Christopher Nolan Doesn't Think Tom Hardy Gets Enough Respect For The Dark Knight Rises

"The Dark Knight Rises" is the third and final film in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, bringing a close to the legend that started in 2005's "Batman Begins." Following the massive critical and financial success of the second chapter in the trilogy, "The Dark Knight," anticipation was at an all time high for the epic conclusion. Released in 2012, the film was a financial success. However, the positive critical reception was nowhere near the level of universal acclaim that "The Dark Knight" had received. 

It makes sense then that director Christopher Nolan considers Tom Hardy's turn as Bane as overlooked. The villains were one of the biggest highlights of Nolan's trilogy, and Hardy had big shoes to fill — especially considering the posthumous Oscar that Heath Ledger earned for his performance as the Joker. According to Nolan, Hardy's performance as Bane has yet to be fully recognized, given the amount of effort in subtlety and physicality that the actor brought to the role. 

However, some aspects of Hardy's performance paired with the film's script hold back Bane from being held in high regard. 

A physically intimidating villain

While speaking on the Happy Sad Confused Podcast, Christopher Nolan looked back on Hardy's performance as Bane in the film, saying that the risks Hardy took led to a truly great performance from the actor:

"There's no safety net for any of these guys, and Tom, I mean... what he did with that character has yet to be fully appreciated. It's an extraordinary performance and truly amazing."

"The Dark Knight Rises" featured a primary antagonist who was not only a match mentally for Batman but served as a physically superior villain for what seemed like the first time in the series. To make that convincing, Tom Hardy would need to bring physicality to his performance which required the utmost dedication.

Hardy's hard work to train his body would pay off, as "The Dark Knight Rises" featured some of the most brutal fight scenes of the series. Batman's first encounter with Bane became one of the film's highlights, ending in Bane breaking Batman's back as a callback to the comics. However, the physicality of Bane was never the problem. Instead, Hardy's vocal performance was at the center of the discussion, considered indiscernible at some points in the film and later on parodied in shows like "South Park."

A monstrous performance

Nolan went on to elaborate on the many intricate moving pieces of Hardy's performance as Bane. He appeared to defend the meme-able choice of voice, emphasizing how it complements the actor's mannerisms and subtle facial expressions that helped to make Bane the intimidating villain that he was in the film:

"The voice, the relationship between just seeing the eyes and the brow. We had all these discussions about the mask and what it would reveal and what it wouldn't reveal, and one of the things I remember him saying to me, he sort of put his finger up to his temple and his eyebrow and said, 'Can you give me this to play with? Let people see this.' Sure enough, you see this kind of Brando-esque brow in the film expressing all kinds of just monstrous things. It's really quite a performance."

Nolan's admiration for the performance and the deep thought that went into all of Bane's characteristics definitely helps to paint the villain in a different light. However, even when taking into consideration how Bane's distinct and muffled voice played into making the character monstrous, there's still the problems with how his character is handled in the film. 

Specifically, his abrupt demise at the hands of Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle.

Flawed in the writing, not the performance

Bane's master plan for Gotham and his role as the main antagonist is suddenly flipped on its head by what feels like a forced twist in thet hird act of "The Dark Knight Rises," undermining the character. It's not so much that Hardy's dedication to the role and the performance is overlooked, but that the film's writing left something to be desired for the character.

Batman gets his victory over Bane in one last fight before it's revealed Bane was never the one behind the plan to burn Gotham, but Marion Cotillard's Talia Al Ghul. While Cotillard is engaging as Talia (oddly acted death scenes aside), it's a story point that comes too late into the film. Overall, the writing choices that led to Bane being so quickly brushed aside definitely didn't help any future retrospectives on the character. 

Such an aspect of production was obviously out of Hardy's control, but that didn't stop the actor from doing everything he could with the character. No matter what, viewers will always remember "The Dark Knight" trilogy for the villains and the powerhouse performances that brought them to life. Even if the voice Tom Hardy used for Bane has become a meme at this point, it shouldn't take away from how terrifying the actor came across in some scenes.