The Worst Batsuit Is Up For Auction

Who's going to buy it?

By Michileen Martin | Published

It was the movie that nearly killed a franchise, that still makes fans either laugh or cringe depending on their mood, and any “worst superhero movies” list without it has lost all merit. It is, of course, 1997’s Batman & Robin which featured George Clooney‘s one and only turn as Gotham’s iconic Caped Crusader. Now — presumably either for its pure cinematic memorabilia value, or possibly to burn it — some buyers are interested in purchasing the suit Clooney wore in Batman & Robin. The hated Batsuit is going up for auction with a starting bid of $40,000.

Variety reports that Clooney’s extra-nipply Batsuit is going up for auction as part of Heritage’s Hollywood & Entertainment Signature Auction, taking place Friday July 22 to Saturday July 23. Clooney’s costume won’t be the only piece from the Batman mythos at the sale either. The purple suit Jack Nicholson wore as the Joker in 1989’s Batman will have a starting bid of $65,000 and the walking cane Jim Carrey used as the Riddler in 1995’s Batman Forever will start at $8,000.

Rather than shy away from the infamy of the Batsuit, Heritage Auction’s executive VP Joe Maddalena embraced it in a statement to the press, saying, “to his credit, [Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher] never apologized for the ‘Bat-nipples.’ In fact, he once told Vice, ‘I’m still glad we did it.’ And I am just as glad we have the chance now to offer this piece of cinema history to someone who can appreciate the costume as much as Schumacher clearly did.”

batsuit auction
George Clooney in Batman & Robin (1997)

While the Batsuit Heritage is putting up for auction is hardly the first or last thing about Batman & Robin that rendered the film the worst in the series, to many fans the infamous “Nipple-Suit” became the symbol of everything wrong with the movie. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t in Batman & Robin that the nipples were added, but when Val Kilmer took the lead role in Batman Forever.

Recently, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin lead sculptor Jose Fernandez spoke to Mel Magazine about the origin of the nipples. He confessed to being the guy who added them. Contrary to those who had speculated the idea came from fetish outfits, Fernandez said his inspiration was ancient Roman armor. He also pointed to the source material, correctly noting that many comic book superheroes and villains are drawn as if they “were naked with spray paint on them.”

Regardless of the infamous Batsuit up for auction, nothing Clooney wore in Batman & Robin could’ve saved the film. Its chief crime was utterly abandoning the unique tone and atmosphere Tim Burton created in his first two films in the series. The inspiration from Adam West’s sixties series was there in Burton’s films, but it was only one piece of a mosaic. Schumacher’s final Batman movie, on the other hand, went full blown camp. It turned often riveting antagonists like Poison Ivy and Mister Freeze into little more than pun-delivery systems, and turned the fan-favorite bad guy Bane into a cartoonish and mindless brute. Whoever buys Clooney’s old suit won’t be receiving the reason the Burton/Schumacher series failed, but just one piece of evidence from the scene of a larger crime.