Burton bought on Academy-Award winning costume designer Bob Ringwood who transformed the look of Gotham’s hero

Burton bought on Academy-Award winning costume designer Bob Ringwood who transformed the look of Gotham’s hero

(LEFT) Lot 69 – Batman’s (Adam West) Surfboard Logo, Batman (TV 1966-1968) and (RIGHT) Lot 70 – The Joker’s (Cesar Romero) Surfboard Logo, Batman (TV 1966-1968)

Producers Michael E. Uslan and Benjamin Melniker acquired the film rights from DC Comics and Ulsan wanted to explore a gloomier and more serious version of Batman for the silver screen.

One of his most memorable looks from the film features a purple wool fedora style hat; a purple tailcoat; a satin teal cravat; a teal waistcoat; an orange satin shirt; purple suede gloves and a pair of brightly coloured plaid pattern trousers

Ringwood produced a more armoured and muscular design and introduced the combination of prop-making techniques within his costume design. This version of the Batsuit reflected the original comic book designs and stepped away from the boldness seen in the series back in the 60s. The blue and grey colour scheme was replaced with an all-black ensemble, with hints of yellow. It was this design that would become the template for the Batsuits in all subsequent live-action film adaptations.

Producing this new Batsuit was a lengthy process and required many trials with varying materials. The tight-fitting suit was made from Neoprene with sculpted foam-rubber body armour sections.

There were also several trials in creating the cowl and cape – both fundamental elements of the costume. Thick latex featuring a bat-skin texture was used to produce a heavy cape which created impact when it moved on screen. The bottom of the cowl featured scalloped seams which were glued and bolted down to the cape to produce a seamless finish. However, this meant that Keaton could not physically turn his head without damaging the costume, and the suit caused a variety of mobility issues for the actor and stunt actors. This was a problem that remained with subsequent Batsuits for many years to come. It was also known to be a very claustrophobic costume to wear, something that Keaton used as an advantage as it helped him get into character. Black makeup was also applied around Keaton’s eyes and worn under the mask to produce a more menacing appearance.

And who better to help steer the character into a darker setting then director Tim Burton, who was already well-known for his love for the weird and gothic visuals

When first seen on screen in Burton’s 1989 Batman, Jack Nicholson played mob enforcer Jack Napier. However, an encounter with Gotham’s caped vigilante hero ended up with Napier falling into a vat of acid at Axis Chemicals (one of the well-known origin stories created for the Joker’s character). This resulted in his skin turning an eery bleached white, his green and questionable plastic surgery after the accident left him with a permanent macabre smile. Ringwood wanted the production as a whole to feel like it was stuck in the 1940’s, with that period gangster style becoming a major influence on multiple costumes within the film.

Nicholson’s own personal style was enhanced, and he even had his own input into the costumes, such as the shade of purple matching his favourite sports team, the LA Lakers.

Lot 79 – Bob Ringwood Printed Production Costume Designs for Batman (Michael Keaton) and the Joker (Jack Nicholson), Batman Tinder review (1989)

In Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman, the main difference in design for this Batsuit is that is that it exhibited a sleeker and more armoured look than in 1989 design. The torso section in particular featured art deco plating style sections rather than the more muscular form. According to Bob Ringwood, images of art deco appliances and industrial vehicles were used as inspiration and their aerodynamic designs were translated into the design of the suit. Learning from the previous production, the foam rubber material used to construct this costume was slightly thinner and flexible, allowing the actor more movement. The design of the chest emblem was also tweaked so it resembled the design originally seen in the comics and the cowl now displayed a smooth finish as opposed to the bat-skin texture seen in the 1989 iteration.

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