The Batsignal (or Bat-Signal) is a distress signal device appearing in the Batman mythos’ various interpretations. The evolution of the BatSignal will help you understand where it came from and why it’s needed.
It is a specially modified Klieg searchlight with a stylized symbol of a bat attached to the light so that it projects a large Bat emblem on the sky or buildings of Gotham City.
“The signal goes on and he shows up. That’s the way it’s been, that’s the way it will be.“―James Gordon
The signal is used by the Gotham City Police Department as a method of contacting and summoning Batman in the event his help is needed, but also as a weapon of psychological intimidation to the numerous criminals of Gotham City.
Batman wants the police department to use it often even if he does not show up. The first reason is in hopes that he is busy already fighting crime. But no bad guy wants to run into Batman. Seeing the Batsignal in the sky makes people abort their crimes.
Origins and to Begin The Evolution of The Bat Signal:
The Bat-Signal first appeared in Detective Comics #60 (February 1942). The signal has several different origins in comics featuring post-crisis continuity. It’s introduced as a new tool after Batman’s first encounter with the Joker in the 2005 series and the 1990 “Prey” storyline in Legends of the Dark Knight.
Batman gives the Gotham police force signal, enabling them to call him when the city was in danger. In 2005’s Batman Begins, then-lieutenant James Gordon installs the BatSignal on the police department’s roof. Although at the end of the movie, it can be seen that the commissioner himself destroys the Bat-signal.
In Batman and the Mad Monk, Gordon initially used a pager, but during a meeting with Batman he threw it away, saying that he couldn’t sneak around in the shadows like Batman and wanted a more above-board means of contacting him.
In the last installment of the Nola Era, the BatSignal makes its long-awaited return when Batman rescues Gordan and Blake. This was his way of telling the people of Gotham that he’s back.
The Bat-Signal played a very important role on Batman’s crime-fighting career and soon it became a tool besides a summoning beacon.
During it’s early days, some criminals shot the Bat-Signal and others stole it to prevent communication between Gordon and Batman. For this reason, Batman designed a new Bat-Signal with the following features:
The New Bat-Signal:
- Super Carbon Arc Filaments to produce a beam 100 times brighter than a normal searchlight
- Bullet-proof glass; hand-ground for clarity
- The outer casing of our aluminum covered with bullet-proof glass
- Yellow fog filter
- Larger, changeable, and more powerful carriage
Sometime later, an elderly police officer, who was no longer capable of going out on missions to the streets, was placed in charge of activating the BatSignal.
For this purpose, a small light bulb and a phone connected to Commissioner Gordon’s office were installed in order to notify Sargant Harvey Hainer of the times when he had to activate the signal.
Gordon Breaks the Bat-Signal
Eventually, the Bat-Signal was broken by Sarah Essen during an outburst of rage, after which she shot the signal. Whenever it was lit, the shape of the bat appeared to be broken. It was soon repaired and fully operational.
However, the Bat-Signal would soon be broken again, this time by James Gordon. After Jean Paul-Valley took the mantle of the Bat, Gordon became suspicious of the Batman’s identity. His worries proved true when Batman let Abattoir die, causing the death of the killer’s last victim.
Gordon’s trust in Batman was totally damaged, and after an unsuccessful discussion with the new Batman, Gordon smashed the signal with his gun, breaking it as a symbol of his disconnection from the vigilante.
When word about Batman’s death spread, a BatSignal was turned on with the letters “R.I.P.” engraved in it. Gordon followed the source of this signal to Arkham Asylum.
There he found a makeshift signal left behind after the whole place was destroyed after learning of a new Batman, whose methods included murder and torture. Gordon decided to keep the signal off until it was safe to use it again.
The Evolution of The BatSignal in Movies
The BatSignal did not change much in the movies. The shape of the Batman logo would change as the logo did. As time progressed the Batlogo became sleeker. It was first introduced in the 1989 Batman movie but not until the very end. Batman had left it with the police force as a gift.
Then in Batman Returns the signal was used to start the movie off and call Batman to do work. The BatSignal continues to make appearances in each Batman movie.
In Batman Begins, the first-ever BatSignal was made using a crime boss. Batman tied him to a light with his arms spread. It hinted at the BatSignal that was to come in the future.
Conclusion of The Evolution of The BatSignal:
That’s the funny thing about the signal,” Gordon reflects in a text-box.
“People think it’s an alarm, a warning that danger is coming, a call for help. ‘It’s to make them know we’ll make it to morning, even if we make our own d*** light.’ He can be quite the pointy-eared poet at times.“
One of the best things about the evolution of the BatSignal is how it never needed to change much. It did not need to become high tech or anything crazy. Batman kept it simple and he is one of the few superheroes to have a way of being reached.
With most superheroes, you have to just hope that they show up at the right time. Batman does not have superpowers to do that. He needs to work with other humans to make sure he is where he needs to be the most.