“The Batman” star Robert Pattinson imbues his obscure crime-fighter with an outward emotionality that allows the viewer to read his performance as a costumed vigilante as easily as his performance as wealthy recluse Bruce Wayne. But that wouldn’t be possible without the work of David Crossman and Glyn Dillon, the costume designers behind the new Batsuit.
Artists credit new manufacturing technologies unavailable to former Batman designers that allow costumes to be created with nuanced performance in mind, giving Pattinson a greater range of movement and expression. “We were just very, very aware from the start how flexible this all had to be,” Crossman says.
One of the ways their take on the iconic costume differs from other cinematic incarnations is that they give the Dark Knight cowl a “neutral” expression.
“In previous iterations of the top cover, it looked more like a demon face and it has a pointed nose and a built-in scowl,” Dillon explains. “Knowing that with this script, it was going to be a lot of [Batman] standing around talking and doing some detective work, I felt like that was maybe a little too over the top and I felt like something a little quieter was needed.
Reimagining one of the most well-known superhero costumes ever seen on the big screen is no small feat, but viewers might be surprised to learn that director Matt Reeves has turned to other icons of movie celebrities with a quirky sense of justice for at least one of its Batman gimmicks. “When Matt came to us, he wanted the harpoon gun somehow in the armband,” Dillon explains. “He was always talking about the Robert De Niro movie ‘Taxi Driver’.”
In this Martin Scorsese-directed film, De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, builds a contraption that conceals a gun in his sleeve, allowing him to slide it out and fire the weapon. In “The Batman”, Pattinson’s masked vigilante uses a similar device to store his grappling hook. The gadget is memorably used in the film to evade the Gotham Police Department and dispatch enemies in one of its brutal fight scenes.
When it comes to lighting their Batsuit, the designers reflect on their previous work with “The Batman” cinematographer Greig Fraser on “Rogue One.” “When we were doing Darth Vader, again, it’s an all-black character. But when you actually see the helmet in real life, you realize that big chunks of it are painted dark silver,” explains Dillon.
Another of Batman’s signature gadgets the artists worked on is the batarang, which functions more like a knife sitting on Batman’s chest in the form of his badge. The bat symbol “wasn’t just a bat-shaped leather cutout glued to the chest,” Dillon explains. “It had an appropriate purpose.”
This commitment to realism was one of their guiding principles. “We were definitely going for the feeling that everything was utilitarian.”