Bane VS Batman

In honor of my last post I’ll share this chilling video with you.

I swear it only gets better every time I watch it.  Quotable line after quotable line, the terror on Catwoman’s face, the vulnerability of Batman.

I’ll never forget how I felt the first time I watched this scene.  After the last couple of Batman movies you feel that Batman is almost invincible when fighting hand-to-hand with an enemy.  When the gate closes and Batman is trapped on the catwalk I figured the trap, when sprung, would be falling concrete, water or some other unstoppable force.  As it turns out the unstoppable force was Bane himself, leisurely approaching Batman- his prey.

BANE

There’s nothing better than a well-written villain.

There’s villains you love to hate (Loki of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and villains you hate to hate (Joffrey of Game of Thrones). Either way, they make or break a story. Villains aren’t just evil masterminds set on world domination (not if they’re good villains). They provide moral conflict for our heroes, place them in impossible situations where there is no right answer, no good choice.

A good villain makes the hero question their own motives, provides catalysts of character growth, plants seeds for further plot development even long after they’ve been defeated.

You’d have to have lived under a rock to not know most of Batman’s biggest villains. Forty years of Batman film history (not including Adam West’s television fame) has guaranteed that any casual moviegoer can name at least a few of the Dark Knight’s nemeses. The Joker, most obviously (he’s even worse in the comics, you don’t even know). The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, the Scarecrow, the Riddler. All have left a lasting impression on the Batman.

My favorite is Bane. God, the name alone sends shivers down my spine!

Bane.

I won’t say he’s had the greatest impact on Batman, because the Joker’s murdered and crippled several members of the Bat Family and that definitely tops the list of traumatic experiences, but Bane is up there. In case you didn’t know, he’s the one that broke Batman’s back. Literally.

Like many bandwagon fans, I learned of Bane first through the Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises. The movie itself isn’t my favorite to be honest, but Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane steals the show every time he steps into frame. I never thought evil, masked beefcake was my type, but damn. It is. Hardy’s Bane is eloquent and charismatic, but fights primal and brutal. He’s a goddamn force of nature. Unstoppable, intelligent, a gale force wind. Gotham’s reckoning. Fuck.

Nolan’s Bane is conceptually very different from Bane of the comics. Comic book Bane wears a luchador mask, hails from a fictional Latin island in the Caribbean, and operates off a super-steroid called Venom that runs directly into his brain and spinal chord. Much of Nolan’s origin story for Bane/Talia al Ghul is taken from comic book lore. Bane is born in prison to serve his father’s life sentence. Through much hardship and isolation he becomes massively ripped, learns six languages, and reads books like a chain-smoker lights up. He earns the loyalty of the inmates, and upon escaping by faking his death and fighting a bunch of sharks, he returns to stage a breakout. From there he plots the defeat of the Batman and the subjugation of Gotham.

Batman is greatly challenged in various ways by his numerous opponents. Joker’s insanity and criminal mastermind, Penguin’s resources and network, Poison Ivy’s unique proclivity and control of plants. They make for fun and interesting stories. But here’s what makes Bane different: he is Batman’s equal. Now, I’ve only read as far as the late 90’s at this point so I don’t know everything, but as far as I know Bane is the only villain to defeat Batman in a one-on-one fight. It’s a duel that ends with bane snapping Batman’s spine. It’s truly chilling.

It wasn’t a fair fight (Bane’s hopped up on ‘roids, Batman hasn’t slept in a month and is physically and emotionally worn down by the time he confronts Bane). But even so, it’s not just his physical prowess that makes him a phenomenal match for Batman. Bane planned for months and released the Arkham Asylum inmates to keep Batman busy. He’s crazy smart and knows how to play the long game. His victory over Batman wasn’t just fisticuffs. It was calculated yet animalistic.

In Nolan’s conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy, Bane speaks slowly, casually, to a defeated Bruce Wayne. For being so vicious, Bane is not ruled by rage. He’s far too controlled for that. No. He leans in, quiet, slightly muffled by his horrific mask, and says,

“When Gotham is ashes…. Then you have my permission to die.”

If you don’t think that’s the coolest shit then get outta my face.

Saved

If I haven’t mentioned it already I’m slightly high-strung.  It isn’t a problem or anything.  I just need my personal time when I need it, you know?  That being said it could be a good decision or a bad decision to relate the following events.  It could be good because they have a happy ending, or bad because it was very, very stressful most of the way through the story!

Well, here I go.

I got home from work at around 5 o’clock in the evening last week.  It wasn’t a horrible day or anything, just long and very work-like.  Needless to say I was tired and ready for some dinner, a glass of wine and maybe even a hot bath!  I must say, by the way, that there simply isn’t anything as relaxing or soothing as some cabernet in  a warm bath at the end of the day.

I had a quick, simple dinner.  Just heated up some frozen chicken and veggies.  After finishing up I immediately went up to draw a bath.  I got out my essential oils, a few candles, cranked the temperature up on the water and let it flow.  To my utter horror dark, murky, filthy water poured forth from the spout!  My jaw dropped, I held in a scream, then I screamed, then I turned off the water.

This has never happened before of course.  I didn’t know what to do.  I froze, got very emotional and maybe shed a few much needed tears.  Then I became reasonable and did the first thing that came to mind- I searched for a plumber on Google and picked one.

In case you didn’t know, calling a plumber can be quite intimidating. Even if they have good reviews you’re still trusting your home to a total stranger.  This guy had good reviews and everything but I was still nervous about it.  About an hour later Ryan showed up, cleanly dressed with a smile on his face.  He was tall, gruff and happy to help.  He was my dark knight.

When filthy water spews into your bathtub all sorts of causes present themselves to you- dead body in the plumbing?  did the sewer and non-sewer lines get crossed? is that possible? ew!  have rats chewed holes in everything?

Thankfully it wasn’t anything near as dramatic as all that, not that my plumber hero couldn’t have handled those things.  It just so happened that my water heater was very old and quite awhile on it’s last legs.  Between that night and some work the next morning Ryan was able to remove my old, busted water heater and replace it with a new one.

I was elated!  Not that I care about water heaters, but my worst fears and apprehensions about 1) my plumbing and 2) hiring a plumber turned out to be completely ill-founded.  The solution was simple and Ryan was batman.  He charged me a fair price and didn’t up-sell me on anything else.  The price was what it was and I was totally pleased with the service!

All that to say, if disaster strikes when you least expect it and it has to do with pipes or water heaters or whatever, don’t hesitate to look Ryan up: Plumber Costa Mesa.

Sadly, I didn’t get my bath that night.  But you’d better believe I had my wine, perhaps a tad more than I planned on.  But hey, you gotta go with the punches sometimes, right? What initially should have ruined my entire week turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I know I’ve for sure got 8-10 years before I need to worry about my bath time threatened again (at least from my plumbing) and I have a trusty, not-so-dusty plumber on call whom I trust and appreciate.

Until next time be thankful for hot, running water, essential oils in the bath and a smooth glass of cabernet.  Hopefully it isn’t the latter than turns sour on me next time!

Robin

The thing about Batman is that he’s actually a huge asshole. He has little emotional growth, incredible control issues, and he’s killed at least one wolf and I’ll never forgive him for that (Batman: The Mad Monk #4). It’s only through interactions with his companions that Batman becomes truly interesting. That’s Robin’s real origin story – not Dick Grayson, but Robin as Batman’s sidekick. The writers realized that if Batman’s story was only told through thought-bubbles, he becomes tedious and dreary. Batman needs a Robin, so he can explain his genius detective skills to another character.

Left to his own devices, Batman would swing around the concrete jungle that is Gotham in total silence. He’s in a constant state of brooding. Blah, blah, never got over my parents’ death, blah, blah, man-pain, blah, blah, I am the night.

No on cares.

Batman’s childhood trauma is so overwrought, and while in the moment it is super tragic and makes for a great backstory, there’s no reason why Bruce Wayne shouldn’t have healed by now. We’ve all lost someone, we all know that pain. We deal with it differently and heal in different ways, at different paces, but time really does heal all wounds. Or at least patches them up in to high functioning scars. But in order to remain Batman, he’s not allowed to heal. It’s been 80 years, Bruce, go to therapy.

This, of course, is the fault of the writers and not the character. But for me it makes Batman come across as an emotionally stunted man-child incapable of reasonable growth and character development. It eventually makes him boring.

His sidekicks, companions, and various members of the Bat Family are way more intriguing, and keep Batman’s character from devolving into the psychological equivalent of a brick wall. As I continue reading the comics from the continuity guide (thank you Comic Book Herald), I can’t help but feel like I’m wading through the drudge of Batman’s initial stasis so I can get to the good stuff – namely, the Robins.

Not only do the Robins humanize Batman back from the robotic vigilante ledge he’s been standing on, they each have individual story lines that are inherently more interesting than Batman’s.

Dick Grayson is the first Robin, and he is sunshine personified. Heart-of-gold Dick Grayson. Witty, good humored, extraverted, kick-ass Dick Grayson. I could go on forever. He’s just so great, and I want him to be my acrobatic vigilante child. And he doesn’t just balance Batman out – he is Batman’s polar opposite. He makes Batman care about people more than justice, to the point that when Dick gets seriously injured after years of being Robin, Batman freaks out and decides there’s no way a child should be a vigilante (oh my GOD, how are you just now realizing this of course a child shouldn’t be fighting crime where have you BEEN Bruce, dear lord).

So he fires him. Batman straight up FIRES Dick from being Robin. I should point out that by the time this happens, Dick’s 19 and an adult capable of making his own decisions, so he’s just like “Fuck you, I’ll be Nightwing then” and takes off.

Even though Bruce has decided to work without a Robin in order to avoid further child endangerment, he cannot stop himself from adopting cute bull-headed orphan kids and turning them into superheroes. It’s a somewhat disturbing pattern that defines Batman’s relationship with his Robins (all 4.5 of them, that is), but it’s also what makes the series worth reading, in my opinion. I’m here for Robins and dysfunctional family dynamics.

As Tim Drake (Robin #3) famously states, Batman needs a Robin.

Batman

I have an obsessive personality. I’m not good at letting things go, or enjoying anything in moderation. If I were to personify one of the 7 Deadly Sins, I would be Gluttony. I don’t know when to stop. I don’t want to. I want to consume and consume until there’s nothing left, until I’m burnt out and bored, and then I’ll move on to the next obsession. The only positive is that my obsessions aren’t destructive vices like alcohol, drugs, over-eating.

 

No, I’m talking about Batman.

 

I’ve always considered myself Marvel Trash™ and I will go to my grave declaring Captain America to be the best superhero of all time. So the DC universe in general is new to me.

 

I know the basics. You can’t grow up in America without learning about Batman’s origin story like it’s part of the Common Core curriculum. I’ve seen the movies (Nolanverse of course being the most influential on my generation), I watched the animated series with my brother as a kid. Batman is such a normal part of our culture that I took him for granted. Batman’s always been there, crying over his dead parents in a dark alley, dressing up as a flying rodent, defeating villainous Furries on the reg.

 

And the thing about Batman – about most legendary superheroes, really – is the sheer amount of history behind the character. I’m not even talking about fictional bios (don’t get me started), but the nearly 80 years of real-world comic book history. Do the diehard “real” fans actually read all that material? How am I supposed to compete with that? ‘Cause you know I’m not about to drop a fortune on 80 years of ancient comic books so I can “prove” that I’ve read Batman. To make things worse, nothing’s quite linear. It’s not just the Batman comics (#1-700-something); there’s Detective Comics themselves, there’s all the additional side stories and characters and spin-offs, all the crossovers that are vital to Batman’s story… It’s infinite and impossible.

 

I had to google a reading order (I recommend Comic Book Herald’s guide), and while I’m following that as best I can, I hate knowing that there’s stuff out there that I haven’t read. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, if the iceberg is the entire continent of Antarctica. So instead of trying to read everything in its perfect order, I’ve been focusing on specific character storylines so I don’t lose my sanity to something as relatively inane as fucking Batman.

 

I have an obsessive personality. This doesn’t always get me in to trouble, depending on the focus of my obsession. If it’s Harry Potter, I read the books and move on. If it’s Pokémon, I play my 3DS now and then and keep the app open on my phone. If it’s Star Wars, I marathon the movies and read the books and play the games and watch the cartoons and then I go back to work. Once it’s all over, I can do my chores and see my family and pretend that I didn’t just fall off the face of the earth in order to consume all things Star Wars.

 

But not the goddamn Batman. No, he has to have 80 years of multiple comic books and movies and video games and cultural impact, making my plight endless and daunting. I cannot possibly “finish” Batman. Batman’s never over. Talk about an Infinite Crisis. When will I sleep? Will I ever see my family again? How can I bring in a paycheck if Batman’s constantly haunting me from the shadows like the fucking creeper he is? When will my suffering end?

 

Damn you, Batman. Damn you.