Christopher Nolan Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Batman’s Voice

I faintly remember after the release of Batman Begins that some audience members hated Batman’s voice. Many questioned the raspy gruffness that took hold of Christian Bale’s throat. Admittedly, I questioned it myself. Yet, as I thought about the film more, the resonance of an off-putting voice gained clarity. I asked myself: Why haven’t more superhero films attempted this kind of nuance?  Why is a pair of glasses and parted hair enough for Superman?  It seems silly that anything less than a complete character overhaul would be justifiable. After hearing a decent amount of people bitch about Batman’s voice in The Dark Knight, I started to get a bit annoyed by the voice’s backlash. Even though the voice provides a new, modest wrinkle, it was a decisive negative talking point for the film. If you scour the message boards enough, and ask handful of filmgoers, I’m willing to bet that most of them think the voice is unnecessary or pointless. It really isn’t.

Sure, the voice is prime fodder for lampoons, especially when one can’t quite get on its cadence, but it fits within the context of the character. Considering Bruce Wayne is attempting to create a beast that infiltrates the mind of Gotham’s scum, it would only make sense that he embodies an entity beyond himself. Could you imagine a soft, angelic voice striking fear into the heart of the lawless?  The voice, the cowl and the elusive strikes craft the appearance of an inhuman being.  He becomes something to fear; the voice acts as an amplifier. Outside of crafting a monster in the shadows, the voice lends itself to the notion that Batman is a character separate of Bruce Wayne. Much like how an actor assumes the attributes of a character, it would only be fair to assume that the voice is a form of method acting. Once he dons the cape and cowl, he transforms into the creature of the night. The voice is an active part in ensuring the transformation is complete.

Furthermore, considering Bruce Wayne is a mega celebrity in Gotham City, with his voice likely instantly recognizable to the citizens and major figured heads, the sand paper voice is a form of identity protection. Imagine a kidnapper using his real voice in an attempt to corral a ransom. That’d be pretty stupid, right? So, imagine Bruce Wayne busting out his regular voice to talk shop with Commissioner Gordon. It’d be equally stupid. Listen, I understand if people just don’t dig it or have issues with the voice coming across clearly. From time to time, it has inaudible tendencies, especially with Hans Zimmer delivering the “BLAAAAAAAAM” around it. Nonetheless, the voice has a purpose. If you don’t believe me, just go ahead and give me your address. Why? I’ll follow you around for a day and really show you how annoying and pointless a voice can get.


2 thoughts on “Christopher Nolan Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Batman’s Voice

  1. Bale’s Batman voice doesn’t bother me much. There are much bigger problems in The Dark Knight than his voice. I would agree that using that voice to instill fear into people, but I don’t think it hold during this film. He uses it when he’s talking to Morgan Freeman’s character. I guess he feels the need to use it whenever he’s in the costume, fighting crime or not.

    • Yeah, I would assume so. At least to me, by using the voice when he’s always in costume, it’s either to maintain continuity or he’s used it to the point now that it’s muscle memory.

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