Batman: The Dark Knight Rises part 14
As The Dark Knight Rises heads into its final long, sustained suspense-action sequence, it pauses to give a moment of truth to Foley, its most lily-livered character. Foley, who, just yesterday, was seen scurrying into the darkness of his home to avoid confrontation, is now leading an army of cops (freed by Blake and Batman) into an all-out assault on Bane’s headquarters. It seems that, after all, Gordon and Blake have finally inspired Foley, even Foley, to action, to take back his city. For, the question rises, to whom does a city belong? It belongs to its citizens. The Bruce Waynes of the world may think it belongs to themselves, and the politicians may think it belongs to themselves, but a city without citizens is nothing — society is the responsibility of everyone.
Bane’s forces, bless their hearts, give the cops warning before firing. How odd, that they have rules of engagement at this point, against men they entombed months earlier! The beat is meant, of course, to show the complete inversion of roles: the police are now the brave dissidents heading into confrontation with the now de facto criminal police state, ensconced in the corridors of power, complete with Attic Revival Greek temple style white-stone columned buildings. Whatever his pretensions, Bane is the new boss, same as the old boss, but with sharper fangs.
Batman appears, briefly, to spur on the cops, like a magic talisman, and we’re reminded that he, officially, was a wanted criminal at the top of the narrative. Now he’s a police mascot, defender and cheerleader. The police assault, as it happens, is a distraction, to concentrate Bane’s forces on his HQ while Selina blows a hole in the tunnel blockage, Blake organizes an orphan exodus and Gordon searches for the bomb. (Even with Bruce being his most selfless, it still pays to be his friend — no one he cares about is on the front lines of the assault.
Batman parks The Bat somewhere and joins in the fray at Bane HQ. “You came back to die with your city,” snorts Bane, and Batman answers “No, I came to stop you.” It seems like an odd answer, a little on the nose even, except that it means that Bruce/Batman no longer considers Gotham “his city,” or even Batman as his identity, he’s simply here as a defender. Maybe that’s why he’s finally appearing in daylight — he’s not even a Dark Knight anymore, he’s become his own Daytime Batman.
In the fracas, Batman punches Bane’s mask and damages it, causing Bane to blanch. How strange, and how fitting, that the World’s Greatest Detective couldn’t figure out that his nemesis’s weakness is his mask. He keeps going until Bane is broken, using the time-honored World’s Greatest Detective method of obtaining information, punching and screaming a question over and over. Bane, still stunned that Bruce made it out of the pit, fills him in on the final clue (the last person to help Bruce solve a case by giving him information): he is not the child of the pit, he never did escape the pit (literally and metaphorically). The child of the pit, Ra’s Al Ghul’s child, is Miranda, or rather, Talia, who now takes over as lead villain of the piece (a belated anti-Catwoman to Bane, to match being an anti-Selina to Bruce), who now literally stabs Batman in the back and reveals that she is the trigger-man for the bomb. “Although I am not ordinary,” she says, wielding the detonator, “I am a citizen.” So, while Bruce has been hemming and hawing about what to do with this city he think of as his, he’s forgotten that he is not the only one who thinks that way — Talia has been planning, for years now, to dispose of a city she lives in, a full anti-Bruce.
And so we learn that Talia is the child of Ra’s Al Ghul, and that Bane is her protector, was her protector, her Blake, her Batman, in the society of the Pit, and that Bane’s illness, the reason for his mask, sprang from his fatherly love for Talia, and was the reason he could never be with her again. Ra’s Al Ghul, we are told, couldn’t accept Bane as a brother because he was too dark, too much in the shadows for the League of Shadows, but it seems that Ra’s real problem with Bane was that he was a competitor for his daughter’s love. Which makes Bane an anti-Alfred, a fill-in for Talia’s absent father, tossed aside when he is no longer needed, reclaimed by the daughter who loves him. Bane has given himself utterly to Talia as Alfred gave himself to Bruce, but Talia stood by Bane and made her part of her life while Bruce ignored Alfred, took him for granted and let him walk away rather than change his life.
Bruce went into this Bat-venture in order to sacrifice himself, but has now changed his mind. Talia, on the other hand, the True Believer, is prepared to kill herself for the sake of her point, and detonates the bomb. Except, of course, Gordon has blocked the signal with the thingymabob from The Bat. Batman the strategist, the showoff, the boy most likely, has brought all the attention to himself to deflect it from Ordinary Citizen Gordon, the anti-Talia, who has been toiling, without witnesses or glory, to save the city. For eleven minutes.