Batman Doesn't Wear a Coat

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Batman wears a cape, and a cowl. Famously, he wears a belt. But generally, while he’s out and about on his superhero business, Batman does not wear a coat. Until now: In the latest trailer for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the upcoming mega-blockbuster that pits the titular heroes against each other, Batman (Ben Affleck) is chained up in a desert prison and unmasked by a furious-looking Superman (Henry Cavil). That’s all very dramatic, but by far the most notable detail is that Batman is wearing a sensible-looking trench coat.

I have so many questions.

The first is practical: How would Batman get a coat over those spikey arm-guards he wears? On closer inspection, it seems that the Caped Crusader has donned those gauntlets after putting on his coat, showing the kind of intelligence that befits the world’s greatest detective. But why wear a coat? Its vintage look and duster length suggests a noir gumshoe, prowling the rainy streets of Gotham at night, but Batman is very clearly in the desert here, which isn’t really a coat-wearer’s paradise.

A closer look at Batman’s coat-centric costume suggests that director Zack Snyder was maybe looking to give his hero a real-world spin, replacing his cape with a jacket to make him look less cartoony. Zack: it’s Batman. He’s fighting Superman. He doesn’t need to look like a paramilitary Humphrey Bogart enthusiast.  In fact, he looks almost hilariously unheroic—it’s the bat ears on his head that stick out, rather than the rest of his costume. That all said—a Bat-coat probably makes more sense than George Clooney’s famous 1997 Bat-nipples.