With The Batman wowing audiences in cinemas around the world, here’s a look at how the Batman minifigure has evolved since the first one was released 16 years ago.
The Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight. The World’s Greatest Detective. Batman goes by many names an iterations. Since his debut in the 1939 Detective Comics, Batman has changed in style, appearance and portrayal. He’s gone through a range of different cowls and capes, and doesn’t always work in black or very, very, very dark grey. In fact, there have been an astronomical 92 different Batman minifigures, which is the most dedicated to any one character.
And the Bat certainly deserves it, having celebrated 80 years of protecting Gotham in 2019. The latest movie, The Batman, is now in cinemas and is bringing in audiences to see Matt Reeves’ take on the story. So, what was the first Batman minifigure? How has the minifigure changed? And what’s the wackiest Bat made by the LEGO designers?
The first version of Batman appeared in 2005 and is the typical sort of image when anyone pictures the character. He’s got some printed muscle detailing on the torso of his suit, along with the iconic logo and utility belt in yellow. A unique element had been moulded for Batman’s cowl and it represented the character perfectly. The cowl is also probably the element that’s changed most throughout the years, both in colour and size of the bat ears.
The following year Batman switched to a grey suit inspired by Batman: The Animated Series. However, this minifigure wasn’t particularly accurate as he still wore a black cape, whilst the animated version had a dark blue one. Thankfully this was remedied in the much more detailed 2007 version, which then introduced buckles and buttons printed onto Batman’s belt.
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Things stayed relatively stable between these two iterations up until 2012, when Batman became part of the LEGO Super Heroes theme. Suddenly the Dark Knight had an updated cowl mould, which placed more expression into his eyebrows (or where they would be) and tweaked the angular shape of the ears. There was also an exclusive in 6858 Catwoman Catcycle City Chase, in which Batman donned a winged jetpack known as the Jet-Wing.
From 2012 onwards Batman got bolder and travelled to new locations, such as Arctic Batman from 7600 Arctic Batman vs. Mr Freeze: Aquaman On Ice (yes, most Batman sets have ludicrously long names). In 2015 the Caped Crusader went to space, tying in to the LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game, in which Braniac had an evil plan to shrink the Earth and only the Justice League could stop the supervillain. Batman’s cowl was also changed in 2015, giving his eyes an angrier tilt and shortening the ears. Before that it was possible to call the Dark Knight almost friendly looking, but 2015 made scowling the standard expression.
Unless The LEGO Batman Movie in 2017 – then it was a dazzling white smile and even crazier outfits. The two Collectible Minifigures ranges to coincide with the film were about as ludicrous as Batman could get – Easter Bunny Batman, Tiger Tuxedo Batman, possibly weirdest of them all was Mermaid Batman made light of the action figures that had always stretched the concept of Batman. These fun minifigures were a pleasant change from the standard Batman at the time.
In the sets around 2017, Batman was inspired by Ben Affleck’s portrayal, which is one of the grittiest depictions of the characteron screen, although that change meant Batman finally got a proper fabric cape.
The best cape award though goes to 76139 1989 Batmobile, which perfectly captured Batman’s very formfitting armour in the Tim Burton movie thanks to a cape-meets-cowl element that paid homage to the fact that Michael Keaton’s take on the character couldn’t turn his head.
A new minifigure is bringing Batman up to the present day and his crime-noir portrayal in The Batman. This minifigure has had a completely redesigned suit in grey with pearl-grey printed accents, dual-moulded legs, and is one of the few versions that comes with an alternate hair piece and head for when the caped crusader isn’t having to save Gotham.