Batman’s story in the DCEU might effectively be intended if somebody took a look at the development of the Batcave. Fans are fond of the hauntingly mysterious, broody Batcave of The Dark Knight trilogy, mostly like living in the middle of the Forbidden Forest with a dark lake, a vast waterfall, and very little planning or even urban planning.
But Ben Affleck’s Batman made way for a rather unusual, almost futuristic set-up with the Batcave in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was sleek, well planned, well-executed with geometrical symmetry. There were many hidden clues and detailing in the Batcave, which are indicative of Batman’s trajectory.
Bill Finger, the original co-creator of Batman, had talked about secret underground hangars in the first serialized comic outing of Batman in 1942. The first series had a strong political undertone since it was set around tumultuous times, right in the middle of the second world war. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson (Robin) were introduced as secret service agents in the 1943 version of the movie serial, where the ‘Bat’s Cave’ was shown to be equipped with a functional crime lab.
The Batcave in Batman V Superman essentially retains the stripped-down, military vibe of an unusual hangar and is built like an open and structured floor area meant to store heavyweight automobiles or weaponry.
In Dawn of Justice, the Batcave is not located below Wayne Manor and is situated a little farther away from the house in a wooded area. So, Bruce discovers the cave when he has his traumatic fall as a child, and when Wayne Manor is destroyed in a fire, Bruce and Alfred move to a polished, urban and modernist glass building that they built right above the cave.
The cave was meant to act as his workshop, garage, lab, and headquarters, and this was quite a detour from the canon as the cave was historically always part of the Wayne manor.
Acclaimed production designer Patrick Tatopoulos revealed that though he wanted to retain the sense of legacy with the Batcave, he never envisioned it as something grand. Tatopoulos told that he tried to make it evident that the cave existed first, and Batman’s home was trying to fit around the cave.
The Batcave in Batman V Superman had minimal apparatus placed on the floor; in fact, everything except a few chairs and necessary lab equipment like trolleys was suspended. Even the central computer usage and Batman’s half-finished armour were hung up to de-clutter the floor area. The design team had to be very vigilant about watching the space because the lab area, especially, had too much equipment, but the Batcave should never look clumsy or claustrophobic.
Fans have noted how each Batcave differed according to each Batman’s aesthetic, while Christian Bale’s vigilante loved being ostentatious and loved glossy black surfaces, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is a minimalist and has a characteristic worldliness about him.
Tatopoulos had revealed that during the release of Dawn of Justice, he wanted to add a sense of brutalism to the Batcave’s architecture, to establish it as robust, sturdy and non-flashy. Bare material surfaces and blocky structures often define the brutalist architecture, and the Batcave fits the bill to the T, as it exudes a sense of matured essentialism.
Over the years, the Batcave waterfall has been repurposed to add to the importance of the structure. In Batman Begins, the waterfall is very much inside the Batcave and runs into a lake. In Dawn of Justice, the waterfall is used to hide the location of the Batcave, so the Batmobile is shown going into a slant surface right along the sides of the waterfall.
The Batcave is also a memorial to some of the heroes Gotham has lost and is thus it’s fitting that Jason’s clothes would find a place there, with the words “Hahaha Joke’s on you Batman,’ spray-painted on them. This book goes back to the A Death in the Family story arc, which featured Joker ruthlessly beating Jason and leaving him to die.
Though Dawn of Justice’s Batcave clung to a minimalist, essentialist set-up, it still had more city planning and development than any of the other Batman films in DCEU. In The Dark Knight trilogy, the Batcave was mainly just a hauntingly elevated workstation next to a waterfall, which would not sit well with today’s audiences.
The new Batcave wanted to be a lot more design-rich and well-thought-out because Bruce Wayne planned it in his mid-40s. It might hardly feature the full, moody records which Bale’s Batman used in his Batcave, which was again conceived not as a workspace but as a shelter and also a garage for the Batmobile.