Batman Forever Costume Designer Explains What Inspired Val Kilmer’s Batsuit Nipples

When it comes to Batman Forever, there is one thing that sticks out in the mind of fans more than anything else. It isn’t the manic performance of Jim Carrey as the Riddler, or the lavish sets, or the colorful background characters that make up the world of Gotham. It is Batman’s nipples. Now, costume designer Jose Fernandez has revealed the shockingly simple reason the infamous additions were made to the Batsuit of Val Kilmer, and it all comes down to classic Roman armor.

In an interview with MEL celebrating the 25th anniversary of Joel Schumacher’s attempts to take over directing duties on the Batman franchise from Tim Burton, Fernandez explained his reasons for designing the Batsuit as it appeared in the movie, and expressed his astonishment at how much of a talking point it became. He said:

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“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.”

Of course, the suit’s nipples became even more defined during George Clooney’s time in the Batsuit, and that is something best left well in the past, but it is interesting after all this time to finally discover that the root of all the controversy surrounding the costume’s design is essentially down to armor designs from thousands of years ago and not for some of the more dubious reasons people assumed.

Batman Suits Have Evolved in the Last Few Decades

Although the idea of Batman being a Centurion of Gotham, the more recent outings for the DC icon have stayed firmly away from the idea of giving the Batsuit more features inspired by the ancient Romans. Christian Bale and Ben Affleck have both seen their suits become more beefed up, with plates and solid block effects taking up most of the chest area. While Robert Pattinson’s suit has been altered again from these designs, the outcome has still been grittier and more noir-based than anything from classical history.

One thing that has not changed is that with every new iteration of Batman, there comes a new Batsuit, and with every Batsuit comes a mixed opinion about its look. While fans never completely agree with each other on what makes the perfect Batsuit, one thing that they have been unanimous on in the past is that the nipples of Val Kilmer and George Clooney’s suits were just wrong. However, now knowing the history behind the design, the real question is does it change any opinions about those two suits, or is it still just something that is best not spoken about?