Irisless Eyemask of Mystery
Thanks to the magic of creators cutting corners to save time and money
, a character's irises suddenly disappear when he puts on a mask. In Comics
and Western Animation
, this is all but omnipresent, and has been since around 1950.
Common reasons for this design include making characters appear mysterious and/or threatening. And then some simply do it for Rule of Cool
Also compare with Expressive Mask
Note: Characters who have this incorporated into the design of their masks when it is off (e.g., Spider-Man
and the Clone Troopers
) or already have Monochromatic Eyes
do not count for this trope.
Anime and Manga
- Darker Than Black: Hei as the Black Reaper is of the completely black variety. It seemingly has no eyeholes and just have eyes and mouth seemingly painted on it, making it perfect for concealing his Secret Identity and adding to his "Black Grim Reaper" persona's mystery.
- Gundam: Many a Char Clone throughout the Gundam franchise wear masks that have this property, with one exception.
- Haunted Junction: Red Mantle, being an expy of Tuxedo Mask, has a mask that has this effect.
- Sailor Moon: Tuxedo Mask wears a mask that whites out his eyes in the anime adaptation. In the manga, the artist averted this by giving him fully visible eyes.
- Tiger & Bunny: As this is an Affectionate Parody of superheroes, inevitably a few characters (those being Fire Emblem, Origami Cyclone and Mr. Legend) have this as part of the design of their superhero alter egos.
- The most notable hero to have this trope as part of their design is Batman. He has this feature in all other adaptations as well, with the exception of live-action ones.
- For most Batfamily members, this is explained by the fact that the cowls contain special lenses for Goggles Do Something Unusual purposes. This is a generally accepted fan theory, however in close ups we can see that there isn't anything in batman's eyeholes. Either its artistic expression, or its just the way criminals see him because he's so damn scary.
- Batman has always been depicted like this (except when portrayed by Alex Ross, who averts this trope), but a few artists (such as George Perez) have drawn Robin and Nightwing with proper eyes under their masks.
- Other DC Comics examples who are usually designed this way are Atom Smasher, Aztek, Crimson Avenger, Doctor Fate, Firestorm, Green Arrow and Arsenal/Speedy (Roy Herron), Green Lantern (with a couple exceptions such as John Stewart and Kilowog, who don't wear masks), Grifter, Hawk and Dove, Hawkman, Orion, Steel, Wildcat, and various other Bat family characters (Catwoman being a notable exception).
- Watchmen: All the masked characters play this trope straight with the exception of Rorschach, whose mask completely obscures his face, and Ozymandias, who (perhaps unintentionally) borders on Expressive Mask (complete with the mask wrinkling when he frowns- in the original comic, at least. He's pointedly this trope in Before Watchmen).
- Averted and occasionally lampshaded by The Spirit, who has big blue expressive irises to show.
- The Flash is an extremely rare subversion — his eyes have always been drawn normally under that mask, and this has been consistent between the various Legacy Characters who have taken up the Flash mantle, as well as Wally West's kid sidekicks Jai and Iris. However, Wally had iris-less masked eyes during the period between issues 50 and 130.
: "Those white Batman
eyes were never really me anyway."
- Some Marvel superhero examples:
- In all its forms, the mask of the Fantastic Four archenemy Doctor Doom constantly averts this trope. Doom's mask has a heads-up display both within the lenses and surrounding them. Not only are Doom's irises visible whenever Doom is roughly facing the viewer, but also some of the damaged tissue around his eyes, an allusion to his brash action with that same metal mask that left Doom's face badly disfigured.
- The Phantom, who is the Trope Maker, preceding Batman by three years.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were designed this way in the original comics. The only other media to retain this look from the comics was the 2003 cartoon (though later seasons give them irises, and the 2012 show uses them whenever things get serious).
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originally had Irisless eyemasks to simulate Glowing Eyes of Doom, without actually making their eyes glow. When they gave the turtles visible irises? They looked cute instead, regardless of how menacing they make their faces look.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's two fantasy alter egos, Spaceman Spiff (a Flash Gordon parody) and Stupendous Man (a superhero parody) both have masks with blank irises.
- The Dark Knight Saga: These films usually avert this trope, but on one occasion in the Dark Knight he acquires this look via a Sonic imager in his mask.
- Averted with the first battle suit constructed by Tony Stark in Iron Man, which had open eyeholes in the helmet. Subsequent constructions of the Iron Man armor have this trope in play, as Stark prefers a heads-up tactical display to peeking out eyeholes. As a practical matter, eyeholes tend to funnel debris, shards and sharps toward the wearer's eyes, rather than deflect them like the rest of the headpiece. Preferable is a resilient, transparent material that blocks the eyeholes and shields the eyes; the blankness can be Hand Waved as gloss from the shield's outer surface.
- BlazBlue: Relius Clover always wears an opera mask that makes him seem to have Monochromatic Eyes.
- Captain Falcon from F-Zero has these.
- Tizoc (AKA Griffon Mask) from the SNK-produced games Garou: Mark of the Wolves and The King of Fighters series always wears a mask that gives him this look.
- Mortal Kombat: Scorpion is a unique example. His mask doesn't just blank out his eyes, it's responsible for making him look like he has a face at all; when he removes it, all that's left of his head is a skull. Which is on fire.
- Viewtiful Joe
- This is The Wonderful 101's signature.
- The Ambiguously Gay Duo from the animated Saturday Night Live segments of the same name wear masks that white out their eyes.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko's alter ego of the Blue Spirit wears a mask of the completely black variety. His mask presumably has black glass covering it's eyeholes, since they appear black even when fully illuminated. This, of course, helps hide his Secret Identity, since major characters tend to be very good at seeing through disguises in this universe.
- In the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, Amon averts this by having barely noticeable pupils that are hidden within the shadow of his mask.
- Darkwing Duck: The eponymous character's design generally averts this. However, in one episode in which he became a Knight Templar Nineties Anti-Hero in a Bad Future after Gosalyn disappeared, he was given a design with a mask to fit his Darker and Edgier outlook and appearance.
- DuckTales: Scrooge McDuck, during a brief stint as costumed vigilante in one episode, donned a mask that had this effect.
- Gargoyles: All of the Hunters of the present time of Gargoyles wore masks that have this effect. The Hunters of the past, however, were shown to avert this.
- Hong Kong Phooey averts this. In the cartoon, the eye holes follow his eye movements (furrowed brow, etc.) but in the Charlton comics, the eye holes stay inert regardless of Phooey's eye movements.
- Justice League: Some characters who don't have this design in the comics, most notably The Flash (who is an aversion in the comics with visible and detailed eyes) in the original series and Unlimited, have this design.
- Loonatics Unleashed: When first unveiled to the public, the six Loonatics had irisless eyes while in uniform, as an indicator that these characters derived from Looney Tunes were being recast as Darker and Edgier superheroes, and when fighting villains, they would no longer play nice. However, fan backlash compelled Warner Bros. to modify the Loonatics' styling to include irises, except when using their Magic Meteor superpowers.
- Space Ghost: Though the character was never shown unmasked on-screen, artwork by Alex Toth shows what he looked like without his cowl.
- Static Shock: While the character's irislessness is from Glowing Eyes of Doom via electrokinesis in the comics, but in the television adaptation this design is averted by giving the eponymous hero visible irises behind his mask. However, his older self as shown in Justice League Unlimited plays this trope straight by having white eyes without the Glowing Eyes of Doom.
- The eponymous character of Stripperella.
- Jake Clawson and Chance Furlong have normal irises while working in Megakat City's scrapyard. However, when villains threaten Megakat City, they become the SWAT Kats Razor and T-Bone. They wear bandannas tied around the tops of their heads that make their eyes seem irisless, an understandable precaution to prevent Commander Feral or any of his Enforcers from recognizing them.