Batman: The Dark Knight Rises part 6
One bright day, Bane and his minions take over the Gotham City Stock Exchange. Let’s break this down.
Bane has men already inside the stock exchange, in the roles of proles: a janitor, a delivery man, a shoeshine boy. The brokers at the exchange are portrayed as slick, soulless haircuts. Both parties are predators, but the brokers are the privileged aristocrats while Bane and his men are the peasants storming the Bastille. Both groups, Bane takes care to emphasize, are there to engage in the transferrence of wealth, legal or otherwise, and the screenplay strongly suggests that the stock market is merely a legal version of what Bane seeks to do, but in the opposite direction. That is, the brokers want to steal from the poor to give to the rich, and Bane wants to, well, not “give to the poor” exactly, but certainly take from the rich. In this case, Bruce Wayne. His goal is to bankrupt Bruce in as total a way as possible. His means are violent and brutal (he comes into the stock exchange firing randomly at whoever crosses his path) but his end is abstract — wealth in the present day isn’t bags of gold or even paper notes, it’s just wisps of data traveling through cyberspace. Maybe that’s why Bane seems a little itchy during the sequence, he’s a monster born in prison and risen from the pit, it seems unbecoming that he must make do with fiddling with ones and zeroes.
The transfer of wealth, even digital wealth, takes some time, so the police surround the building. Weak-link Foley is now in charge, since Gordon is in the hospital, and he plays the role of the dunderhead by-the-book law enforcement guy whose training plays into the hands of the criminals (the sequence is like a miniature Die Hard). Once the transfer has started, Bane and company “go mobile,” taking advantage of satellite technology to continue the robbery while making their getaway on motorcycle.
Batman then shows up on the Bat-pod. He’s got some kind of EMP-gun (we’ve seen him use a version of it on the paparazzi earlier) that allows him to zap streetlights and motorcycle engines. Batman’s entrance into the situation changes the stakes for Foley, who now become focused on “taking down the Batman” instead of catching the guys who, you know, just murdered a bunch of people at the stock exchange. His reasoning being that Batman killed Harvey Dent. Foley, of course, is utterly alone in his Bat-mania — no one else on the police force seems the least bit concerned about catching Batman, and most of them are utterly thrilled that he’s appeared again. It would seem that the rank-and-file of Gotham City cops never bought Jim Gordon’s lie. (Gordon himself watches Batman’s return from his hospital bed and is happy to see that his pleas have not fallen on deaf ears.)
Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, Selina breaks into John Daggett’s safe (while Daggett watches the cop chase on TV) and seems charmed and intrigued that Batman has reappeared. There is almost a hint that Selina has a romantic interest in Batman, as though she already knows he’s really Bruce. Her eyes are full, but Daggett’s safe is empty. Selina’s there to get her “clean slate,” some kind of computer program that will erase her past. (Daggett had promised it to her in exchange for Bruce’s prints.) That’s two concurrent attempted erasures — Bane erasing Bruce’s wealth and Selina attempting to erase her past, while Bruce simultaneously brings back his past by becoming Batman again. The clean slate, it turns out, is not in the safe because there is no such thing. Daggett not only is employing Bane to bankrupt Bruce, he welshes on agreements with thieves. Cornered by Daggett’s thugs (who are also Bane’s thugs, or vice versa?) Selina gets saved by Batman, who’s having a really busy first day back on the job — he just got cornered by the police and escaped by Bat, to dash over to Daggett’s place (because he knows the stock transfer must have been engineered by him?). Batman and Selina (who is Catwoman at this point, if not named thus) team up to beat up the team of thugs, in a kind of dance number that shows their compatibility in combat. Cornered again and with Bane back from the heist, Batman and Catwoman escape by Bat, now together.
Batman lets Catwoman go, even though she’s — gasp — a criminal. He knows that she stole his car earlier, but she is currently the enemy of his enemy. Moreover, he sees that she is an anti-Batman — just as smart, just as wily, just as skilled, but on the other side of the law (and the gender line). He comes back to the Batcave by Bat (I guess he left his Batpod back downtown when he was cornered by the police?) and quickly puts together a rough sketch of the heist. He hands off some detective work to Alfred, who puts his foot down — he won’t carry water for Batman any more, he’s adamant that Bruce would serve the city better as the billionaire businessman he is. Alfred has been caregiver and mentor to Bruce (both mother and father, in a way) and now he plays the only card a surrogate parent has left — “stop this behavior or I won’t love you any more.” He twists the knife by telling Bruce that Rachel, on the last day of her life, dumped Bruce in favor of Harvey Dent, traded Batman for Daytime Batman, turned her back on the dark and obsessive in favor of a man who could work within the system, traded the legend for the practical solution. Bruce, Alfred sees, must move on, move out of his cave, to save his life, not his figurative life but his actual life. Bruce, too invested in his identity (there’s a reason it’s called an alter ego), cannot move on — how do you move on from who you are? It clings to you too tightly, it’s in every fiber of your being.