Batman is a 1989 superhero movie directed by Tim Burton and based on the character of the same name created by Bob Kane which first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. The film stars Michael Keaton as billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne who fights crime in Gotham City disguised as his alter ego Batman who must prevent the rise to power of the ruthless Joker portrayed by Jack Nicholson whilst protecting love interest Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger). Batman was classic Burton, a dark visual masterpiece with incredible production design from Anton Furst, costume design by Bob Ringwood and visual effects from noted miniature specialist Derek Meddings it became an instant hit and popular culture phenomenon grossing over $400 million at the box office and winning the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the picture spawned an entertainment franchise which includes the Burton directed sequel Batman Returns and, following a 2005 reboot with Batman Begins, continues to the present day, it remains an influential favourite of the superhero genre.
An important element of the character is Batman's costume he wears whilst fighting crime on the streets of Gotham City. The Batsuit was visioned by costume designer Bob Ringwood and comprises of an armoured bodysuit featuring a emblem to the chest, a cowl with distinctive ears which covers the majority of his face with armoured legs and forearms, gloves and boots finished with a large floor length cape, this design by Ringwood would become the basic template on which all subsequent movie suits are based. The design of the Batsuit went through several incarnations before its final design was settled upon with the mobility of Keaton being a constant issue throughout, ultimately costume fabricator Vin Burnham sculpted armour sections which were moulded in foam rubber and applied to a one piece spandex undersuit with the now iconic cowl constructed from the same material.
Approximately twenty complete Batsuits were created by the production with a fewer number of capes as these were more durable and difficult to fabricate, even soon after their construction the soft foam suits were susceptible to damage and a number of photographs from the original test fittings highlight this, even at this stage in the production few were pristine. With this in mind the wardrobe assistants employed a system of using a fresh cowl and suit for close up shots of Keaton where the costume needed to stand up to close scrutiny with them being demoted to use in longer shots or action sequences as they became more worn where any imperfections would be less noticeable, the final stage was to use the costumes for stunt performers where even a suit showing considerable wear would go largely unnoticed on camera, also a number of suits were intentionally distressed for use in the climactic sequence following the Batwing crash where Batman and The Joker face off on the top of the Cathedral.
This costume is an original worn on screen by Michael Keaton as the caped crusader with it being possible to attribute both the cowl and bodysuit to specific sequences. Following its use by Keaton when fresh the cowl was worn by the stunt performer seen as Batman crashes through the skylight in the museum, for this sequence a small part of the chin was removed from the cowl to allow the stunt performer to look down in the restrictive head gear creating more visibility for him to safely perform the stunt. The one piece suit was cut at the waist during the production and used specifically for the close up shots of Keaton piloting the Batwing making it more comfortable for him to wear for long periods of time in the cockpit set. This ensemble has been mounted on a custom form with a lifecast of Michael Keaton and complimented with reproduction parts for display purposes. Over thirty years since its creation the costume shows some wear from the rigours of filming and age but this is true of any original screen used suit as they simply did not survive filming in pristine condition, it remains in overall excellent stable and displayable condition.
This represents a very rare survivor from the production of this influential superhero classic and an exceptional example of original movie wardrobe which is instantly recognisable to millions of moviegoers across the world.