We are nearing the end of the first season of Gotham Knights and with it, a series that has seemed like a love letter to the Batman universe is coming to a close. But before the end arrives, we had the chance to speak to the Costume Designer behind the series, Jennifer May Nickel.
While chatting with Nickel, we spoke about her inspiration when it came to putting together the looks for our characters, how different aspects of the costumes represent the characters and the way they grow or change over the course of the season, and of course the love of DC Comics.
And I have to say that chatting with Jennifer May Nickel was a true pleasure because it didn’t feel like an interview, so much as a chance to talk with a friend about a common interest. From learning that Michael Keaton is her Batman (he is ours too) to talking about the appreciation for the comics that inspired the series and storylines, it was an epic chat that proved that Gotham Knights has an amazing team bringing these characters to life.
Jennifer May Nickel talks about her work on the Gotham Knights series
After talking about our favorite Batman (Keaton forever!) and the comics that helped inspire the series and looks, Nickel went into detail for us about her inspiration behind the costumes and how she made them stand out on our screens.
"A lot of it is getting right to the core of the character and also the core of what they needed to be doing. So like Harper, at heart she’s an engineer and a mechanic and we really tried to bring out her resourcefulness. The costume, everything she’s wearing, has an ease of movement to it, while also there’s a whole lot of pockets so she can have all of her little gadgets and tools and everything ready at hand. And the same actually goes for Robin, because while Bruce has taken Robin and Carrie Kelley under his wing, he obviously died before he was able to help her reach her full potential so now she’s kind of on her own, making her own superhero suit and a lot of that is reflected in it. You know, it’s not like, this billion dollar suit that was custom made with Lucius Fox all over it. It is a very intelligent, but scrappy young teen bringing together some of the things that Bruce gave her but then engineering her own things. And through the season, you’ll actually see where Harper engineers a thing or two for her which is really exciting. And so we kind of grounded the characters in this way.Like what is their resourcefulness while they’re on the run and fugitives? What are they using and manipulating that surrounds them to one help keep them safe, but also fight crime at the same time? And you know, what technology are they able to use? So a lot of that we bring into the costumes especially with Harper."
Another aspect of the series that is important to note is the fact that this is our chance to see Misha Collins portray Harvey Dent. And during this season, we get to see the transformation of Dent into the villain known as Two-Face. Because of that, there are little clues that are actually showcased via the costume design. Specifically, it is all in the ties!
We asked Jennifer May Nickel a bit more about the Harvey Dent ties, to which she explained,
"the inspiration and the purpose behind it all is one way of showing through the clothing that there is a shift in personality happening that as much as it’s happening for Harvey, a lot of it’s subconscious and he doesn’t even realize it’s happening. And so in my mind to keep it real and grounded and not cartoonish, it’s a you know, he’s getting ready in front of the mirror and as he’s putting his tie on and starting to do it up, he goes off in his mind. As part of the shifts, he is unintentionally, subconsciously, doing his tie more and more complicated as the season goes through and as more of the Two Face character starts to take over. And so it’s that he hasn’t been doing it on purpose, consciously, but it’s there underneath and then boiling to the surface. And different tie knots have different meanings and there is significance to why he tied it certain ways."
Of course, it was not just the ties that are used to showcase the changes in Harvey. And Nickel spoke about how she and Collins worked together to showcase the subtle shifts in personality via the costumes.
"We, Misha and I, together worked really well and also very hard on making sure that we got Harvey into the Too Face way in a way that again, is grounded, not cartoony. It’s not silly, it’s realistic. And you can see this man’s unraveling as you go throughout the season and you see it in the clothes in subtle ways because he is still the DA. He is still going to be running for mayor. There’s a whole lot to it. We wanted to keep him sleek and put together because that is Harvey, but then you just start to see the subtle unraveling. And there’s a whole lot of subtext in all of his accessories, like you’ve got different cufflinks for him that have different significance. Even his socks, down to his socks, if you even notice them, but it was something that Misha and I did is that you start to see his socks actually get a little crazier and crazier as the season goes on with subtle patterns, everything. So you kind of see that Two Face is taking over."
If you love details like this, then you will love how Nickel pulled together these costumes, as she made sure to showcase her own love and knowledge of DC, even with small Easter eggs throughout Gotham Knights’ first season. Every costume is clearly done with careful thought behind how it represents these characters and where they are at any given point.
And honestly, we just love the fact that there is so much more to Gotham Knights than what meets the eye because clearly, their costume designer is as much of a fan of these characters and stories as we are.