I loved this movie.
Don’t get me wrong, it was flawed, but I enjoyed it. I mostly wanted to state this so that people don’t think I’m just hating to hate.
The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t really a bad movie. People shit on it for being weird and different than Christopher Nolan’s first two. I don’t think it was a bad ending, but to me, it seemed clumsy. And in some places, it seems like an opportunity was missed, or at least tripped on.
If you found this post and you haven’t seen the movie, here is your official spoiler warning. In fact, the post won’t make a lot of sense unless you read this synopsis.
The fight between Bane and Batman was pretty epic. It was a man struggling to redeem the cowl, and himself, by pitting himself against the terrifying force that is Bane. He loses and we are heartbroken.
It always stuck out at me that Batman stands and fights when he is so clearly losing. The thing is, Batman is not about being a big, strong, tough guy. Batman is calculating, cunning, and intelligent. He has faced more dangerous situations and knows when he needs to pull back. Batman’s only real super power is the power to be prepared for things. Essentially, my inner comic book fan is sitting there wondering why he doesn’t run and bide his time.
The spine fixing technique. Its super fucking dumb. In The Dark Knight Rises, its fixed when a dude punches Batmans vertebrae back into place.
I know we needed a speedy way to fix Batman, but even people with a complete lack of medical knowledge like me were sitting there going, “You can’t actually do that, Mr. Christopher Nolan.” It was bad and almost any other way would’ve been better.
My last several complaints are all wrapped up nicely into one argument.
Lets talk about Bane.
Christopher Nolan had a monumental task of trying to write another villain like the Joker. What better villain could they use than Bane? The one comic book villain that famously broke Batman.
But Bane felt really out of place. At least to me. He was weirdly subdued actually. I know they can’t have a hulking behemoth of a man realistically fit into all of this gritty rebooted-ness, but even his character felt a little off.
You find out near the end that Bane is actually working for Talia al Ghul. He knew her as a child, and cares deeply about her. But even with that twist, you cannot make the argument that she was the villain all along. She appears in the last fourth of the movie, and Batman has spent all movie training to defeat Bane and reclaim his city.
In the comics (at least the ones I’ve read), Bane is a lone wolf sort. He hires muscle to help him with the bigger jobs, but much of his work and motivation is about being the best and the strongest above others. He is self centered and intelligent, and doesn’t need anyone else’s help. Even in the comics, he only teams up with other villains when the benefit to him is great.
Bane was mostly picked for his role because he was the one that defeated Batman in the comics, and it would make the most sense to have him defeat Batman in the movies. He fit though. He has previous connections to the League of Shadows and Talia
What if I told you there is a better villain.
In this movie, Bane’s only connection to comic book Bane is the mask. He didn’t really feel like he had presence as a villain.
I nominate Deathstroke. He should’ve been the villain in The Dark Knight Rises.
Think about it. Bane was the villain mostly by circumstance. There was nothing implicitly about Bane that made it so he had to be the villain. Anyone could have fit into that slot and it wouldn’t have changed much. In fact, I’d argue Deathstroke is better.
Bane is set up to be in Gotham city by businessman attempting to bankrupt Bruce Wayne. Bane then uses this situation to take over Gotham. It all feels so happenstance.
For Deathstroke it would’ve made much more sense since he is routinely hired as a mercenary or assassin, and we could have a mysterious subplot about who hired Deathstroke to double cross his original client, the businessman.
The defeat of Batman in the sewers? Sure, Deathstroke can’t lift and break Batman, but if Batman suffered a serious sword or gunshot wound instead, the audience would be more inclined to believe he would recover in the prison. Puncture wounds heal naturally. You don’t have to punch them into submission to heal it.
The relationship between a mercenary and a client would’ve made things more believable as well.
Bane is eventually defeated when Catwoman shows up on the Bat-bike and blows him out of frame. Whatever happens to him next is off screen, and therefor boring.
He died, since he wouldn’t have run because he cared about little Talia so much. A boring end to his character.
Deathstroke would not sacrifice his life for the cause of a zealot. Money or no, there would have been more drama or action involving Deathstroke. He’d probably try to take his money and flee, and Batman would have to stop him from escaping. So instead of Catwoman ex machina, we’d get an awesome showdown between hero and villain.
The fact that he’s a well known mercenary in the Batman universe makes it much easier to believe that hes simply a front. The story of the the prison, escapee, Talia, and Bane all felt really threadbare. I didn’t feel any connection because Talia was a twist in the end. There was no character or relationship development. So why not just cut out this weird subtext by having the villain be a straight up assassin for hire? You could make the argument that the story is important to build up the legend behind Bane, but if you’ve watched the movie, you know there isn’t a huge legend present in it. No one goes around talking about Bane in a hushed tone. Once he releases the prisoners, he’s just a figurehead, not a legend.
Also, he should be played by Stephan Lang.