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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Batman Gets a Costume Overhaul in Dark Knight

[SPOILER ALERT!] Throughout The Dark Knight movie, there are many references to Batman's costume; and there are much more details about the costume and its ongoing design revealed throughout the movie. During the first scene, when batman is attacked by the mod dogs, he goes to Lucius Fox and asks for better armor, lighter and more agility. And he asks to be able to turn his head. I really love how throughout both The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, they focus on making the suit and all its gadgets truly believable. The take some painstaking effort to liken it to the armor and technology of today. Any Bat-Fan can truly appreciate details like this! And for a Bat-Fan and a costume lover, I am in heaven!

Redesigning the Bat Suit for The Dark Knight
Movie The Dark Knight Posted By: PuppetMaster / Source

The silhouette of Batman is an indelible image, instantly recognizable to even the most casual observer. Chris Nolan and costume designer Lindy Hemming knew it was important to preserve that image in redesigning and updating the Batsuit for "The Dark Knight."

Focusing on increased comfort and better flexibility, Hemming and her team did extensive research into the protective suits worn by motocross riders, as well as military issue protective armor. "We wanted the new Batsuit to be a more supple, more maneuverable, more breathable piece of equipment, like a modern suit of armor instead of a rubber suit," Hemming says, referring to the neoprene material used in making the Batsuit for "Batman Begins."

The new Batsuit is comprised of 110 separate pieces. The base layer of the suit was made of a polyester mesh material, which is employed by the military and high-tech sports manufacturers because of its moisture-wicking properties. Then individually molded pieces of flexible urethane were attached to the mesh to form the overall armor plating. For added protection, carbon fiber panels, which are light yet incredibly strong and resistant, were placed inside a select group of the urethane pieces around the legs, chest and abdomen.

To illustrate the evolution of the Batsuit from "Batman Begins" to "The Dark Knight," costume FX supervisor Graham Churchyard points out, "There were essentially three main components to the Batsuit in 'Batman Begins' and on this film there were more than 100, so it was a very complicated suit. Add to that, all of those individual pieces had to be modeled and then molded and cast. Each piece also had to be replicated dozens of times for the multiple Batsuits needed for the overall production. It was an extraordinary amount of work."

At the behest of both Nolan and Bale, Hemming's main mission was to modify the Batsuit to allow more rotation of the head and neck. "In the past, Batman has always had to move his shoulders to turn his head, so that was a definite priority," Bale affirms. The seemingly simple answer was to separate the cowl from the rest of the suit, but it had to appear seamless so as not to compromise The Dark Knight's imposing silhouette.

The overall redesign suited Christian Bale perfectly. "It was much more comfortable and far less claustrophobic than the first suit. It was also more agile and gave me better range of motion, which helped with the action and fight sequences. But it still gave me that feeling of invincibility," he acknowledges. "You can't help but feel protected and more powerful when you put the Batsuit on. It just works."

When it came to fighting and protection, the new and improved Batsuit did more than offer added flexibility. It is also outfitted with a variety of gadgets to aid Batman in his war on crime, including razor sharp fins that can be extended and then fired from the gauntlets on his forearms; and sonar-imaging lenses which flip down within Batman's cowl, enabling him to see sonar images in 3D while masking his eyes behind glowing white shields.

The only design element of the Batsuit that remained unchanged from "Batman Begins" to "The Dark Knight" was the cape. Hemming says, "We spent a lot of time getting the cape right for the first film, and we didn't want to change it." The cape does have one added feature: it can fold itself into a kind of backpack and then unfurl on command, which was accomplished through digital effects.

While Bruce Wayne's image is not as iconic as that of his alter ego, he has his own distinctive sartorial style, dictated by his financial and social status. To clothe the man behind the mask, Hemming collaborated with legendary fashion designer Giorgio Armani. "Chris Nolan and I wanted Bruce Wayne to have an elegantly tailored appearance," Hemming offers. "We felt that the Giorgio Armani brand was emblematic of the contemporary classic look we were going for. We chose the fabrics and then worked directly with Mr. Armani and his people to tailor an entire wardrobe of suits, custom-made for the character." As Bruce Wayne, Bale wears Armani's newest line, Giorgio Armani Hand Made-to-Measure. Each suit carries Armani's traditional customized owner's label, in this case Giorgio Armani for Bruce Wayne.

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