It’s tough to imagine the moviegoing public having an adverse reaction to seeing nipples on a Batman suit in the year 2022—the culture is more outwardly horny than it once was, and honestly, it sounds like a great marketing technique. But back in 1997, the rubber nipples prominently embellishing George Clooney’s Batsuit in Joel Schumacher’s much-maligned Batman & Robin sequel were the proverbial cherries on top of audience’s general disdain for everything about the blockbuster.
But, as things tend to go in Hollywood, Schumacher’s campy costuming has since earned a semi-ironic place in the hearts (located just below the pecs) of many Batman fans. Luckily for them—or for you!—the Texas-based auction house Heritage Auctions is offering up Clooney’s original Batman costume (crafted by the franchise’s lead sculptor Jose Fernandez under Schumacher’s direction), giving serious connoisseurs a chance to own one of the most anatomically surreal superhero costumes of all time. That is, if they’ve got upwards of $40,000 on hand, which is where the bidding currently stands.
“This is easily the most famous—and infamous—Batman costume ever designed, as evidenced by the fact that all these years later, it continues to make headlines every time Tim Burton and George Clooney get asked about it,” Heritage Auctions’s executive vice president Joe Maddalena said in a statement, per Variety. “But to his credit, Joel Schumacher never apologized for the ‘Bat-nipples.’ In fact, he once told Vice, ‘I’m still glad we did it.’ And I am just as glad we have the chance now to offer this piece of cinema history to someone who can appreciate the costume as much as Schumacher clearly did.”
Schumacher, who died in 2020, also elaborated on his unapologetic pride to GQ in 2017, and why he, particularly as a gay filmmaker, was surprised the nipple suit got the reaction it did. “So many talented people were working with rubber that we got the gift of having the suit being very slim and very body conscious. The suits became sexier,” the late director said. “I never thought… I didn’t even know if people would notice. I was like, ‘Oh my god.’” (And since then, Batman’s suits have continued to be sexy, even if in a more brooding sort of way.)
“I think because I am gay, people read into things,” he continued. “For instance, when I did Tigerland [his 2000 movie about Vietnam-era Army recruits at training camp], because you have a lot of guys running around in their underwear, of course it’s called homoerotic. It seems to feel a little cockeyed. I made so many macho films. It was just fun.”
And in the spirit of fun, it’s exciting to imagine which high-profile Batman fan might put down some cash for the Bat-nipple suit. For what it’s worth, our money’s on Pete Davidson.