Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blue Batman?

Some fans believe the colors of Batman's costume in the TV series are incorrectly interpreted, believing that Batman wasn't blue in the comics, but black instead. There's a belief that blue only meant to highlight the black. But was it really? It's safe to say it was both. It is possible that Batman truly did start  in black, but certainly in latter years he was officially wearing a blue suit.

The idea of Batman really being black in the comic books is supported by following quotes:

Bob Kane: The wings, trunks, and mask were black (Batman & Me 1989)

The cowl and cloak remained black, but since comics conventions demand that black objects be highlighted in blue, Batman’s uniform in effect became blue and gray.Batman: (The Complete History ~ Les Daniel 1999)

In Batman’s debut story, the key elements in his mythos were established; his eerie [black and gray] costume… Batman’s debut in Detective #27 has the estimable value of revealing Bat-Man (as he was called at first) exactly as envisioned by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. (Batman in the Forties ~ intro Bill Schell 2004)

However, some may point out that Kane's quote and first claim of Batman being originally black originated in 1989, coincidentally when the movie presented him as black for the first time. It's possible that it was just a retconning statement to support the movie. However, there are certainly elements in early comics which are undoubtedly black but colored in blue, such as Superman's hair. The early art also tends to support this thesis since Batman really was primarily black with small blue highlights

It wasn't later on when the colors were reversed and he was blue with black highlights. And then there comes a point in the artistic history of Batman where cops are shown wearing black uniforms highlighted with blue, and Batman is shown wearing a blue uniform highlighted with black. At that point, Batman is clearly supposed to be wearing blue
In this picture, for instance. If Batman is suppose to be wearing black, then what is Alfred wearing?

In the story The Super-Key to Fort Superman, Batman melted an identical wax-statue of himself to take it's place. And Superman clearly thinks to himself about the BLUE and gray blob of melted wax. He even tells it to Batman himself how the Batman figure is BLUE and gray.

 In The Strange Costumes of Batman! Detective Comics No. 165, Nov '50.  the suit is also described as blue: "Yes, it is the flashing figure of Batman, clad in the shadowy colors of blue and gray."

Verdict: It's very possible that Batman at first was black, but there is no doubt his costume was changed into blue down the road. therefore, Adam West's costume is spot on accurate with his comic book counterpart of the time



  1. And what's more, West's mask has that darker front area, suggesting the look of the comics. Interestingly, that area was clearly meant to be in shadow - even though it usually remained dark in broad daylight when Batman was directly facing the sun.

  2. Very happy to see a new post GA, we've all been waiting for one for a long time. Keep up the great work!

  3. The Black Widow episodes of the TV series said his cape and cowl were purple.

  4. Yeah, I knew its gonna come up sometime. Whether its blue or purple is a separate debate that Ive seen happening online many times. Personally in my opinion its a slight mix of both but mostly leaning towards blue. Im basing this opinion on the very recent pics of the costume from the show. Some are also posted in Les Daniels book. Imo its blue, but I can easily see why some would also see it as purple

    1. Yeah, it's blue to me. I don't know why they said it was purple. I guess it was deemed funnier.

    2. The cowl was certainly a very very blue color. The real cowls have been on display and screen accurate replicas have been made. The odd lighting in the series sometimes made the blue color seem more purple. This is a fact. Chuck Williams makes the best screen accurate cowl replicas in the world and even sold one to Adam West. The true cowl color can be seen here:

    3. Hi there GA, I've been scrolling through your blog for like two hours now (Adios to my productive day at work) and I am amazed and impressed! I'd love to get in contact with you via email or something. I am working on a little Batman passion-project of my own and while the blog itself is a great resource it would be real helpful to pick your brain, or get ahold of your research references. Anyways, thanks for a great read, and I hope to hear from you soon!

  5. Have you guys seen the chart with all variations of the bat suit? I found it on screenrant

  6. Batgirl was purple, batman was not. Its easy to see that when theyre next to each other:

  7. I guess it depends on who's drawing him. I can only assume they changed his colour (and ears) to either make him less scary to children, and/or appear less "Satanic" and therefore less potentially offensive to religious groups (apparently Spock had this problem).

    If it matters, I recall reading Dennis O'Neil's Batman: Knightfall novelization years ago, where I'm pretty sure O'Neil described Batman's cape and mask as black.

  8. IIRC, in the TV episode "That Darn Catwoman," she hypnotized Robin, and when she ordered him to beat up Batman, she said, "Slay the blue dragon." But many of us still had black-and-white TV's in the 1960's, and I thought of Batman's cape and cowl as black at that time.

  9. There is no such thing as a black highlight. The word you're looking for is "shadows".

  10. Batman's costume as it appears in Detective Comics #27 and other subsequent issues is a black costume. Later issues had the black costume drawn with blue highlights, which shows a greater contrast in the limited color palette of 1940s/1950s comics.

    If you look at old issues, the costume appear as black, but when you see reprints of some of those issues, the grey tone within the black has become blue.

    So it came about from shading and the printing process, eventually he did wear blue/grey costumes rather than black/grey costumes, but it started out as a necessity of shading and the printing process in my opinion, (and I may be wrong) later it is fair to say it was an artistic choice to actually make the costume blue in batman's world, rather than just appearing as blue.

    Another example is Marvel's Venom, who was drawn black by McFarlane to start with, and later got more and more blue highlights, until he eventually looked more blue than black, but was always black.
    Do a search for Detective Comics #36, on which the cover clearly shows batman in a black and grey costume, but the reprint shows him a blue and grey costume

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