With the recently released 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, my anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises has reached critical mass. There’s not one thing I’ve seen so far regarding any facet of the film that has given me pause. The cast looks great, the music sounds great and the special effects look great.
Now, while it has already been made clear that Batman is going to get his Bat-ass handed to him by new villain Bane in this flick, the question remains: Just how badly is he gonna get beaten up?
The comic-book version of Bane is notorious for one thing in particular. He was the villain who not only defeated Batman, he broke the guy’s fucking back while making his point. Looking at the film, it’s obvious that Bane is nowhere near as large as his comic book counterpart, but he still looks every bit as menacing and dangerous. Will Chris Nolan’s final Batman film follow the Knightfall story arc and leave us with a quadriplegic Bruce Wayne? Who’s to say?
If we take a look at what we’ve been shown so far, it’s pretty clear that Bats is going to be in for the fight of his life. The initial teaser trailer ended with a still-as-of-then unrevealed Bane moving slowly in on an exhausted-looking Batman trying hard to keep his fists up. It’s the most telling shot shown so far in terms of just how hard Batman will have to fight in this movie, and it’s the one that has shown the Dark Knight at his most vulnerable. In the following trailers, we’ve seen Bane casting aside Batman’s broken mask, as well as a couple of brutal kicks and punches that all seem to be coming from our newly minted antagonist with Batman on the receiving end. Shots of Bruce Wayne show him unshaven, dark circles under his eyes, cane at hand. If you’ve seen Tom Hardy’s other works, you know the guy is someone NOT to be fucked with. I’ve seen forum posts making fun of the guy, calling him “Mini-Bane.” I’d love to see any one of those ding-dongs say that to the guy’s face. Hardy will be sure to bring the intensity and strength the role of Bane needs for it to work.
So just what will Batman be subjected to at the hands of this animal?
Heroes in films are made to take their licks, and a solid smackdown works as a good storytelling device to get the audience to root even harder for the hero to get some payback. When done right, it can be pretty harrowing, even tear-inducing affair. I remember seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day in theaters and wanting to cry while Arnold’s T-800 model received what seemed to be a never-ending thrashing at the hands of Robert Patrick’s liquid-metal T-1000. I doubt the T-800 had an ounce of religion in that CPU chip, but if ever a case were to be made for something having the robotic Christ beaten out of it, that scene would make for exhibit A. Even now, 20 years later, watching it makes me wince every time. Yeah, he’s a robot and an imaginary character to boot. But when he’s the guy you’re supposed to be rooting for and he’s reduced to a pulverized mess — dragging himself along the floor with one good arm — it can make for a pretty unpleasant viewing experience.
The list goes on and on. Robocop got a sound wailing from the ED-209 in the original film and was then nearly shot to pieces by his colleagues in the force. Walter Hill’s Last Man Standing had Bruce Willis get his ass kicked into a nearly unrecognizable pulp by someone much bigger than him for an extended amount of time. Clubber Lang gave Rocky a drubbing in the third installment, stripping him of his title. Then to add insult to injury, Rocky’s trainer dies right after the match, and we all end up wallowing in despair as a result.
Is this what we’re in for with The Dark Knight Rises? A overwhelming beating of our hero, sure to make the audience cover their faces with their hands? Granted, I’m pretty sure Hardy won’t be smashing Christian Bale’s head against a wall with an I-beam or impaling him with a giant spike, but whatever it is Nolan has in store for Batman/ Bruce Wayne, it will sure to be categorized and filed in the pain bin.
Especially on IMAX.