Re: Bat-Character Costumes for a High School Stage Play
Clearly, The Batman’s costume was going to be a very important aspect of this play. It had to immediately feel real, legitimate, and it had to illicit the proper mood when first glimpsed by the audience. It was going to need to accept stage lighting well, while not coming off as a cheap, garish Halloween costume. The costume’s textures were going to require special attention so that it would feel rich, elegant and organic.
My approach to the The Batman’s overall costuming philosophy was that Bruce Wayne intended to frighten criminals while striking at them from the dark shadows. The only touches of vibrant color on the uniform (chest emblem and utility belt) would be strategically intended to be seen even in low light. This gives the uniform some contrast and visual interest, rather than being monochromatic and dull.
Also, I wanted to approach the Batman’s costume with THREE basic prescriptions in mind:
1) Para-military survival gear, mixed with
2) Primitive, tribal natural organic textures, mixed with
3) Stately old-world gothic.
For the para-military side, I designed the all-important yellow Utility Belt to appear as a bulky, (but neatly organized) collection of ammunition pouches and high tech vials containing The Batman’s myriad of weapons and urban survival crime-fighting gear. I wanted it to look big, well-stocked, and slightly dangerous.
But it’s the primitive, tribal aspect of the costume that I think ultimately dominates. Certainly it is the part of the costume philosophy that appeals to me the most. When dealing with this costuming mind-set, I imagined the approach of a fierce, tribal warrior: A large BEAST has been vanquished, and the warrior now wears its outer hide as a symbol of his own fighting prowess. The cranium and upper jaw of the animal is worn as a head dress, with only the lower half of the warrior’s own face exposed. The warrior honors the spirit of the fallen creature by wearing it’s skin and fighting on...
This primitive approach made me look at the Batman’s costume mostly in terms of organic textures like leather. The bat-cowl, cape, gauntlets, trunks, and boots would ALL need to share an identical black leathery texture. By contrast, the accents of color on the uniform (chest emblem and utility belt) would need to feel manufactured and synthetic. The skin-tight GREY (middle ground) body suit bridges the two worlds by appearing not quite synthetic and not quite organic. I studiously AVOIDED fashioning this garment with typical lycra Spandex due to its glitzy synthetic sheen and instead went with a charcoal grey Supplex material with a matte finish. But my motivation was also firmly intended to stay true to the color scheme of the costume in the comics to preserve the visual contrasts. Going with a black armored body suit (as is typically done in live-action Batman films) was not an option for me since it would only make the character (unattractively) mono-chromatic in my eyes.
In order to lend the character the stately, old-world, gothic flavor that I thought was necessary, I paid special attention to the sillhouetted outer contour of the assembled costume. The figure’s lines would need to be razor straight, emphasizing a powerful vertical force that was bigger than life. The long ears of the Bat cowl and the fanned-out lines of the cape at rest were intended to give the character height, power, and a Dracula-like presence.