It seems there’s always concern about what Batman is going to look like when the character gets reinvented for a new project. Never has there been as much scrutiny over that than recently when the first pictures were released showing what Ben Affleck will look like as Batman. While the suit they show goes back to a more classic design, you have to wonder how much of it will be left after battling Superman to a possible bloody duel in the film. Alongside the obsession with the Batsuit, we don’t always hear enough about what the expectations are about how Batman should sound.
With Christian Bale causing enough controversy over his own raspy and mysterious voice for Batman, should the superhero sound less disgruntled and more everyman?
The debates over such things have been around for years since the movie series began in 1989. With Michael Keaton starting the Batman trend of sounding like a grizzled Clint Eastwood, we’ve come a long way from the wisecracking Batman everyone heard from Adam West in the 1960s.
The Early Voice of Batman
We’ve never heard a voice of Batman that didn’t sound anything other than masculine. Nevertheless, Adam West managed to bring a different flavor to the voice so it was a bit tongue in cheek. While Adam West makes his familiar voice sound even cheekier now when you hear it in commercials, it was a voice that gave a little fun to Batman that’s been lost in all the morose “Dark Knight” media over the last 25 years.
Even when the animated incarnations of Batman began in the 1970s, there wasn’t any attempt to make him sound like a weary and raspy superhero of the night. Those animated representations from the old “Super Friends” series from Saturday morning TV had Batman sounding no different than Superman did. In that regard, they may as well been toy figures, and they generally moved like them based on the crude animation. But a lot of people loved these takes on world’s most famous superheroes based on how they worked together rather than going at each other’s throats.
How Batman Sounded in the Movies
It’s ironic that George Clooney didn’t make his Batman sound gravelly, despite being the weakest link in the Batman movie series. His voice isn’t the kind anyway to signify a very beleaguered figure. As masculine as his voice sounds, it’s not overly that way and made Batman/Bruce Wayne a little more real in the process rather than so melodramatic.
When Christian Bale took over the role, that voice he gave to Batman has been one easily ribbed when placed out of the context of the film drama. It almost makes one wish Batman would lighten up, outside of dealing with the worst villains ever depicted in the movies. Perhaps dealing with The Joker and Bane was enough of an excuse to use a seething, weathered voice so easy to imitate.
What will Ben Affleck bring to the table, though? He doesn’t have a voice like Christian Bale’s, and it’s also a voice that isn’t considered very baritone either.
Making Batman Sound More Real
It’s probably time Batman be made to sound more everyman rather than be a feigned depressive. Voices forced into sounding mysterious in film are far too easily mocked today and can take away from anything serious in a film. Outside all the petitions to remove Affleck in the Batman role, he may have been the perfect choice to get the voice right. He always sounds like the everyman without compromising on sounding masculine. The idea that superheroes require a raspy baritone in order to sound mysterious is arguably outdated, and it’s going to be interesting to see if Affleck demonstrates why.
The worst will be if Affleck takes on a faked masculine voice to a point where people know he’s faking it. And let’s also hear Batman lighten up a bit with some witty one-liners that we used to hear from Spiderman. Audiences are going to want that as we see Batman and Superman declare war on one another. Outside of the dire circumstances, bringing back at least a little of the Adam West persona would make Batman sound more like a character who knows where the lighter side of irony is.