The Batman director has explained why Robert Pattinson’s version of the Dark Knight wears eyeliner, and no, it’s not because he’s really into My Chemical Romance. In an interview with Esquire, Matt Reeves explained that Batman wears make-up like that for practical reasons, pointing out Pattinson isn’t the first Caped Crusader to patrol the streets with smokey eyes.
“You can’t wear a cowl and not wear that,” Reeves explained. “All of the Batmen wear that. I just loved the idea of taking off [the mask], and under that, there’s the sweating and the dripping and the whole theatricality of becoming this character.” Reeves is right; almost all of the big screen Batmen from Michael Keaton to the DCEU’s Ben Affleck have worn make-up around their eyes except for Adam West.
The black make-up disguises the lighter skin tone of Batman, making the cowl look more comic book accurate and allowing the actor room to emote beneath the cowl. The only thing is that we’ve never seen a big-screen Batman take off his mask and still have the make-up on underneath.
Usually, we can presume that Bruce Wayne has just washed the make-up off after a night beating up the various Batman villains who plague Gotham. However, there’s one exception to this.
In Batman Returns, we see Keaton peel off his rubber hood to reveal his gorgeous visage, but as he does so, the make-up around his eyes miraculously vanishes as well. Maybe he had some make-up wipes in his utility belt?
OK, it’s obviously just a minor, and deliberate, continuity error, so Keaton didn’t have big panda eyes during his tortured declaration of love. Still, the man dresses as a giant bat and thinks he can punch crime into submission; he already looks ridiculous what’s a bit of make-up.
If you love Keaton’s Batman, you can see him return in The Flash when it hits theatres later this year.