How Realistic Are Two-Face's Wounds?
July 19, 2008 7:44 PM   Subscribe

A question about physiology and The Dark Knight. (Beware, here there be spoilers.)

While I was expecting them to introduce two-face, I was not expecting them to show us the full extent of the damage to his face, and I so was not expecting it to be that grisly. Yeesh. It's been haunting me, that face. And, it has made me curious.

Are two-face's wounds at all plausible? Could someone be burned so badly that they looked like that (with the tendons and muscle exposed) and still be functional at all? Would an eye exposed like that be able to work as well as it seems to in the movie? Would speech be possible? Could someone live for a considerable amount of time in that condition, while not seeking treatment?

I know it's just a movie (and one about a man who dressed like a bat, to boot), but I'd like to know how realistic this aspect of it is. Thanks!
posted by Ms. Saint to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, there's the small issue that he'd be a walking pile of infections with all that gore exposed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:58 PM on July 19, 2008

I'd think his speech would be affected, at least.
posted by amtho at 7:58 PM on July 19, 2008

ROU_X - maybe he didn't have time to get infected; the movie only seemed to pass a day or two after the incident in which he was burned - no?
posted by amtho at 7:59 PM on July 19, 2008

I think that would be considered a fourth-degree burn. I'm not sure how functional it would be, but he wouldn't feel any pain from it because all the nerves would have been burned.
posted by Deflagro at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2008

I doubt he could talk as well (if at all) in real life. The right side of his lips act perfectly normal right up until the point where the cgi takes over. In reality, I'd imagine his bottom lip would be kinda flappy and useless.
posted by GeekAnimator at 8:33 PM on July 19, 2008

At the very least, I'd expect his closed-lip letters to sound a little strange.
posted by EatTheWeek at 9:08 PM on July 19, 2008

I figured he should've gone into shock or something. I mean, considering he refused all painkillers. What was really weird was that he wasn't drooling or anything at all. Just two tiny bloody spots on the pillowcase.

I also have to wonder how his exposed eye stayed lubricated. Unless they just cut away every time he put some eye drops in. Probably would've taken away from that whole "I'm going to kill your child" thing.
posted by giraffe at 9:10 PM on July 19, 2008

In case anyone needed it, here's a (gory) pic of Two Face.

Some thoughts:

* His speech would definitely be affected, like a stroke victim's. He's simply missing half his lips.
* I have a hard time believing his eyeball wouldn't be all droopy and unable to focus.
* In one shot, I thought I saw part of his mandible detached (I could be wrong). If that where the case, his entire jaw function would be comprimised.

That said, the design is clearly influenced by another DC character -- Jonah Hex. And it was a great movie!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:18 PM on July 19, 2008

I dunno, Cool Papa Bell, most incarnations of Two Face in the comics have had him pretty grisly like that in one way or another, with the big rolling eyeball being especially popular. I'd agree with you about the tendon thing, though.

Anyway, no, it's not likely. But physiologically a lot of things in Batman are not likely.
posted by Anonymous at 9:40 PM on July 19, 2008

Injuries like that are certainly plausible, but you would need some serious reconstructive surgery to be able to function again. The fact that he suffered no hearing/speaking/breathing/swallowing problems is not realistic.
posted by Autarky at 9:43 PM on July 19, 2008

Not at all. It's the same as with Darkman: dipped in a vat of handwavium, he gains the power to ignore his horrible injury!

This is a far more realistic take on the character. So's this (Aaron Eckhart) and this. Those three could speak and eat and have relatively near-normal facial expression function.

IMO they went way too far with Two-Face's injuries, and he would have died of them, as depicted. I'd have preferred they keep it to about the level of the last pic above, keep him around for sequels, and I was expecting the movie to end in the scene where he's shown for the first time. I guess next movie will be Catwoman's, maybe the Penguin, maybe Bane (but the Joker's arc took care of most of that kind of conflict). They've shown a complete reluctance to use actual superpowers or supertech much past near-now levels, so they can't really use Poison Ivy, Mr Freeze, Clayface, or Killer Croc without changing the tone completely. This Batman is not JLA Batman, this is a Batman in a world without other superheroes.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:55 AM on July 20, 2008

Not getting the Jonah Hex thing; when I saw Two-Face, I immediately thought of this incarnation of him from Batman: The Animated Series.
posted by King Bee at 6:58 AM on July 20, 2008

This Batman is not JLA Batman, this is a Batman in a world without other superheroes.

It was a world without other supers. As the Joker was at pains to point out in his extended attempts to co-opt Batman, there's no going soon as Batman donned his costume, it became inevitable that the other side would as well. Now that the floodgates are open, there's nothing to stop them from using supers in the future.

Besides, it's looking like only someone with super powers could pose any kind of a threat to Batman. He's pretty badass in this incarnation.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2008

He'd hiss a lot and not be able to make several hard consanants. His left eye would be in much worse shape.
posted by cmiller at 10:08 AM on July 20, 2008

It's not realistic at all but then, neither is a lot of the movie. I thought it worked well, but anyone in that shape would not have a functioning eyeball, be able to talk, nor would they likely be conscious so soon afterward. I highly doubt they'd be in any condition to refuse treament of any kind, nor would I expect the doctor's to listen to the ravings of a burnt man who would be in shock.

In terms of the Batman universe created in the movie, I'd say it's realistic. In real world terms, not so much.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:15 AM on July 20, 2008

Best answer: I'm very critical of these things. That said, I tend to shrug my shoulders and go, "Eh. It's for dramatic effect," and just roll with it when I see it. But here is my list, off the top of my head, of what I see wrong with Two-Face's injuries and their deptiction (in my totally non-professional opinion, anyway):

- With enough heat to have burned away that much flesh, the eye would probably have boiled/been eradicated as well.
- The muscles for speech/jaw movement/eye movement would be completely useless, if intact at all (not to mention, the eye -can't- move without the eyelid, which helps contain the muscles that move it).
- I'm not a medical professional, but I don't believe they would have left the tissue in that state. I think they probably would have done at least a partial debridement. I may be wrong.
- He would not have had the option of remaining conscious. I am close to someone who suffered a major burn, and they were kept in an induced coma with massive doses of drugs for several weeks following the accident.
- The swelling that occurs post-burn, especially on something that bad, is hideous. Combined with the tough layer of dead tissue that develops on the surface, this will lead to constricted circulation, which in turn leads to tissue death and, well, hello, gangrene! Check out escharotomy, for kicks. [NSFW, graphic]
- With exposed burned tissue, you have two issues: infection, as mentioned above, and dehydration. Skin is a very useful thing. Without it, I'm told, moisture loss can be catastrophic very quickly.
- Just a pet peeve: hair seems quite flammable. If the other half of his head was on fire, I'm pretty sure most all of his hair would have burned away, and his other eyebrow/lashes, too.

The stuff already mentioned seems pretty spot-on, too, especially the speech thing and the eye lubrication issue.

Nonetheless, I loved me that movie. Mmm.
posted by po at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2008

Also, of course I find it after posting, but this article is really cool and says a lot of what I was trying to say above. [Also NSFW]
posted by po at 12:10 PM on July 20, 2008

Gah, borked. This article, I meant!
posted by po at 12:11 PM on July 20, 2008

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