can only guess how star Ben Affleck, depicted here with a glower for the ages, will treat the long familiar Bruce Wayne, we are offered a healthy glance at the Batsuit we'll be spending time with in this film. Just a costume, you might claim, but perhaps just as lively and vivacious as the man it cloaks (in Kilmer's case, even more so). In fact, if you look back through the history of the Batsuit — with our scientific breakdown — you'll find it has evolved quite a bit...

Batman: The Movie (1966)
Starring Adam West, directed by Leslie H. Martinson
SUITIS ORIGINALIS

Batman 1966, Adam West20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection

Back when people wore things made of fabric and cloth, the Batsuit was a simple entity. 

Batman (1989)
Starring Michael Keaton, directed by Tim Burton
SUITIS SHIFTICUS

Batman 1989, Michael KeatonWarner Bros. Pictures

The 1970s must have seen a nuclear power plant lay waste to the waters of Gotham, because the genetic code of the Batsuit shifted dramatically between its first and second big screen incarnations. Here we see an all-black (save for the yellow pelvic logo) suit comprised ostensibly of galvanized rubber, armed with defensive wristular fins, and topped with a substantually more constricting headpiece. Because the '80s weren't about silly things like comfort or functionability.

Batman Returns (1992)
Starring Michael Keaton, directed by Tim Burton
SUITIS CONSISTICUS

Batman Returns 1992, Michael KeatonWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Keaton and Burton's second go saw few changes to the Batsuit... though that mask does seem a little angrier this time...

Batman Forever (1995)
Starring Val Kilmer, directed by Joel Schumacher
SUITIS NIPLICUS

Batman and Robin 1997, George ClooneyWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Doing away with any semblance of subtlety, the '95 tin-plated model was mostly about intimidation: Abs. Pecs. Nipples. 

Batman and Robin (1997)
Starring George Clooney, directed by Joel Schumacher
SUITIS REGRETIBLUS

Batman and Robin 1997, George ClooneyWarner Bros. Pictures

Um. Hm.

Batman Begins (2005)
Starring Christian Bale, directed by Christopher Nolan
SUITIS SERIUS

Batman Begins 2005, Christian BaleWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Now things are getting serious. With a mask that allows not even for the occasional smile, the suit that reared its upsetting head in the Nolan era did away with any hint of color (be it yellow, silver, or gray), kept its contours angular, and found a fair balance between statuesque and athletic.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring Christian Bale, directed by Christopher Nolan
SUITIS ANGRICUS

The Dark Knight 2008, Christian BaleWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Taking a page from the Kilmer book, The Dark Knight slapped Bale's sophomore uniform with a bit more pizzazz in the torso area — not showing off human muscles, per se, but an exoskeletal design reminiscent of weaponry. Dark times, those aughts.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Starring Christian Bale, directed by Christopher Nolan
SUITIS CROSFITUS

The Dark Knight Rises 2012, Christian BaleWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Sleeker, slighter, and stocked with arm straps and shoulder pads. The most extreme species of Batsuit we've yet to see.

Batman vs. Superman (2016)
Starring Ben Affleck, directed by Zack Snyder
SUITIS AFLECUS

Batman vs. Superman, BatmanZackSnyder/Twitter

The diminutive ears of the original, the light feel of the Keatons, the abdominal audacity of the Kilmer era, and the colorless palate of the Bale/Nolans... plus, inscrutably, so many veins. Affleck's Batsuit has taken a few traits from each of its ancestors (except the Clooney one) to become a species all its own.

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