Although Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was a tremendous success, its last entry is still heavily debated among fans. Many consider The Dark Knight Rises to be the weakest entry of the series and believe it doesn’t fit thematically with its predecessors. Among the issues often discussed is the film’s main villain, Bane. Although Tom Hardy was intimidating as the League of Shadows strongman, some take issue with his role in the film - specifically that he has only loosely adapted from the comic book incarnation, the gaps in his plan and his anticlimactic death. However, there’s a new fan theory that not only puts Bane in an entirely new light, but paints the entire movie in a new light: Bane wasn’t a villain at all, he was on Batman’s side the entire time!
Reddit user ciociosanvstar has posted a message on the "Fan Theories" board suggesting that Bane’s actions in The Dark Knight Rises were actually meant to make Bruce Wayne into a better person. Bane believed in Batman as a symbol who could put an end to crime and corruption in Gotham City and inspire others. Even though during Batman’s eight year absence the crime rate plummeted to an all-time low, Bane knows that Gotham’s problems are still under the surface, which will leave it vulnerable. This leads Bane to enact a plan involving three steps: convincing Bruce the city needs Batman, showing him that Batman is more effective as a symbol than a mere man, and convincing the citizens of Gotham that they need Batman. Think of him as the tough love Dark Knight.
The first step is easy enough. Bane takes what’s left of the League of Shadows, all under Talia’s control, and conquers Gotham, forcing Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne to put on the cape and cowl once again. This leads to the second step, which involves Bane breaking Bruce’s back - showing the hero that he can be broken and beaten, but that he can overcome it. Bruce subsequently "rises" from the pit not as Bruce Wayne seeking vengeance for what he’s lost, but as Batman returning to save his city. This brings us to Bane convincing Gotham is it needs Batman, not only by conquering the city but by exposing Harvey Dent’s crimes to the public. Once the city dissolves into chaos, Batman saves the day with the help of the Gotham City Police Department, defeats Bane and saves the metropolis from obliteration in his final act as Batman. Gotham has its symbol, Bruce has moved on with his life and John Blake has taken over as the city’s crime fighter.
While this theory does (barely) work with many of the events in the film, there are still several problems. First, Bane was working for Talia, and she really did want to destroy Gotham as a way of completing her father's final mission. It’s possible Bane was playing her the whole time and intended the League of Shadows to be destroyed in their final battle, but there’s no guarantee they would have been completely wiped out. Plus, considering Bane’s love for Talia, I have trouble believing that he would double cross her like that. Also, there’s the little detail of Bane nearly killing Bruce before his sudden demise at the hands of Catwoman. The Redditor speculates that Bane put a gun to Bruce’s head so that he would be forced earn his final victory.
If we assume that every part of this bizarre theory is correct, it tells another thing about Bane: he’ll take extremely drastic measures just to make a person better. If it had been me, I would have just bought Bruce a self-help book to get him out of his funk and, you know, NOT tried to blow up a city just to make a point.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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