Beauty and the mask

It sounds silly now that I think about it and probably quite a few snobs will roll their eyes at me for what I’m about to say, but I was truly and genuinely impressed by a movie in the Batman series. Namely The Dark Knight Rises. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the action-packed scenes, the sci-fi pieces of equipment and all the unexpected twists of the story, the movie also provided some serious food for thought.
Well, ok, maybe serious is a bit of an overstatement in this case. To be more specific, some things in this movie sent me back to the old Hollywood cliché of what is it about men in uniforms that makes them so sexy?... Except I took it one step further and focused not on uniforms, but on masks.
You see, there are several scenes in the first half of the movie where Bruce Wayne appears as an aged, frail, crippled man, and I bought into that image so much that I found myself reflecting, hey, he’s actually not that good looking. In fact, check out that nose and that face… yep, he’s definitely on this side of ugly. (Christian Bale fans around the world, please feel free to read this as a comment on his amazing acting skills). Fast forward some 20 minutes, give him a gorgeously fitting costume AND a mask and I’m crushing over his character like some 12 year old.
No, I mean that. Part of the reason I didn’t even dare blink throughout the movie was the inescapable charm and sex-appeal of the Batman character. And that effect wasn’t limited to any scenes in which he wore the suit and mask. I also saw Batman in Bruce Wayne when he was lying, physically and mentally broken, on the bottom of some pit of despair. Basically, once I had seen Bruce Wayne as Batman, there was no going back and he still retained his charm and sex-appeal, regardless of what he was or wasn’t wearing. 
Is that a contradiction to the above observation that I found him ugly? No, not really. Because this experience ties in with a rather similar one I went through some 6 years ago, maybe even more, while watching a play at the local theatre.  Some Shakespeare, I believe. And while I don’t remember too many details, I do remember that the main character was wearing a mask across the top half of his face – and that I crushed on him massively and got involved heart and soul in the story that was being told on stage simply because of that mask. At the end of the play he took it off and I noticed that the actor himself definitely wasn’t what I would consider attractive, but that didn’t spoil the fact that I was crazy about the character.
And just so we’re on the same page on this, both in the case of Batman and that Shakespeare character, when I say crazy I mean “found them HUGELY attractive from a physical point of view”. But why? I’m not sure. Idealists will say it’s the actual persona of the character I was attracted to, as opposed to just his physicality, but I remain skeptical on that. Physical attraction is called just that for a reason. Because it stems from very… well, physical aspects of a certain person. Sure, courage, self-sacrifice, selflessness, and whatnot, they all count to make one more “lovable”, but do they also contribute to down-to-earth, so-hot-it-burns, can’t-keep-you-hands-off sexiness?
I’m guessing not. I’m thinking it’s the mask that does the trick. Maybe even the uniform, if we regard it as part of one’s mask. And I see two possible explanations for that. Either the mask hides so much that it leaves TOO much room for imagination, and our minds just fill it in with, umm, out-of-this-world sexiness?... OR people actually feel like it’s safer to act authentic when hidden behind the safety of a mask and thus they can afford to give off a powerful sexual vibe without the pressure of being judged by the others…
I don’t really know. But all in all, I certainly don’t mind when someone or something makes me feel 12 again.

P. S. Don’t even get me started on how sexy the character of the Phantom of the Opera was… Talk about hot masks!