Since his first appearance in 1939, Batman has become a hugely important cultural icon.
Key to this longevity is the ability to evolve and change with the times and across media. From the campy Adam West television series to the dark realism of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight” comic run, Batman has found his footing on TV and film and in comics, novels, and games.
This evolution is exemplified by the Batman symbol, the iconic bat featured prominently on his armor and on the covers of the comics. It’s changed with the times, as well. To track the morphing signal, we relied on Calm the Ham’s Batman poster, Rodrigo Rogas’ animated version of the changes, and illustrations from DeviantArt user JMK-Prime for guidance.
Below is the incredible 75-year evolution of the Batman symbol:
1940: The original Batman logo resembled a man in a cape. It’s a bit bulky, but fit the time period where he was wearing a costume instead of high-tech armor.
1965: The updated logo from the ’60s comic run resembles a bat in flight as opposed to a costumed man.
1966: The symbol from the live-action Adam West show is best known for zooming in and out over a spinning background during transitions.
1973: This one, from the ’73 comic run, is a step backward, as it returned to the man-in-costume-style logo. Also, notice the long ears.
1977: From the “New Adventures of Batman,” the first Batman in animation. This is an update of the 1966 symbol, likely because the TV show brought in a new era of fans familiar with how the logo appeared onscreen.
1983: This symbol is from comic series “Batman and the Outsiders.” This offers a solid bottom to the logo, instead of the spaces normally used to indicate the cape. It’s a bit blocky, but more imposing.
1986: From “Legends of the Dark Knight.” Frank Miller’s take on the Batman series featured a retirement-age Batman reflecting on his long career. The stark take on Batman is considered one of the greatest.
1989: The redesign for Tim Burton’s take on Batman. The bottom edges are overdone, though the sharp curve of the wings is very cool.
1989: As seen in “Legends of the Dark Knight,” this uses sharp points at the bottom instead of the curved spaces. That, plus the rectangular wings, makes for a less bat-like silhouette.
1992: This probably looks the most familiar. This particular design, introduced in “Batman Returns,” is well-balanced and reappeared a lot during the ’90s animated spin-offs.
1993: From the “Knightfall” comic series, this logo stands out from the rest because of the radically curved wings. In “Knightfall,” Wayne is succeeded as Batman by Azrael.
1995: Very similar to the 1992 design, this is the symbol from Val Kilmer’s much-maligned “Batman Forever” movie. It’s balanced and minimalist, but guilty by association with the unpopular film.
1995: 22 years later, the man-in-a-costume logo returns in the “Batman Chronicles” comic. It’s less obvious here, but missing the style of the other ’90s logos.
1997: The “Batman & Robin” movie gave Batman’s sidekick a prominent place in the logo. It’s a bit overdone, but was probably a huge treat for Robin fans.
1998: A straightforward version of the previous logo, this is from the latter “The Batman Chronicles” comic series. The wings are less prominent, but it at least clearly resembles a bat.
1999: Way, way too bulky here. The wings don’t curve, making this look flat and rectangular.
1999: Perfection. The “Batman Beyond” symbol is sleek, simple, and distinct from every other design because it’s so angular, making it seem very serious.
2001: This logo from video game “Batman: Vengeance” isn’t too imaginative. It’s possible the designers wanted something classic after the radical, futuristic “Batman Beyond” redesign.
2003: Comic series “Batman: Gotham Knight” shows off another classic design. It is simple and recognizable and looks like a bat.
2003: The wings for the “Gotham Knight” design have a very cool shape. It almost looks like a slightly modified version of the 1992 design.
2004: A throwback to the 1995 design, and also somewhat reminiscent of the 1989 design as well. The curved edges at the bottom are a bit overdone, making it much less intimidating.
2005: From “Batman Begins,” the first of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. It’s a modern classic — simple, sharp, and one of the best known of all time.
2007: From the “Superman and Batman vs. Alien and Predator” comic, this design haphazardly combines the Predator and Batman logos. It makes for an odd and bulky combination, just like the overly wordy title.
2008: A throwback to the original 1940 design, this is a noble update but still somewhat bulky, and will probably seem odd for anyone not familiar with the first design. It was for “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” a cartoon with a throwback feel.
2008: “The Dark Knight” version of the symbol is largely unchanged from the original.
2009: From the “Batman and Robin” comic series, this is wider with sharper wings. It’s a much simpler design that the other “Batman & Robin” logo, which overlaid two symbols.
2009: From the “Battle of the Cowl” comic series, this is poor design. The wings are too small while the spaces at the bottom are huge. The head and ears of the bat are too curved, making the whole thing look off.
2016: The “Batman v Superman” logo. It’s larger to accommodate for Superman’s “S” symbol, but makes for a very clunky silhouette.
Here’s another look at it.
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