By now, Christian Bale's deep baritone Batman has become a permanent fixture in the minds of many - but as most fans of The Bat might know, it wasn't Bale that originated the hero's growl. Michael Keaton, who recently won a Golden Globe for his performance in [Birdman](movie:780317), decided on the growl while shooting Batman's first appearance in the Tim Burton films.
Sitting down with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Keaton gave a little more insight in to what has become a tradition, and will continue as such with Ben Affleck if what Jennifer Garner has to say is correct.
When the pivotal introduction scene was shot, Keaton realized that Batman's identity had to be protected, and the voice was too much of a dead giveaway for one of the most famous philanthropists in Gotham City:
There’s no way this guy doesn’t just look at me and say, ‘That’s Bruce Wayne, everybody! I figured it out! It’s obviously you! You’re four feet away from me!’
Cue a mini-brainstorming session on set with Keaton, Burton and crew, where several different additions were tried to help conceal the Caped Crusader's identity. From different staging in the shot to different colored contact lenses, each try was given the boot until Keaton decided to drop his voice a few octaves and create the iconic rumble that now strikes fear into the villains of Gotham.
I had to do something. I had to drop down a register. Then I learned, later, that it became a thing [for future 'Batman' movies].
Keaton's drive for realism while wearing spandex was based on his preference for logic over gaudiness, as the actor described:
I’m kind of a logic freak. I don’t know how to do anything unless I have a logic to it. It can be the silliest, stupidest, broadest thing, but I have to work from somewhere.
Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale continued this tradition, adding their own raspy spins on the voice each time. They defined Batman's movie voice against the nostalgic, smooth grit of his animated counterpart, voiced by the legendary Kevin Conroy.
Now, it's Ben Affleck's turn to take on the growl in [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870), and presumably several future Batman film appearances in the near future. But can he live up to the legends?