Bane Breaks The Bat In The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan has earned a good deal of acclaim over the course of his career, a fair portion of which is for his work on The Dark Knight Trilogy. Not only did Nolan successfully bring Batman back to the screen after the critical failure of Batman and Robin, but he redefined the way the public perceived the character.
With Batman Begins, both Batman and Bruce Wayne received well-defined, well-thought-through characters. With The Dark Knight, Nolan captured the zeitgeist with an exploration of the ethics of surveillance and the late Heath Ledger’s monstrous Joker. With The Dark Knight Rises, he sought to bring Bruce Wayne’s story to a close and continue his exploration of Batman’s power as a symbol. At the same time, he introduced audiences to Tom Hardy’s take on Bane, a villain whose most famous story arc saw him become one of the few people to outright beat Batman.
His prior appearance on film had been in Batman and Robin, where he served as a glorified goon in Poison Ivy’s surface. Rather than the brilliant, ruthless and clever villain of the comics, Batman and Robin’s Bane was a near-voiceless thug whose smartest moment came when he snuck into Gotham City by putting on a trench coat and a fedora over his full costume. Not only would Hardy’s Bane have to live up to the legacy of his comic counterpart, he would have to establish a foothold in the public’s consciousness despite a less than stellar prior attempt.
He succeeded, in large part thanks to his quick, methodical and complete thrashing of Batman. As with The Raid: Redemption, The Dark Knight Rises conveys a lot of character in the fight. Bruce is eight years out of practice, overconfident and in Bane’s own words, fights “like a young man.” Bane, on the other hand, is a man with a mission. Every punch is carefully chosen, quickly delivered and utterly devastating. Bane never moves more than he has to, and instead prefers to counter Bruce’s increasingly desperate attacks with prime blows and jarring taunts.
It is not a grand, climactic duel, nor is it a brawl. Bane is a master planner who knows both his own strength and his foe’s. Nolan showcases this with a well-timed close up of Bane effortlessly catching Batman’s strongest punch, and allows the physicality of the scene to shine through by leaving the scene soundtrack free. The only sounds come from Bane, Batman and the nearby sewer drain.
In other words, the scene’s power comes entirely from itself – Batman’s doomed struggle, Bane’s assured brutality and the utter isolation of the sewer base. It climaxes with Nolan, Hardy and Bale recreating the moment of Bane breaking Batman’s back over his knee. It is shocking, disquieting, and the fallout from it informs both Bruce and Bane’s character arcs throughout the rest of the picture, exactly as it should.
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