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.
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.
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.