The Gothic Imagery of Batman

The Goth-Father of Comics.

The character of Batman is a dark and brooding presence. He does not wear the cheery attire of Superman and lacks the light-hearted sarcasm of Spiderman. He is a far more complex character.

Out of all of the original superheroes of yesteryear only Batman has all of the right imagery, atmosphere, characters and settings to be deemed as true Goth. There were a few elements attached to some of the other crime fighters that had a Gothic slant; ‘Ghost Rider’, ‘The Phantom’ and even Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit’ had certain attributes but Batman is the closest to being truly ‘Gothic’.

Where There Are Bats There is Goth.

In July 1982, Soho, London the first Gothic nightclub opened its doors to a darkly attired and Patchouli anointed youth. Regular visitors to the club included such people as Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Robert Smith and Nick Cave. The club was called ‘The Batcave’.

Okay, so it wasn’t just Batman who helped to influence all of this. Think Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Vampira and even Yvonne de Carlo from ‘The Munsters’. But isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that the nightclub was named after Batman’s actual hang-out? (So to speak…)

A Dark and Mysterious Wonderland.

Then there is the city that is such an integral backdrop of most of the Batman stories; – ‘Gotham’.

As the name suggests, it is a dark place that is full of shadowy alleyways and sinister, maniacal foes.

A place where the manholes steam and the ‘Dark Knight’ patrols silently, hesitating only amongst the shadows and fog.

Batman’s costume is pure Goth. It has subtly changed over the years to become even more so. The bat-like cape and the mask with pointed ears could quite easily have been adopted by the frontman of a Gothic band without any problem from fans. Even the Bat-symbol can quite often be seen emblazoned on black t-shirts worn by even the most die-hard Goths.

Batman a-La Goth Hits the Mainstream.

In 1989 Tim Burton (a director with blatant Gothic influences previously visible in such films as ‘Beetlejuice’) released his movie version of ‘Batman’. This was the darkest addition to the Batman franchise to date and it went down a storm. In 1992 he released ‘Batman Returns’ which took the Gothic feel several steps further. The main score to the movie was even performed by Gothic legends ‘Siouxsie and the Banshees’. Between the two Batman films he also created the masterpiece ‘Edward Scissorhands’ with a very Gothic Johnny Depp as the protagonist.

Since then the Batman industry has continued to wallow in its darkness with several other Gothic-styled additions to the string of movies. The latest release, ‘The Dark Knight’, caused quite a stir with its dark and brooding atmosphere. ‘Is this movie for kids or for adults?’ asked the media.

So, long before Neil Gaiman’s ‘Death’ there was already a Gothic hero. And before ‘Donnie Darko’ and the like the world of film had already worn the t-shirt… and on it was a symbol.