Dark Knight Discussion: Batman’s Many Armors

Sometimes, even Batman needs a little help. Or course, the only help that Batman needs is from Batman.

As a character, Batman fights evil by relying on his hand-to-hand combat abilities, his genius intellect, and a variety of gadgets. But sometimes The Dark Knight is faced with a threat that he cannot overcome with his own human capabilities. While The Caped Crusader’s intelligence has allowed him to find countless solutions to his challenges, sometimes the right answer comes from smashing his enemies. Over the years, Batman has debuted numerous armors, providing him with the power and speed he needs to conquer even the most powerful enemies.

While the appeal of Batman is that he is a man who has pushed himself to be the best he can be, making him a more relatable hero, it’s also completely awesome to see him show off some new technological advancement just in time to beat the bad guys. And what can be better than a shiny and all-powerful armor? Sure, Iron Man may be best known for his countless suits of armor, but there is something special about Batman in armor.

Read on for Batman’s many armors from across the decades, ranging from pieces of ‘90s excess to battle suits capable of taking out gods. For a look at the Batsuit, read Batman’s Costumes Through the Ages Part 1 and Part 2.

Power Armor – The Dark Knight Returns

This is the granddaddy of them all. The Power Armor worn by Batman in The Dark Knight Returns is not only one of the first ever seen worn by the character, it’s also the one that has inspired almost all others on this list. When The Dark Knight is forced into a confrontation with Superman in the streets of Gotham, he dons this outfit to stand toe to toe with The Man of Steel.  But even then, Batman knows he’s outclassed. Green Arrow hits Superman with a Kryptonite arrow and Batman uses Gotham’s entire power grid to shock him, helping to take him down a few notches for the fight. Besides power up his punches and kicks and allowing him to withstand Superman’s attack, there is not much more to this outfit. But it’s design and place in one of Batman’s most iconic fights has helped it leave an imprint on decade of readers. So much so that something like it will be used in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Best Feature: By plugging into the lamppost at the spot where his parents were murdered, Batman redirects all of Gotham’s power into Superman by clamping onto him. It blacks out the city, but manages to slightly weaken his opponent.

Azbats Armor – Knightquest

When Bruce Wayne had his back broken by the villain Bane, the crippled hero chose Jean Paul Valley, aka Azrael, to take over for him as the new Batman. Not a smart choice. The unhinged hero slowly transformed Batman into a brutal and technologically advanced war machine. During his tenure, the Batman costume was given clawed gauntlets, then thick armor, and finally a computer-targeted batarang machinegun. While the new armor may have given him the ability to dive headfirst into combat with legions of goons, it also helped him shred his enemies and even kill several criminals thanks to his growing psychosis. When a healed Batman returned, his exploited Valley’s dependence on his technology to slowly break him down. Needless to say, Bruce never used any of his replacement’s armor upgrades.

Best Feature: The Batarang machinegun. It’s excessive, deadly, and very un-Batman, but that’s who Azrael is. This is Batman meets The Punisher. A strange and unforgettable combination.

The Suit of Sorrows – The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul

It’s a mystical piece of armors dating back centuries, which gives its wearer advanced capabilities at the cost of their soul. The suit was created during the Crusades and given to a knight, but he was driven insane and slaughtered innocents. Only a person who is pure of heart can wear The Suit of Sorrows without being slowly driven insane by the mystical armor. However, anyone who wears it can be given incredible strength and speed. Batman wore it for a time in his quest to stop a newly revived Ra’s al Ghul, but gave it up after slowly being overcome with rage. Eventually, it was worn by Michael Lane, the new Azrael, who knew that it would slowly drive him insane, but took on the burden in his quest for redemption. It was eventually used by Batman again in an armor featured later in this list.

Best Feature: Rather than upgrade Batman with technology like the other armors on this list, this is a mystical enhancement, marking one of the few times The Dark Knight has dabbled in magic to give him an edge over his enemies.

Exosuit – Kingdom Come

In the dark future of Kingdom Come, Bruce Wayne is suffering from the combined total of the many injuries he has suffered in his years as Batman, including a broken back. While he rarely goes out on patrol any more, relying on robot sentinels to patrol the streets of Gotham, his future armor allows him to do battle when necessary. Covered in head to toe with stiff but still mobile armor, Batman’s entire body is protected in order to get him into the field. It also features weapons galore and allows him to fly. This future version of Bruce is The Batman 24/7, having given up his playboy life and dedicated himself to fighting crime with every part of his life and living solely in the Batcave. It’s not a pretty future, but there is hope and redemption by the end, even for a broken Batman.

Best Feature: Bells and whistles aside, the simple fact that this fortified armor allows a crippled Batman to still battle with the best of them is easily it’s most defining and greatest element.

Thrasher Armor – City of Owls

While it may not have one defining feature that elevates it above the other armors on this list, Batman’s tank-like a\Thrasher Armor from the City of Owls storyline definitely makes an impact. Locked in the Batcave with Alfred, severely injured, and surrounded by Talon assassins, Bruce jumps into this heavy duty armors to do battle. Thanks to EMP blasts, freezing batarangs, and shocking gauntlets, this suit can do heavy battle with the nearly-immortal Talons. But it’s also a survival suit, with its own sealed environment, protecting it from cold and providing enough oxygen to last for weeks. By freezing out the Talons, Bruce was able to beat them back and survive in the suit.

Best Feature: While its use in the story is fantastic, this thing is just plain cool looking. The only thing better than Batman is a huge and heavily armored Batman ready to do battle with overwhelming forces.

Justice Buster – Batman: Endgame

While Batman has always had contingency plans in place in the event that any of the Justice League members turned rogue, the Justice Buster is the combined total of these plans turned into a single suit. Besides being a hulking and powerful juggernaut, weapons include a lasso to ensnare Wonder Woman in an illusion, a dehydrating foam for Aquaman, a fast-than-thought laser for The Flash, and miniature red suns embedded in the gauntlets for Superman. When the members of the Justice League are rendered insane and under the control of The Joker, Batman debuts the armor and takes them down in the most non-damaging way possible.

Best Feature: The Justice Buster is able to take on Superman, easily the League’s most powerful member. While it’s no easy battle, Batman is able to eventually take down The Man of Steel until the effects of The Joker’s poison have worn off.

Gordon Exo-Batsuit – Batman: Superheavy

gordon-batman-mech-suit-robot-bat-bunnyIn the wake of Batman’s supposed death, Jim Gordon is selected by the Gotham Police Department and Powers International to be the new Batman. While this somewhat younger Gordon trains to get in shape for the role, he receives massive backup in the form of a mech suit. Referred to by readers and Gordon himself as a sort of “robo bat-bunny,” the suit allows Gordon to fight against super-powered criminals. Decked out with stun weapons, massive strength and speed, and minor artificial intelligence that allows it to assist Gordon when he’s out of the suit, this armor acts as both weapon and partner in fighting crime. In addition, the suit’s color scheme can be altered automatically to reflect numerous different looks. However, that artificial intelligence was hacked by the villain Mr. Bloom and used to turn the suit against Gordon. While Gordon would eventually stop the suit, it exposed a major weakness that nearly destroyed Gotham, precipitating Bruce Wayne’s return as the one true Batman.

Best Feature: By integrating voice commands, Gordon is able to actively work with the mech suit when fighting criminals. Gordon refers to the suit as “Rookie” when commanding it and the result is an awesome double team in the war against crime.

Hellbat – Batman & Robin

One of several Batman armors to come to life in recent comic books, Batman’s Hellbat armor is created for all-out war with the forces of Apokalips and Darkseid himself. Unlike his other armors, the Hellbat was created by the members of the Justice League in case Batman had to fight a world-threatening villain with the rest of them. The Hellbat was forged by Hephaestus of Olympus and technologically upgraded by Cyborg, then tested by Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman to prove its durability. Batman took the Hellbat to the planet Apokalips to retrieve the body of Damian Wayne. While there, he easily fought his way through hordes of Parademons, the villain Kalibak, and more. However, running the suit puts an immense strain on Batman’s metabolism, which could potentially cost him his life if used for too long.

Best Feature: While the Hellbat provides flight capabilities and many gadgets, it’s best element is pure power. Batman is as strong as Superman in this suit, giving him the chance to brawl with villains that would give even The Man of Steel trouble in combat.

Future Batsuit – Batman Beyond

The costume of the Batman of the future, the Batman Beyond suit has been given several cameo appearances in present day-set comic books, paying homage to this well-loved animated series. While comic books have tweaked the origins, this suit was created to support an aging Bruce Wayne, who was still fighting crime despite being far past his prime. When he quit, the Batman Beyond suit was eventually given to Terry McGuinness. The armor is far better equipped than Batman’s typical outfit, including wings, rocket boosters, stealth mode, and an intricate computer system that allows him to communicate with the Batcave, hack into systems, and communicate with the Batmobile. It’s not a tank like most of the armors on this list, but it’s powerful.

Best Feature: While its flight capabilities are handy, the fold-out Batarangs stored in the arms are easily the coolest part, allowing Batman to slide them into his hands at a moment’s notice for an attack.

Combo Exoskeleton – Batman, Inc.

The ultimate expression of Batman’s desperate counterattack again Talia al Ghul and her villainous corporation Leviathan, this piece is actually several elements put together as one. Batman wears The Suit of Sorrows, adds and exoskeleton for extra weaponry, and takes Man-Bat serum to boost his strength and give him wings. It’s an extreme measure, but it’s needed to wage war on the legion of Man-Bat ninjas and The Heretic, who had previously beaten Batman and the forces of Batman, Inc. Simply put, Batman is extremely overpowered, giving him the ability to destroy opponents in seconds flat. But he’s barely in control, full of raging and freaking out due to the Man-Bat serum, so this is a last resort for Bruce. But it’s quite effective.

Best Feature: Seeing a feral and raging Batman, transfigured by Man-Bat serum is a frightening sight for even fans of the character. Just imagine being the villain targeted by this unhinged hero of the night.

Stealth Suit – Superman: Unchained

When Superman is searching for answer in the pages of Superman: Unchained, he asks Batman for help in discovering whether it is possible to be cloaked from even his superpowered vision. In turn, Bruce creates a suit that is able to detect what wavelength it is being viewed on and adapt in order to render it invisible to its viewer. This proves to Superman that it truly is possibly to become hidden from his sight and also gives Batman a new and powerful piece of armor. While it only made a brief appearance in the series, it may come back into play in future Batman stories. Now that Batman can hide from his buddy, he can easily turn the tables on him should things ever take a turn for the worse with either of them. Maybe not such a good idea, Superman? Also, he looks like he’s straight out of Image Comics in the ’90s.

Best Feature: Well, the stealth, obviously. That’s basically the entire purpose of this armor.

Metal Men Armor – Justice

When the Justice League is rocked by the Legion of Doom, the heroes eventually regroup and armor up thanks to the help of The Metal Men. These living embodiments of metal elements transform themselves into armor, giving added protection and power to the heroes so they can conquer their foes once and for all. Fitting in with the Super Friends style take on the heroes and villains, Batman’s armor is inspired by Batman ’66, which makes him both powerful and awesome looking. The Legion of  Doom doesn’t stand a chance, especially with an overpowered Justice League teaming up. Of course, this Batman doesn’t do the Batusi. So points taken off.

Best Feature: The simple fact that this has the exact color scheme and trimming of the 1966 Adam West Batman Batmobile makes this The Dark Knight’s most stylish armor, bar none.

Fireproof Armor – Batman: The Animated Series

Making only brief appearance in a few episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman’s fireproof armor is put into use whenever he faces the pyromaniac villain Firefly. Its complete coverage and thick armor help The Caped Crusader withstand direct flames and blasts from his opponent so that he can get close to the villain and take him out. While it is far from the flashiest or most powerful suit on the list, it is one of the few times that Batman from B:TAS wore anything other than his normal suit, making it memorable in its own right. The simple style and dark colors line up well with the animation of the series, helping it feel right at home with the series as a whole.

Best Feature: Better than withstanding flames, the Fireproof Armor shoots out extinguishing foam, which eliminates his enemy’s capabilities to stop the danger at its source.

Have your personal favorite armor from Batman’s arsenal? Say yours in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Dark Knight Discussion: Batman’s Many Armors

  1. Pingback: Dark Knight Discussion: Batman’s Costumes Through the Ages (Part 1 of 2) – Crisis on Infinite Thoughts

  2. Pingback: Batman Day 2016: My Top 7 Articles on Batman – Crisis on Infinite Thoughts

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