Since we were inspired by Beatrice's scars, let's start off with the obvious: As in real life, scars let us know that a person has been through some decidedly real shit. But here's where fiction differs: placement counts. Receive a wound over your eye and, good or ill, you're the fierce bastard who walked away from a hand-to-hand battle.
(L-R) Disney, Eon Productions, ibid, Universal Pictures
Although whether you'll kill children to achieve your goals remains up to you.
But raise that scar to your forehead, and now you're some poor slugger who's taken his licks and come out stronger for it. In Sin City, Hartigan's an old man, but a hell of a fighter, as most men are when the prize is Jessica Alba, Cowgirl Stripper Edition. Even a villain like Renard in The World Is Not Enough is more of a poor dope in love who's slowly dying of being too impervious to pain.
The most prominent forehead scar in pop culture history belongs to Harry Potter, who was just a baby when Voldemort tried to kill him. The bolt on his brow remains a toehold for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to try again. On the plus side, it serves as an early warning system for Harry to detect when the Dark Lord is plotting evil or stubs his toe. It literally, as well as symbolically, toughened the teen up while blemishing his daily life.
It also gave him a great pickup line: "Yeah, I was that baby who was too tough for the world's most terrifying sorcerer to kill." A scar like that is a sweet deal compared to the acne all the other kids are getting. Sure, it left him with a telepathic pipeline to an evil sorcerer, but how dark could that really be compared to the thoughts of the average teenager?
"I- I had the chicken dream ... again."
And speaking of those two heroes, let's talk about shape and color for a second. Got a cool white "X" or a beige lightning bolt? Then chicks dig scars. But if it's a glossy, burning keloid, my advice is not to tell 007 your plan before leaving him alone to die.
Put a scar on a guy's chin? Same as the forehead: He's rugged. But move it closer to the mouth, and you have a lunatic clown like The Dark Knight's Joker, or a sneering twerp in Gladiator's Commodus. Think about it: The eyes and mouth are the most expressive parts of the whole human being. Since we're wired to recognize facial expressions, limiting or distorting them creates a dissonance that can disturb people. It's not as off-putting as having your face sliced open, but still.
The reality, of course, is that Commodus' scars are nothing more than a real-life microform cleft palate. Whatever that is, it has not stopped any of the women you date from pretending you are Joaquin Phoenix when you have sex at them, but the movie doesn't care. Gladiator, you might remember, had another scarred character: Cicero, played by Tommy Flanagan.
Chibs cleans up real nice.