The envy of the billionaire spelunking crowd, Batman’s suit and cloak are a masterpiece in Kevlar tri-weave and memory fibre brilliance. They enable its owner to soar from buildings, stop bullets and resist all but the most peckish canines. Costume designer Lindy Hemming talks Empire through its evolution.
"Both Chris Nolan and I wanted to make a different kind of Batsuit for Batman Begins," remembers costume designer Lindy Hemming of early Bat-erations of the suit. Taking inspiration – like Lucius Fox – from military hardware, the pair worked to construct the garb, although, admits the costumer, "my ideas were a bit over-ambitious". Perhaps fittingly, its evolution would end up mirroring Bruce Wayne's innovations on-screen. "I was wanting to do more-or-less what we did when we got to The Dark Knight, which was to transform the heavy rubber suit and make it much more modern."
THE DARK KNIGHT
After Batman's stiff-neck syndrome in Batman Begins, the challenge was designing a loose and limber neck piece. "We made the neck much more moveable and lighter", explains Hemming, "and not so thick. I designed a more animalistic feeling for the face, and the surface of the cowl, so we could see more emotion or stress in it." At the same time, technical supervisor Graham Churchyard was charged with mixing a new foam mixture that would hold more air and make the suit lighter.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
More work has gone into the cowl fitting to bless Batman with addition mobility, if not the option of going full Exorcist with his head. "It's been completely redesigned in order for him to be able to move his head," explains Hemming. "All the bulk's gone."
Like the suit itself, Batman's gauntlets rapidly developed to add extra scarifying and grievous-wounding power. "By the time we got to The Dark Knight we were saying, 'If only these would do something," says Hemming. From those basic guards Bruce Wayne noted on Ra's al Ghul's wrists was added offensive capability, but first a raison d'etre was needed. "Chris embellishes the story as you're developing and I think especially with the gauntlets, we were looking for a reason why he wears these blades on his arms, and obviously that works with the way he fights on ice."
Even after three movies, Hemming still has one reservation. "I absolutely love his suit now, and I love the cape, cowl and blades that shoot out of his gloves, but I don't like the boots," she admits. "I'm allowed to say that! It's a good lesson: if you don't like something when you first do it, you definitely won't like it three films later. We could give him one boot for standing on top of a building and another one for close-ups, because Chris wants to shoot everything. How he stands is how it is."
"The neck has been very wide," says the designer. "In Batman Begins he couldn't turn his head, but he had much more feeling of movement and lightness."
THE UTILITY BELT
"We redesigned the belt completely," says the designer. Her brief involved tweaking the Bat-belt to reflect the new functions that Bruce Wayne regularly added to it. "We also redesigned the buckle to incorporate the Bat sign in a modern way, without it being stuck on the buckle. That went on all the way through prep."
"It was imperative to maintain the silhouette, so the cloak occupied a lot of our time," recalls Hemming. "It had to open and Chris wasn't keen on CGI." The solution involved tubes that billowed air through the fabric and floated the cape. " We used the thinnest parachute material, probably in the world, and put an almost velvet surface on it – 'flocking' it's called – which made for a blackness, an animal feeling.
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