Four Letter Nerd

In Defense of Batman’s Voice

Before the release of the Dark Knight trilogy Batman seemed to be relegated to nipple-suits and Bat-Shark-Repellant. The filmmakers failed to see that you could actually make a good Batman movie without having to use enough neon lights to make the eighties jealous. This all changed with the release of Batman Begins.

With the Dark Knight trilogy, we finally got to see how Batman might operate within a realistic setting. Instead of an oversized Austrian Ice Scientist and Bruce Wayne adopting a 28 year old, we were given a terrifying, psychopathic, Joker, and how the immortal Ra’s al Ghul would actually attain immortality (spoiler alert – it isn’t the Lazarus Pit).

Along with the realism, we also got something a lot of people weren’t expecting – Christian Bale’s marble-gargling Batman voice.

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Now, a lot of people don’t like that aspect of the series. I, on the other hand, appreciate why it’s needed and applaud Nolan and Bale for the extra level of realism.

If Bruce Wayne was just your average Gothamite a vocal disguise might not be that necessary, but he isn’t an average Gotham City citizen. Wayne, the Prince of Gotham City, is one of the most popular people in Gotham and is most likely constantly critiqued by the Gotham equivalent to whatever the hell Perez Hilton is.

In Batman Begins we see him swim in a decorative, hotel pool with super models. In The Dark Knight we see him take the entire Russian ballet, which was scheduled to perform, out on his personal yacht. Those kinds of stunts land you on the front page of those awful tabloids that always exclaim that Oprah is a drug addict and Jesus lives in Nebraska.

As the face of Wayne Enterprises, one of the more charitable companies out there, Wayne would constantly be in front of the camera, and his voice would constantly be streaming all over Gotham and surrounding areas.

Why go through all of the trouble concealing your identity and fail to disguise something as distinct as your voice? The vocal disguise is absolutely necessary.

Now lets look at other ways other than vocal that Batman could possibly be identified.

A lot of big cities are starting to utilize facial recognition technologies to identify persons using a “faceprint.” A “faceprint” is a collection of facial landmarks or “nodal points.” Each human face has around 80 nodal points some of which are the distance between the eyes, width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, the shape of the cheekbones, and the length of the jawline. For facial recognition to work the picture must be taken with decent lighting, and the distinguishing features used for the faceprint must be visible.

This is the Achilles Heel of facial recognition technology when it comes to identifying the Batman. He spends more time in dimly lit back-alleys and rooftops than Aquaman spends pretending the ocean is making his face wet and not his tears. His face will never be well lit, and Batman’s cowl conceals the majority of his nodal points used in the faceprint.

Another seemingly possible way to identify Batman would be to make a list of all of the people in Gotham rich enough to buy a Tumbler, a helicopter, and a high tech battle suit and scratch off anybody that couldn’t possibly fit the bill, for instance, you could probably scratch Donald Trump and Warren Buffett off the list. That list cannot possible be that long could it?

What if Batman was financed instead of a self-made man? It could be Carrot-Top under that cowl for all the GCPD know, have you seen that guys Popeye forearms lately? My point is, there is no way to just identify a rich guy and say that’s Batman, because it’s just as likely that Bruce Wayne is the Caped-Crusader as it is a middle-class Krav Maga instructor who is given a suit and training, and told to break the jaws of villainy.

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To be fair, he doesn’t need a Batsuit to terrify people.

The benefits of the vocal disguise are two-fold. Not only is the voice necessary for disguising his identity, it is freaking terrifying. Remember when Batman zipped Detective Flass, who was enjoying some falafel, to the top of a building and screamed at him, “WHERE ARE THE OTHER DRUGS GOING?!”

I almost confessed to transporting the drugs myself and I was in the theater.

I know for many it was off-putting and unnecessary, but after all the work Christopher Nolan put into making his characters believable it only makes sense that he would find the vocal disguise necessary, and I totally respect that.

Let me know what you guys think about it in the comments section.

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Could not agree more. The voice is pragmatic – and anyone who argues otherwise is just plain wrong. Next comes the opinoin part, or, do you like it?

    For me, it is a resounding YES. That “Where were the other drugs going scene?” was mystifying the first time you watched it. It captured all the horror that Batman should exude. It is also beautiful in TDKR, “Not everything, not yet.”

    Ahh, Christian Bale. You ARE Batman.

  • Good points to justify an otherwise annoying and almost movie ruining voice. It wouldn’t be half as bad if it was more of a badass voice like Bane’s, rather than a rich guy with a severe case of laryngitis.

  • I agree completely. This is always my argument with people. I just say “imagine you never heard bruce waynes voice, you would be scared a shit that this giant bat is growling at you at max volume.

  • I always loved the contrast in the voices and this is definitely a good defense of its use. What most people don’t realise is that Christian Bale’s voice was edited in post production and his voice was made to sound raspier and more terrifying on purpose. So it ended up being Christopher Nolans decision. At some points this may seem hilarious like, “WHERE ISH THA TRIGGERRR” but other times it works well “I’M NOT WEARING HOCKEYPADS”. The best moment for its use though is, “I’m Batman” in Batman Begins. That comment wasn’t dialed up in post and it works so well.

  • I’m sorry, I tried for the longest time to defend it because I am such a huge batman fan, and I completely understand him having to disguise his voice because he is a famous playboy billionaire, but they could have at least toned it down a little bit, maybe more of a Clint Eastwood grumble and not so much a garbage disposal. I love these movies, but his voice in the Dark Knight is especially bad. There are scenes in it to this day that i still have to have on the subtitles just to tell what the hell he is even saying.

  • It is vital, but I think it’s overdone. Besides that, wouldn’t it be a better question to ask, why expose your mouth at all? I’d rather have a completely fool-proof mask, fresh with a voice synthesizer from Fox that makes Bruce sound like a demon, not a heavy smoker. Sort of like Iron Man or Darth Vader. To me, Vader is more terrorizing because you cannot see his face at all. Same thing with Grievous, V, Dr Doom, etc.

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