‘The Batman’ production designer was ‘freaking out’ trying to come up with fresh ideas

Since 1989, we’ve had six actors step into the Batsuit, with each new face coming with a redesigned costume and Bat-gadgets. Some of these – like the Batman ’89 Batmobile or Batman Begins‘ Tumbler – have become iconic in their own right. Faced with that long and memorable cinematic history, how do you find a new way to interpret the Dark Knight’s equipment and world? Well, The Batman managed it, but figuring it out caused a lot of headaches.

Production designer James Chinlund has gone into details on he and Matt Reeves’ take on Gotham City, the Batmobile, and Batcave in an interview with The Wrap, where he admits that designing them wasn’t easy. He worked closely with the director on building the world, with both of them keeping previous incarnations in mind.

“I think both of us were freaking out, where we’re basically trying to figure out where was the new space, because there have been so many iterations of Batman that came before, and we love them all in different ways. I think it’s an intimidating wall of history and art that you’re walking into. And we knew we wanted to deliver something familiar for the fans, and at the same time, something new.”

Inspiration struck when examining Bruce Wayne’s character. Previous Caped Crusaders have sourced a lot of their tech from Wayne Enterprises, but Robert Pattinson’s reclusive billionaire has isolated himself from the world, so his weapons and equipment are hand-made.

“I think that’s where Matt’s genius and leadership came in – he zeroed in on this idea about Bruce, and who he could be, and where he could be in his development as a superhero. That was the key for me as a designer to start opening up the world and following that path as we went forward. I think the idea that Bruce is early in his in his career and has turned his back on Wayne Industries and is doing it himself, in and of itself created new space that we hadn’t seen. We followed that line through the film.”

That paid off, with The Batman‘s leathery batsuit and muscle car Batmobile singled out for praise by critics. With The Batman 2 now confirmed, we should see his tech continue to evolve as the years pass. Here’s hoping the broadly plausible notion that all this could be built by one man tinkering in his bat-garage is brought forward, as we loved the more hands-on Wayne.

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