Now, I don’t think any movie has captured this well except for The Batman in 2022, but while Batman is a hero to some, to most, he is a horrific figure of vengeance that can scare and intimidate even the most powerful beings.
My question is WHY? Why does this psycho rich-kid in a crappy city with too much spare time strike fear into the hearts of everyone from petty crooks to literal gods.
Bill Finger’s thesis on Batman is that “criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot.” To be the sort of person who would cheat society, you would have to lack the courage to make an honest life. The author’s supposition is that Batman exists to exploit a natural weakness in the criminal mind. He scares not because he’s the scariest, but because criminals scare easily.
In Batman Begin, Christian Bale Batman did a good job scary criminal at the dock when he first appeared, a criminal went nut shooting his gun in the air and yelled, “Where are you?!” Batman, hanging upside down behind him say, “Here.” That was a good scene. I thought he brought plenty of good fear in that scene in my opinion.
I was literally watching this movie last night and I was thinking about this exact moment.
One thing that I was always taught is that criminals break the law and oftentimes get cocky when they can and don’t get caught, but then here comes this tall dark figure that comes out of nowhere and catches them. In that moment, the criminal is taken by surprise and they really have no idea what is about to happen to them. Are they gonna die? No, but when it’s your first time encountering the Bat there’s the fear of the unknown. Then there’s times where he hooks them onto his batrope and dangles them from multiple stories above. In this situation your life is literally in Batman’s hands and you have to hope and pray that he’s not gonna let go, because he’s in the position to let go and it’s all over.
Overtime, I think criminals catch on that Batman doesn’t kill, but… there are some fates worse than death, and if you don’t know what to expect from a 6’0 ft tall Batman who hides in the shadows, it can be pretty terrifying.
True, but then think about later moments in those films. He relies less on intimidation and more on his fighting and detective skills, plus very few of the crooks are scared. For example, given the events of Batman Begins, Scarecrow should be pissing himself in The Dark Knight, but he isn’t and neither are the mobsters he’s with.
Then, however, you have The Batman. All throughout the film, he utilizes intimidation to its fullest, even to the point where the music can scare you. His goal all throughout the film is to terrify criminals and weather it be through hiding in the shadows, approaching loudly to add an air of menace, or slowly walking from the Batmobile to the Penguin, flames behind him, like he has all the time in the world.
Now THAT’S a level of fear I rarely see Batman be at, safe for the comics, the DC Animated Universe with Kevin Conroy, and the Arkham games.