The Mark of Batman: The Evolution of an Icon [Infographic]

The Mark of Batman: The Evolution of an Icon

Holy Batman Day, Batman! Do not adjust the contrast on your screen. You read correctly: BATMAN DAY! It's a thing, and it's happening this July 23, 2014, as part of Batman's 75th Anniversary celebration this year. We support any way you plan on celebrating this momentus occasion, be it hosting an all day Batman movie marathon, constructing your own DIY Bat-Signal, or simply covering the top half of your face and speaking in a husky voice all day. WE chose to honor The Caped Crusader by creating a visual history of the focal point of The Dark Knight's costume, the iconic bat symbol! Enjoy this fascinating progression, and you're welcome to click the image below for a larger version.


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Batman Symbol Evolution


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The Mark of Batman: The Evolution of an Icon Transcript

The famous bat symbol—the focal point of Batman's costume—has evolved significantly since the Dark Knight made his first appearance 75 years ago. See how Bruce Wayne's emblem has transformed from Detective Comics #27 to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice!


In the Comics

  • 1939: When Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27, his chest emblem had neither ears nor a head. The number of wing points along the bottom of the bat varied from panel to panel, but five was most common.
  • 1939: Soon the bat sprouted ears, and the rounded edges of the wings became sharper. Seven wing points along the bottom became more common, but it was still occasionally drawn with five.
  • 1940: By the time Batman was given his own self-titled series with Batman #1, the bat had grown in size, and the head became more visible. Extra details were added to the wings, but were frequently lost in the coloring when printed.
  • 1941: The bat wings quickly became more stylized and angular, while the head receded slightly. The wing points along the bottom went back down to five, and became longer and sharper.
  • 1944: Over the next four years, the bat gradually widened in size. During this time, it was drawn with anywhere between five and nine wing points along the bottom.
  • 1946: As the wings became a little less angular and the head a little more prominent, the bat finally started to resemble the familiar modern emblem, which made what happened next all the more perplexing.
  • 1950: As the bat grew even larger in size, the angle of the top of the wings gradually became more rounded, until they were completely curved.
  • 1956: Eventually the logo reverted to more compact and triangular version of the earlier bat. This one appeared on Batman's chest for most of a decade, aside from one minor detour.
  • 1958: For a few years, the bat became thinner and wider, with very long, sharp wing points along the bottom. The head also became subtly taller.
  • 1960: When the bat reverted to the previous version, the head remained slightly more prominent than before.
  • 1964: Although some have speculated that the yellow oval was added to make the bat symbol easier to trademark, the editor simply wanted a "new look" to more easily distinguish the Silver Age Batman from what came before.
  • 1966: The wings soon spread out and filled the oval, resulting in an iconic emblem that lasted over the three decades.
  • 1986: In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, an older Batman of the future was shown using the yellow oval to draw gunfire toward his bulletproof vest. He then changed into a new top featuring a large bat inspired by older emblems.
  • 1987: The story of Batman's earliest days was retold and updated in Batman: Year One. Like The Dark Knight Returns, the bat was only loosely based on past emblems. The yellow oval continued to appear in modern-day Batman stories.
  • 2000: The yellow oval has a 36-year run until it was removed in 2000. The bat that replaced it is similar in shape to the one first worn by Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. Batman's suit was redesigned in 2011, but the bat remains the same.


On the Big Screen

  • 1943: Batman's big-screen debut was in a self-titled serial starring Lewis Wilson. The emblem was a thin, wide bat with wing detailing, like a mix between the 1939 and 1940 emblems in the comics.
  • 1949: This led to a second serial, titled Batman & Robin, which starred Robert Lowery in the lead role. The bat was larger and worn further down on his chest, and had round mouse-like ears.
  • 1966: Adam West's bat was similarly worn in the center of his chest. Visually, it looks like a mid-point between the 1964 and 1966 emblems from the comics, the wings just beginning to conform to the shape of the oval.
  • 1989: Oddly, the bat Michael Keaton wore on his suit did not match the one on the iconic movie poster, containing two extra wing points along the bottom.
  • 1992: Keaton wore a modified in Batman Returns that was more in line with the recognizable oval logo.
  • 1993: The animated team portrayed by Kevin Conroy in the film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm wore the standard yellow oval from the comics and 1989 movie poster.
  • 1995: In Batman Forever, Val Kilmer initially wore a suit similar to Keaton's, before changing into a new one that ditched the yellow oval in favor of black-on-black look with a large bat that spanned the width of his chest.
  • 1997: The suit worn by George Clooney in Batman & Robin continued the monotone color scheme, bringing back the oval minus the yellow. The bat subtly combined Batman and Robin's emblems into one.
  • 1997: The cast of Batman & Robin changed costumes mid-film so there could be more action figures. Clooney's second costume was a variation on Kilmer's suit, with silver shaped added to make it more "toyetic".
  • 2005: Christian Bale's suit in Batman Begins returned to the layered black-on-black look, this time with a bat similar in shape to the one introduced in the comics in 2000.
  • 2008: Bale's armor in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises displayed a new bat shape, easily identified by the wings that align horizontally along the upper edge.
  • 2016: The bat worn by Ben Affleck in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is taller and thicker, taking inspiration from 1986's The Dark Knight Returns.

Sources: DC Comics, The Making of Batman & Robin, Was Superman a Spy?


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What do you think? Are you able to pick a favorite bat symbol? Let us know in the comments below. We're also curious to hear how and if you plan on celebrating Batman Day. We might just pick up a bunch of Batman costumes and run around town forming a group of vigilante crime fighters. Then again, that doesn't sound particularly legal.

Aleksandra Sobic
Aleksandra Sobic

Aleksandra is’s brand manager and senior Mario consultant. She believes that her stature, hair, passion for pink, and reverence of cake, make her the ideal candidate to play Princess Peach on Broadway. Some additional interests include crafting, wine, correcting people’s grammar, obsessing over Jurassic Park (remember, women inherit the earth!), and brainstorming ways to make sexy costume representations of typically un-sexy pop culture characters. Donkey Kong was a breeze but Jabba the Hutt is proving formidable.

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