In his 80 years defending Gotham City from the criminal underworld, Batman has appeared in many incarnations. Beginning with his more jovial persona in the '40s comics, and continuing with his more humorous version in the '60s television series starring Adam West, it wasn't until the '80s that Batman took a turn for the dark and gritty. Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns created the modern Batman orphan mythos we most closely associate with the Caped Crusader, and Tim Burton's 1989 film Batman brought it to blockbuster life.
From the '90s into the '00s, Batman became a figure of pop culture zeitgeist the likes of which was unprecedented in the superhero genre with happy meal tie-ins and exploding merchandise sales. It wasn't until Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy that Batman seemed to mature again, fitting into the real world as a superhero that could almost exist. Whatever version of Batman you love, these 10 tattoos are for you, the true fans.
10 MICHAEL KEATON BATMAN PORTRAIT
For some fans, there's only one Batman; Michael Keaton. Whether it's because you're a fan of his unique take on the Caped Crusader, or you liked the visual styling of the Tim Burton film series he starred in the beginning in 1989, as the first actor to embody the Dark Knight on the big screen, his performance will always be iconic.
This stunning portrait tattoo of Keaton's face beneath the cape and cowl perfectly captures the essence of his mark on the role. The steely gaze and pursed lips, combined with the textured rubber suit are brought to life in photo-realistic detail by Nikko Hurtado, a must for die-hard fans of Keaton's Batman.
9 FUNKO POP BATMAN TATTOO
Over the years, the likeness of Batman has come in all shapes and sizes. From life-size statues to action figures, to LEGO figurines, the Dark Knight has been a defender of justice ready and willing to take on the criminal underworld no matter his stature.
Funko Pop, the popular toy company that has represented many pop culture icons with its adorable figures, has created a wide assortment of Batman figures over the years. From the classic blue and yellow Batman from the Adam West television series, to the one depicted here in this fun shoulder tattoo.
8 FULL COLOR BATMAN COMIC SLEEVE TATTOO
Only serious Batman fans need apply for this sleeve tattoo, created with a beautiful use of colors that really Pop! by British tattoo artist Ian Hopkins. Alongside Batman is his sometimes love-interest, sometimes nemesis Catwoman as well as his ultimate foe, The Joker.
This gorgeous tattoo, highlighting famous panels from Batman's early days, took Hopkins a staggering 40 hours to finish. It was worth it though because he ended up proving victorious at the Titanic Ink Tattoo Convention in 2012 and walking away with the Best Large Color Award. Batman would be pleased.
7 LEGO BATMAN TATTOO
A standout character in The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, LEGO Batman usurped the franchise with his brooding and hilarious portrayal by acclaimed voice actor Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman). LEGO Batman not only broods, but he also does so while playing heavy metal on his electric guitar and wallowing in his bat-cave eating lobster tails.
This tattoo (courtesy of @prhymesuspect) depicts LEGO Batman in action, swooping out of the night sky to defeat evil snake clowns wherever they may lurk. When he's not saving the city (again), he's dealing with his annoying partner Robin insisting on making the Bat Family a thing.
6 BATMAN BAT SYMBOL CHEST TATTOO
A Batman fan has to be completely committed to the Caped Crusader to want to get this chest piece done. Its incredible realism makes it actually look like the skin is being ripped away to reveal the armored Batsuit underneath, patterned after the costume Christian Bale wore in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.
True Batman fans know that over the years, Bruce Wayne has become the mask, and The Batman the real individual beneath it. Bruce Wayne is a persona that Batman affects. How do we know this? Because when Wonder Woman bound Batman with the lasso of truth in Wonder Woman Annual #1 and asked him to reveal his true identity, he simply said, "Batman".
5 CHRISTIAN BALE BATMAN PORTRAIT TATTOO
For some Batman fans, the best Batman will always be Christian Bale's turn in The Dark Knight Trilogy by lauded director Christopher Nolan. The films have been praised for their winning blend of drama, action, and realism. They are heralded as superhero films that raised the genre.
This beautiful piece by A D Pancho makes dramatic use of color across a wide variant. It graduates in pigmentation from red, orange, and yellow to black and blue like day turning into night. Bale's stern expression indicates the intense solemnity he brought to the iconic role.
4 BATMAN VERSUS JOKER VERSUS HARLEY QUINN
This amazing arm tattoo depicts one of the greatest rivalries in comic book history; Batman versus The Joker. In the action-packed scenario playing out from the shoulder to the forearm, we see the Caped Crusader choking the life out of the Clown Prince of Crime, who doesn't seem the least bit concerned.
Perhaps that's because coming to his aid is Harley Quinn, his sidekick, partner in crime, and love interest who made her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series and has been incorporated into many of Batman and The Joker's comic book series.
3 ADAM WEST PORTRAIT TATTOO
Adam West's portrayal of Batman defined a generation of Batman fans. Other than the odd black and white film featuring a star no one had ever heard of back in the early '40s, Batman had never been brought to life in living color before, with his sidekick Robin ready to defeat Gotham's criminal underworld.
While some fans of edgier Batman incarnations may find West's performance campy and immature, he brought a certain charisma and humor to the role that can't be denied. This photo-realistic portrait tattoo by Ben Kaye of Adam West as Batman looks like it could be a TV still!
2 BATMAN JOKER PLAYING CARD TATTOO
This creative arm tattoo showcases the duality of Batman and his arch-nemesis, The Joker in a playing card motif that resembles something The Clown Prince would carry. The Batman embodies order and justice, while The Joker embodies disorder and anarchy.
The whimsical quality of this piece, posted by Redditor MikeyB1024, plays perfectly into the nature of Batman comics as well as certain versions of these characters in film. Batman is forever the Knight, and Joker is forever the jester, and like a game of cards, they will always be played against each other.
1 BATMAN AND HIS ENEMIES TATTOO
For Batman fans, especially fans of Batman: The Animated Series, this tattoo is a great tribute to the many foes in the Dark Knight's Rogue Gallery. Perfectly captured within the wings of the bat symbol, the symbols of their villainy are displayed like The Batman's trophies.
There's Poison Ivy's vines, the Mad Hatter's hat, The Joker's calling card, Mr. Freeze's frozen wife under glass, and even the Riddler's cane alongside Two-Face's silver liberty piece. As iconic as Batman will always be, without the enemies he faces, he'd just be "a freak in a mask".