This one, I promise, will be brief. I’ve intended many to be brief but they’ve gone longer than intended, but I will keep my promise this time. Maybe.
Recently I’ve had cause to mull over The Dark Knight Rises, the fascinating finish to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. (I know it’s called The Dark Knight Trilogy on packaging and in “nerd” circles, but it’s really a Batman Trilogy since the first one was called Batman Begins, not The Dark Knight Begins. Maybe I’ll write one about that curious naming convention and what rules, if any, should govern these sorts of nicknames in the future.)
I, like many others, find myself gleefully enjoying the focused agent of chaos called Bane. He really is a worthy character to follow up the Joker as portrayed by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.
Like the Joker, Bane is an agent of chaos. Where they differ is their goals.
The Joker uses chaos to achieve power and to validate his existence. In a closer read, I maintain that The Dark Knight is a re-examination of some deep biblical themes, including an allegorical exploration of the Christian understanding of God evolving from Law Giver to the Absolver of Sins.
Bane is the selfless answer to the Joker’s selfish obsessions. He uses chaos to destroy the world. He has no goal but destruction.
Yes, they’re both focused on Gotham in the literal story sense. But Gotham is of course the metaphor for the world as a whole. I know you know that.
Bane leads a nihilistic revolution, seeking to burn it all to the ground to validate his view about the emptiness of it all. To Bane there is nothing good about the world as it exists. The revolution is the tool to the end. He rigs the entire contest so that no one can win.
So Why Do I Call Bane Brilliant?
By building a revolution with no end but death for all, Bane has figured out the only way to “win” is to accept that everyone loses. He has no escape plan, and he’s not trying to win an argument. He’s trying to end it.
If Batman never gets back from the underground prison, everyone still dies. Bane will still incinerate it all even after he’s taken over Gotham.
Bane knows the revolution will ultimately consume itself, and he has no vision of a future after it. He has learned from Robespierre that the bloodthirsty can never be satisfied truly or permanently. The only way to stop it is with fire.