After the unfortunate news of Heath Ledger’s death, Christopher Nolan was forced to pencil in a new villain for the third and final entry of the Batman saga as the idea of Joker being in the final film was a strong possibility. Enter Bane, a supervillain created by writers Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench, who made his debut in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 in January 1993. Bane is known for his brute strength and intelligence. He’s often credited as the villain who broke the bat, as the DC villain is the only physical specimen to truly match Batman both in wits and brawn. Bane first made his live-action debut in the critically panned Batman & Robin; however, he’s the main focus in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
From the opening scene introducing the DC villain, it’s clear that Nolan understands just who Bane is. While the voice is…wonky, the director never relies on his brute strength as his main source. The airplane scene demonstrates to the audience that Bane is a methodical, smart, and cunning man with a dedicated following. From there on, Bane closely resembles the man that’s often portrayed in the comics. Sure, his story changed a bit. He was born and raised in the Pit, which is a hellish prison located within a Middle Eastern country. However, his backstory is quite similar to his original comics upbringing as that version spent most of his life behind the walls of Pena Duro – a dangerous prison in Santa Prisca. Bane carries himself as an equal foe to the dark knight.
Scarecrow and Joker were more so intelligent and mental challenges for the caped crusader. Ra’s al Ghul was more physical, but not in the way that Bane was. Ghul knew Batman’s moves because he trained and mentored the Gotham hero. He could easily match moves for moves with Mr. Wayne, but he’s in no way an imposing threat like Bane is. In one of the most infamous moments in the comics, Bane literally breaks the back of Batman. He had the option to kill the DC hero, but according to the masked man himself, it would end his pain and suffering if he did. The Dark Knight Rises replicates those scenes, though he doesn’t exactly say the infamous line that shot Bane into being one of the more popular acts on the Batman roster. Bane is by no means perfect in the Batman film, but by all accounts, he generally feels like a huge threat to Batman. You could argue that he’s a bigger threat to the dark knight than any villain presented within the Nolan universe. The filmmaker does an excellent job crafting Bane as a formidable foe, though Nolan does stumble with him towards the climax.
Once it’s revealed that Talia is the true mastermind of the League of Shadows then he’s dispatched easily by Catwoman. To be honest, Bane felt more of a puppet for Talia once she was revealed as the true antagonist, which was a mistake. Bane disobeying Talia is what ultimately got him killed. I know he’s been following orders throughout the movie, but his cloud of judgment felt random because he’s never showcased as a man who moves without a plan. I understand the need to get over Talia’s power over Bane, but it hurt the Batman villain in the process. Bane and Talia are often presented as equals, with the former being the dominant force between the two. It should’ve remained that way throughout the course of the film. Talia could’ve still been the mastermind behind the whole plan, with Bane doing the dirty work of actually executing it. Plus, Batman should’ve gotten the kill shot against Bane. That’s the man who broke the DC hero, so it would’ve been rightful that Batman is the one that ultimately takes down the villainess brute.
In some ways, Catwoman killing off Bane protects Batman’s moral code and based on the way that Bane was presented then death seemed like the only option unlike Joker. However, it did rob Batman of a massive victory over one of his toughest foes to date. Still, despite the mishap of master and follower with the Talia and Bane dynamic, the DC villain is very true to his comic book counterpart. Did he need to be? No, as there’s nothing wrong with changing the story that suites the film as long as Bane feels like a formidable threat. He does, and though Bane had the tough task of following the tremendous Joker, The Dark Knight Rises showcases him well.
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