Unlike virtually every other costumed character in comicbook history, The Batman (for reasons that will become clear later on in this essay) is different. While other characters are (or become) their alter ego, Batman IS the character and “becomes” Bruce Wayne in order to hide in plain sight. This is perhaps one of the things that Tim Burton got right in his very gothic-looking, but otherwise vapid batman films (in his second film he has both Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne show up at a costume party as the only ones not wearing masks, then has Bruce say “Let’s go upstairs and get out of these costumes” Clearly demonstrating that Batman thinks of Bruce as the “mask”. In this latest film, that incident is referenced when Bruce & Selina are again similarly “(un)masked” at a costumed event.
As anyone needed further proof of this, on the animated Batman TV show, Terry McGinnis, the teen who has taken over the role of Batman, was fighting a villain who utilized sound as a weapon. The villain has managed to have Wayne committed to a mental institution by affixing a sonic device to Wayne’s skull that broadcast “voices” in his head. When rescued by McGinnis, Wayne ascertained that while he was indeed incapacitated by the device, he knew he wasn’t crazy because the voice in his head that was broadcasted by the device kept calling him “Bruce” and that’s not what he called himself. Puzzled, McGinnis asked, “What do you call yourself?” All it took was a look from Wayne, to get the teen to respond, “Oh, yeah, right.”
Still, like The Dark Knight before it was more Joker than Batman, this film is more Bane than Batman; for if our worth as people is to be judged by the company we keep, then the literary hero’s worth to society and as legend is determined by the villains he battles. To this end, the villains have to be bigger, badder, and more over the top vicious/colorful than the heroes against whom they fight.
In the comics, Bane was introduced by writers Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Alan Grant, with input from veteran Batman writer and longtime editor, Denny O’Neil. While there are substantial (cosmetic) differences between the comic and film versions of the character, the essentials remain the same. Bane was born in a prison and has enhanced his physical abilities with the mask he wears (in the comic it is the delivery system for a super-steroid neurotoxin known as Venom, in the film it helps him better endure the pain of being Bane). In both he is the head of a criminal empire, very smart, extremely powerful, as well as a very adept fighter. In both incarnations he also has ties to perennial Batman villain Ra’s Al Gul, and in both he breaks the Batman’s back
One reviewer objected over the manner in which the Bane was ultimately dispatched in the film (no spoiler here, folks, we know that the bad guy is simply not going to win), which is actually reflective of the way that he was initially beaten in the comic — not by the Batman, but by Azrael, a slightly less-stable “superhero” who stepped in to play Batman between Bane snapping his spine and the Caped Crusader getting better. For a time, Bane came back to dog at the heels of Batman ( you don’t kill a villain like Bane off all at once), until the character fell into disuse several years later.
To be sure, while we did rather enjoy the film, we did have some serious issues with it as it played out on the screen in front of in the dark. (What is it about the third film in a trilogy Always seeming to go out on such a downer note. We’ve noticed this with not just funnybook films (Spider-Man 3), but “standard” films as well (The Godfather: Part III). Why can’t anyone build a successful trilogy where the third film is as good as the first?)
Anyway, while we do understand that there are fundamental differences between comics and film; hence the story adaptions and characters are going to be different in a reflection of that; we just wish that the script writer for the third film in any given series wouldn’t attempt to bite off more than thy can chew and simply shoehorn everything that was left out of the first two.