Never mind Val Kilmer or Jim Carrey’s Riddler – Batman Forever introduced Batnipples to the big screen. Now, the Batsuit’s designer has finally explained himself.
Tim Burton is one of the founding fathers of the superhero pop culture boom. 1989’s Batman was more than just a hit, it was a cultural phenomenon, the likes of which moviegoers had never experienced, but one that would be replicated again, again, and again in decades to come.
While overcoming some hesitation, Burton returned for the wilder, darker Batman Returns. It was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $226 million worldwide – but it wasn’t good enough for Warner Bros., who dropped the gothic king for the lord of pantomime himself: Joel Schumacher.
Batman Forever isn’t bad – it’s just really weird. It dances with fascinating ideas (like that deleted scene of the giant bat), features a wicked double-act with Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, and goes to the bother of casting Nicole Kidman for a thankless role. All of that, and we haven’t even gotten to the Batnipples.
Val Kilmer’s Batnipples in Batman Forever were “informed by Roman armor”
George Clooney’s Batsuit in Batman and Robin is generally considered to be the biggest costume abomination: the two-toned purple-grey and silver design; the inclusion of a Bat Credit Card; and yes, the Batnipples. But the seeds for all of this nonsense were sowed in Batman Forever, with Kilmer’s suit designed by Jose Fernandez.
In a new interview with MEL, Fernandez explained: “With Val Kilmer’s suit in Batman Forever, the nipples were one of those things that I added. It wasn’t fetish to me, it was more informed by Roman armor — like Centurions.
“And, in the comic books, the characters always looked like they were naked with spray paint on them — it was all about anatomy, and I like to push anatomy.
“I don’t know exactly where my head was at back in the day, but that’s what I remember. And so, I added the nipples. I had no idea there was going to end up being all this buzz about it.”
Joel Schumacher apologized to Batman fans over Batnipples – but he doesn’t regret it
In an earlier interview with Vice to mark the 20th anniversary of Batman and Robin, Schumacher said: “Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that… I just know that I’ll always go down over the nipples on Batman starting with Batman Forever.”
Back in 1995, ahead of Batman Forever’s release, Schumacher told Premiere magazine how he wanted a “sexy, very sensual, very body-hugging suit… it’s my Gotham City, and if I want Batman to have nipples, he’s going to have nipples!”
In the later interview, he defended the suit, saying he honestly thought it was “cool” when Fernandez revealed the design, and he was “still glad” that they followed through with it.
He joked: “Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue. It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it.”