Making a Batman

by Steve Bowler on August 18, 2008 · 3 comments

in art,critique

While looking at the pictures of the new Eidos Batman game, Arkham Asylum, I kept thinking that Batman reminded me of someone.  I’m normally not a “screenshot” kinda guy; I know how much they get “bullshot” to make them look better, and I really want to see something in motion before doing any kind of a real critique on it, but I couldn’t help but think that I’d seen Batman somewhere before.

And then it hit me.  He looks like Clooney from Batman and Robin.  While discussing it at work a bit in an email thread, someone forwarded that it also looks like Alex Ross’s Batman.  Take a look:

This raises an interesting question:  Did the developers willingly borrow from these “classic” faces?*  Or is the face depicted in Batman: Arkham Asylum what everyone would pretty much describe as “the” Batman face?  I can see it going both ways.  On one side of the argument, it looks like they used Clooney’s lips and eyes, and Ross’s chin (mixed with a touch of Clooney’s chin too), but on the other side of the argument, I’d probably describe Batman as having a strong chin, rugged features, a powerful jawline, etc.  There’s only so much you can do to differentiate faces when all you have to go on is eyeballs and below the nose-line (which is why disguises work against humans, duh), so I imagine much of what we see there is just gravitating towards an agreed upon Batman “look.”  But then I think about how 3D artists work, especially texture artists, and I know that borrowing from strong recognizeable features is typically what happens.

What do you think?  Should they owe Ross/Clooney royalties?  Or does this fall under fair use?  I’m not making a big deal out of it, or trying to take a stand, just curious to see what other folks think on the issue.


 *Clooney has a very classic face.  His performance as a Batman leaves much to be desired, however.