Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” films are famous not just for the set design and campy aesthetic, but for the “sharpened” nipples visible on the superhero suits.
“Batman & Robin” costume designer Jose Fernandez detailed the strong design decision to “showcase” Batman’s nipples, first in the 1995 film “Batman Forever” starring Val Kilmer, and even further (and infamously) accentuated for 1997 follow-up “Batman & Robin” with George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell as the titular Gotham heroes.
“It wasn’t fetish to me, it was more informed by Roman armor — like Centurions,” Fernandez told MEL Magazine. “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.”
Fernandez previously worked with Tim Burton on “Batman Returns” crafting the Catwoman suit prototype. And while the nipple-forward “Batman Forever” suit started with “just a little blob of clay” on the chest, Fernandez called the “subtle” styling decision a “blip” at first.
“But for ‘Batman & Robin’, Joel Schumacher loved the nipples, so he said, ‘Let’s showcase them,'” Fernandez continued, “Schumacher wanted them sharpened, like, with points. They were also circled, both outer and inner — it was all made into a feature of the batsuit. I didn’t want to do it, but he’s the boss, so we sharpened them, circled them and it all became kind of ridiculous.”
Fernandez added, “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.”
While the suits for Clooney’s Batman and O’Donnell’s Robin both featured the design, production passed on adding nipples to Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl costume.
“They said, ‘If the guys have nipples, the girls should have nipples, too,'” Fernandez remembered. “After I sculpted it though, everybody realized, maybe not. It was a bit obscene, so we took the nipples off.”
And Fernandez doesn’t consider himself a fan of the finished product anyways. “I don’t even know that I finished the film, to be honest. I was at the screening, but I was thinking to myself, ‘This is not good,'” he said. “To me, it was like a stage musical, but without the music, more than it was a Batman movie. The movie was just all over the map — it was silly and bombastic, and there are times where you got shots focused on just Batman’s ass. It was all a little much for me.”
“Batman Returns” director Tim Burton recently slammed Schumacher’s “Batman Forever,” released after the studio grew disillusioned Burton’s dark take on the Gotham Knight. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Okay. Hold on a second here. You complain about me, I’m too weird, I’m too dark, and then you put nipples on the costume? Go fuck yourself,'” Burton vented to Empire magazine. “Seriously. So yeah, I think that’s why I didn’t end up [doing a third film]…”