James Gunn Batman Can Change The DCU With One Color

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

zack snyder batman

I’m excited to see what James Gunn does with the upcoming DCU, particularly how popular characters will be tweaked to stand out against past incarnations. While characterization and writing are the most important factors, costuming is particularly important for superheroes, and visual changes can do a lot to set a character apart. For Batman, incorporating blue into his costume could make the new version instantly identifiable as a new take on the character. 

Batman Was Blue From The Beginning

Blue has been a part of Batman’s costume long before James Gunn was making movies, though not as an intentional part of his color scheme. When he first appeared in Detective Comics #27, he wore a grey and black costume, but the black cape often had blue embellishments. This was a common way of adding shading to black costumes in classic comics that readers didn’t always interpret that way, with Marvel’s Beast being another well-known example of this phenomenon. 

While the blue coloration in Batman’s costume may have been unintentional, it became an established part of his palette within a few decades. As the character’s visual style developed, many colorists moved away from the original black design. In 1958 Action Comics #241, the costume is described in a thought bubble as blue and grey, making the coloring of his costume in the universe clear.

The Long Halloween

Since the golden age, blue has been an important part of Batman’s color palate, and James Gunn’s DCU would be wise to use it as a distinguishing feature. The legendary comics artist Neal Adams, who was often the uncredited colorist of his work, established an iconic look for the character using the color. My favorite costume is the highly influential The Long Halloween, which features an iconic costume from artist Tim Sale and colorist Gregory Wright, inspired by the 70s look created by Neal Adams. 

Batman ’66

Outside of comics, black has been the dominant color except for in the 1966 Adam West TV show Batman and its movie adaptation. This version, synonymous with cheesy camp, is likely why later live-action versions avoided the lighter color scheme. For a more modern example, the DCU could look to The Flash, which had a brief cameo featuring Ben Affleck in a grey and blue costume, my favorite live-action version of the costume wasted on a truly awful movie. 

Batman ’89

Ever since the 1989 Batman, the character has worn predominantly black costumes, with grey and occasionally yellow accents. The most recent version of the costume, the one worn by Robert Pattinson in The Batman, takes its dark color scheme to the extreme with a dark grey and black color scheme. With that franchise continuing separately from the DCU, James Gunn will have to find ways to differentiate the two, and a striking blue cowl is the perfect visual way to do so. 

Batman And Robin Wasn’t All Black

Superhero costumes can define how audiences see a movie, from the notorious “bat nipples” in Batman and Robin to the groundbreaking comic-accurate suits in Iron Man. While it may seem like a small thing, James Gunn’s DCU needs to make costumes that feel straight from the comics while also feeling new to the world of cinema. As a fan, I want something to get me interested in the character again, and a distinct blue costume would do that instantly after years of increasingly dark, metallic costumes.