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This question concerns the post-crisis/New52 incarnation of the character.

Batman as a hero tries to hide in the shadows as much as possible (at least in the beginning, before becoming a more public figure) and reduce the amount of harm that will be done to him.

As such, he dresses mostly in black, or grey which can be hidden with the black of his cape. At one point, when sporting the yellow chest symbol, it was rationalized that this helps draw fire to the most reinforced part of his suit. But what about his utility belt?

The groing/stomach area is a dangerous area to target, and no rationalization was given for this. Indeed, many alternate costume do have the belt being black (such as the upcoming BvS movie) or a dark bronze instead of bright yellow (Arkham city) both of which make a lot more sense.

I understand that practically, in the real world it is a stylistic design choice, but I'm wondering if there is any in-universe explanation or rationalization, as it seems a very odd choice for the character to choose yellow instead of black or grey when his goal is to be stealthy.

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    Because when the comics were originally drawn, there were only a very limited number of solid colours that could be used next to black and grey without bleeding. – Valorum Dec 12 '14 at 16:39
  • @Richard, I acknowledge that it is a stylistic choice in the question, and am looking for an in-universe explanation or rationalization. – Sonny Ordell Dec 12 '14 at 16:42
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    Ahh, I'm sorry Lexible - I wasn't aware that yellow and black indicated waterproofing, although in retrospect I should have picked up on that. Still, disagree the humour is lost, as I get it now after your explanation, cheers :) – Sonny Ordell Dec 12 '14 at 21:08
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    I think the reason is because, visually, it works. It's not necessarily practical as yellow doesn't exactly help with being stealthy as it would stand out against the dark grays and blacks, especially if a light were to pass over Batman as he's hiding. The artists probably kept the yellow because, to the average person, visually it's actually appealing. In all honesty though, they'd be better off making it a deep maroon/red due to the fact that that color would actually be more practical, but again, it'd be less appealing visually. – Robert Dec 15 '14 at 13:22
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    I don't know if it's canon or not, but I've heard that when the symbol on his chest had a yellow background it was to draw attention to a place that was most armored. So if someone were to shoot him, they'd shoot him there instead of his face. Maybe the same reasoning could apply to his belt? Draw the shooter's attention downwards? – Matt S. Dec 15 '14 at 17:42
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There's isn't a rational in-universe explanation why his utility belt is yellow. It hasn't always been historically, but realistically, he can use a yellow belt because most of the time, you can't see it unless he wants you to.

enter image description here

In his favorite crouched pose, you cannot see it. With his cape tucked around him, you cannot see it. If he is hiding in shadows, you cannot see it. So it's color is one, in universe, that has no particular bearing on his costume.

Production Limitations

Copyright and design requirements

  • The yellow belt has always been a design element in what is considered the original and classic look of Batman. No particular reason exists for it other than it was stylistically depicted as an offset color. In Batman's first colorized appearance, the belt is a yellow metallic-looking color.

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  • But it wasn't a consistent design element. Colorists often got it wrong or depicted it in colors other than yellow. Batman's coloration varied wildly in the early days, either due to less organized editorial control, or poor technology being used in the production.

    enter image description here

  • Batman's origin strode the line between good and evil, so his colors were mostly dark blues and black. As he grew lighter and more fun (during the late 50s and early 60's) he became brighter adding yellows and moving toward grey in his primary costume. He returned to darker colors denoting a darker tone as well after his back was broken by Bane and the movies associated with that darker tone. With the reboot of the DC Universe, he has been taken back to a more classic appearance. See: What is Hawkeye's association with the colour purple?

  • In some early depictions of the belt, it appeared to be made out of canvas like old military gun belts using pouches to hold his utility equipment. Indeed, there was even a time when Batman used guns. (Yes, it is shocking given his current dislike of firearms but once upon a time Batman was packing heat!)

enter image description here

  • Making his utility belt look like a gun pouch wasn't that much of a stretch. This look is very popular when modern artists depict early retellings of Batman's origin and want to make his belt resemble gunbelts because the gunbelt makes for a good-looking, reasonable explanation for how Batman ended up using a utility belt and what he might have used until he could create his own signature design. This belt design is very popular with Elseworlds artists.

Ultimately

  • The easiest explanation for his strangely colored belt was once upon a time he didn't custom make his equipment, he had to cobble his gear together.

  • Once he was custom designing it, he had been using what he had for so long, it probably didn't make a lot of sense to change it. The color hadn't hindered him, indeed, it had made him better at hiding it.

  • The utility belt made a great distraction, too. Villains were always stealing it assuming Batman kept all of his gear there, which invariable wasn't true and would lead to his escaping due to their underestimation of his skills. Keeping it bright and shiny drew attention to it.

Out of Universe

  • The safety yellow of the Batman utility belt made sure it was a popular toy with parents and easy to distinguish from anything else from a safety standard. DC likely considered it an easy enough concession to make to keep toys on the shelves.

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Realistically speaking...

  • There is no rational answer for why Batman's belt is yellow over a deep bronze over black. When the character changes mediums, the color of the belt changes to make it more realistic. Hence the bronze in the Arkaham games and Nolan movies.

  • The comic universe is a perverse one. It has to look like our own, without actually BEING ours. Things which make perfect sense in our universe don't apply in the comic one and vice versa. There isn't a need for Batman to wear a black belt to hide his equipment in the comic universe, we are supposed to suspend our belief and say it does not affect what he does or how he does it.

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    That first picture is from the Arkham video games, right? In those games his belt isn't the bright yellow it is in the comics, but a muted bronze. I agree he could hide the belt a lot of the time by crouching or with his cape...but it would also be visible a lot of the time. My point is, when designing his costume, why would he choose a color that draws more attention to himself, even if only some of the time? He didn't have to cobble his costume together post-crisis either, so I'm not sure that explanation applies. – Sonny Ordell Dec 12 '14 at 18:13
  • If there were a comic-universe explanation, I would know it. – Thaddeus Howze Dec 12 '14 at 18:31
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    What makes you so confident? – Sonny Ordell Dec 12 '14 at 18:35
  • Look around the site. Comic book answers are my specialty. I trust my 40 years of in-depth comic reading and highly tune analytical skills to answer most questions about comic universes, effectively. I have a long history with the medium and being a collector and an enthusiast, a level of familiarity not held by most. I could be wrong about things, and in answering questions here, I have learned a quite a few things, but I am confident of my answers, otherwise I wouldn't post them. – Thaddeus Howze Dec 12 '14 at 18:40
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Originally, Batman wasn't really hiding in the shadows, he wore blue black grey and a yellow belt. Only after did he take on a darker persona along with the rest of the DC heroes hence him being the "dark knight" and the appearance change. That's my take on it.

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    He didn't actually wear blue, that was meant to represent highlights in the black. I should clarify my answer to refer to the post-crisis incarnation however. – Sonny Ordell Dec 12 '14 at 16:35
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It's a psychological trick to keep him on his toes, make he has all his bases covered because he knows that he has this brightly colored belt that makes him a target. He has to bring his A-game or this belt will get him killed. Same thing with Robin's brightly colored costume. Bruce is always thinking, "Have I covered all the bases? Because I have a teenager with me in a red, green, and yellow costume. If I've missed something, he's toast.

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