Dear Hollywood, Please Fix Batman’s Mask

Enough with the black eye-liner! I’m a fan of Batman and I love the fact that Batman has made onto the big screen but I feel Warner Brothers never really […]

Enough with the black eye-liner!

I’m a fan of Batman and I love the fact that Batman has made onto the big screen but I feel Warner Brothers never really got the mask right.

Since Batman’s first appearance, the eyes on the cowl have always been white. It’s a cool look and has worked for Batman. There are other masked characters that also use the white eyes and others that show the actual eyes. But due to Batman’s nature, the white eyes always work best for him. Some comic creators felt the cowl was high tech and had a heads up display. I like to think of it that way

The first time Batman appeared in the movies was way back in 1943 with the movie serials. Then came the Adam West and Burt Ward in 1966, which also had its own movie. Then finally we got Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989. Michael Keaton played the title character. Now the costume was a little different from the comic, but the most noticeable had to be was Batman’s mask or cowl.  Now the actor needed to see out of the mask so the costume designers couldn’t make eye holes too small. To compensate, they used black makeup to cover and simulate that the mask was form-fitting. 

This worked well in Batman, but at the end of the sequel, Batman Returns, as Batman is pleading with Catwoman, right before he takes his mask off, all the makeup disappears. They end up using the black eye makeup in the next 2 sequels.

Fast forward to 2005 with Christian Bale in Batman Begins. This version is a little bit more grounded in reality and so is some of the tech, but again they decide to go with black eye makeup. I truly don’t understand this, especially with all the technical details about the batsuit director Christopher Nolan went into. Lenses and HUD would make so much sense. What completely confused me is 2 years earlier there was the Daredevil film, wherein it, actor Ben Affleck, wears a mask with red-eye lenses.  Just change those lenses to white and it works for Batman. That simple. We did kind of get a taste of it in the Dark Knight, but it’s not the same.

Next came Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Batman is played by Affleck, and for all the suspension of disbelief, director Zack Synder goes for no lenses. In fact in the Justice League film, Batman dons a pair of goggles that I personally think looks silly. But again, another movie proves you can do the white eyes, and that is Deadpool!

In Deadpool, director Tim Miller realizes that the character does have facial expressions, but wears a full mask over his face. His solution, use CGI for the whites of the eyes and give the expression we need. Why can’t this same thing be done with Batman? This seems so logical.

So now we have Matt Reeves’ The Batman coming up and so far all we’ve seen is one teased image with a red filter on it, and an unofficial behind the scenes shot of the Batman stunt driver on a motorcycle. While the stunt driver is wearing lenses this could just because he’s on a motorcycle. And while it’s hard to tell with the image of Robert Pattinson, it looks like once again, no lenses.

I really don’t understand why Batman can’t have white eyes in the movies. By looking at films like Daredevil and Deadpool, it’s still possible for a character to have the white eyes and still have facial expressions. Heck, even the kids in the Umbrella Academy used to masks with white eyes. Plus we are talking about Batman, who is a very stoic character. It truly baffles my mind why Hollywood is so afraid to do something so simple. Plus I’ve seen cosplayers who do a better job when it comes to the cowl.

And this trend has spilled over to TV as well, like Arrow. Every time Green arrow takes off his mask, the make-up is gone. Then why use it in the first place? It still takes me out of the scene. 

While I don’t have enough information on the new Batman film, I do hope that Reeves does try to break this ridiculous cycle of the black make-up and give us a Batman that looks closer to the comics. Either way, I’m still looking forward to a new Batman film and one can hope that Hollywood will emulate the comics, and finally get it right.

Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

About Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

An avid comic collector/reader for over 40 years and self-proclaimed professor of comicology, Brian original started up the site Pendragon's Post to share his voice. Well that voice has been shared, and evolved into The Fanboy Factor. Brian is an advocate for remembering comic roots, and that we don't forget what was created in the past, and encourage everyone to read it as well. When not swimming in geek culture, he can be seen corrupting..introducing his young son to comics, much to his wife's chagrin.