Obviously, The Batman offers a lot of nuances to unpack. From the way it delves into Bruce Wayne’s family (and Selina Kyle’s for that matter) to Barry Keoghan popping up as that major villain, just about every minute of Matt Reeves’s three-hour-foray into Gotham City has something to talk about. And I haven’t even gotten started on Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot. But I would be lying if there wasn’t one thing, in particular, I couldn’t wait to see on the big screen. That thing? Batman’s smokey eye makeup, of course.
I anticipated Batman’s look for months. Ever since Reeves and Robert Pattinson suggested they were going where no Batman has gone before: to Sephora. The Batman‘s Bruce Wayne and his Dark Knight alter ego are delightfully emo. And Polygon, bless them, has the low-down on how The Batman achieved that killer ~lewk.
The Batman‘s makeup designer Naomi Donne spoke of the specific aesthetic Reeves aimed for. Specifically, he wanted to give Bruce a sort of slept-in, haphazard smokey eye. With the same kind of residue familiar to anyone who has ever worn eyeliner or took a shot at the very smokey eye.
“Matt was really keen that there were remains of [the eye makeup] when he took his cowl off,” Donne said. “So we pushed that. We actually took the cowl off and looked at what was left, and we used that. It’s really hard to get black eye makeup off, and we used that.”
But giving Pattinson the perfectly messy smokey eye for his Batman look wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially given the character exists in the murky, rainy shadows… And Gotham City seems to sit in a cloud of smog. Plus, there’s a whole flood during the final act. Suffice to say Batman gets wet and sweaty, so solid waterproof makeup was a must. This means the makeup department used a variety of tools to achieve the look. These included a special pigment, a creamy eyeliner, a pencil, and a liquid paint makeup. Plus a little sparkle to “give it a bit of light, so that it reflected lights in the same way his Batsuit would’ve.”
While Edward Cullen sparkled in the sun, the de-cowled Bruce Wayne sparkles in his cave.
And to the surprise of exactly zero people at this point, Donne spoke of Kurt Cobain’s influence on Bruce Wayne. If “Something in the Way” hasn’t haunted your brain for the last several months, you clearly did not pay enough attention to this movie. Reeves clearly had the song on repeat throughout The Batman. (It plays in the movie twice and appears in many trailers.) But specifically, this black eye makeup look offered a way to create a deeper connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman. The black makeup lingers around his eyes even after he’s shed the suit. We see it, for instance, when he’s in the bat cave or when Gordon and GCPD meet him after Alfred’s attack. Bruce cannot leave Batman behind fully. And the symbolism really strikes a chord.
And Donne did that purposefully. “I loved that at times it was very smudged and running down his face, and at times it was just a smokey eye. But at all times it was never clean,” she said. “It always came from the remains of the cowl. It was the way of Batman lingering in Bruce Wayne after he’s taken his costume off.” Bruce and Batman, united by eyeliner. True poetry, if you ask us.
And honestly, it looks spectacular. Giving Pattinson’s Batman a smokey eye feels like an inspired choice and one that pays exponentially. This Bruce Wayne took on a much more broken rougher persona. And his makeup set the tone for that. Although, should they return for more, I really hope Bruce invests in some micellar water. (Or even a make-up wipe.) Give yourself (and your skin) a break, Bruce.