When director Christopher Nolan announced two years ago that the character Bane would be Batman’s nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises, more than a few eyebrows were raised. While the villain, who first appeared in 1993, has played a prominent role in the caped crusader’s comic book canon, he is not nearly as well known as longer-standing bad guys, such as the Joker, the Penguin or the Riddler.
Now the real reason for the hulking antagonist’s deployment in Nolan’s superhero blockbuster has been revealed — at least, in the mind of the right-wing US commentator Rush Limbaugh: It is a thinly veiled attack on Republican US presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
According to Limbaugh, who was speaking on his syndicated radio show, Bane is designed to get Americans thinking about Bain Capital, the investment fund Romney founded in 1984.
The presidential hopeful is embroiled in a spat with US President Barack Obama’s team, who have accused him of being in charge during a period in which the private equity firm laid off a large number of staff at companies it owned. Romney says he left the firm before the layoffs occurred.
Limbaugh said: “So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there’s discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters.”
“A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it’s a lot of brain-dead people — entertainment, the pop culture crowd — and they’re going to hear Bane in the movie and they’re going to associate Bain,” he said. “And the thought is that when they’re going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies: ‘Oh yeah, I know who that is!’”
Unless the British director had the ability to see into the future in 2010 when he was finalizing plans for the new film, it seems unlikely that he decided on using the villain for political reasons.
Then again, Nolan began his superhero trilogy with 2005’s Batman Begins, featuring a sinister organization named the League of Shadows — which is known for manipulating events to forge the future in its own image.
After being on the defensive for several days, Romney launched a counterattack this week, punctuated by biting speeches, conference calls and a TV ad that accuses Obama of “crony capitalism.”
He is expected in Britain next week, where he will hold a ￡48,000 (US$75,150) a plate fundraising dinner in the run-up to the Olympics.