Table of contents

The Dark Knight Rises

A note on chaos & law, continued

A doctor in a jail teaches Bruce Wayne that man will bear defeat easily if he fears death, which supplies strength when nobility would fain desist. Defeated, his body broken, his enemy has brought the shadows back to the city to prove that chaos & oblivion are necessary. Bruce Wayne’s tormentor nevertheless promises to torture his soul: He will destroy the city. Bruce Wayne’s soul is his body.

Bane is the name of this curse. He says darkness molded him: He is shapeless. He is at home in the dark, having learned to terrify mankind. Bane knows mankind dare not stare into the abyss. He was born there, he says. He introduces the horrendous violence: Let’s not stand on ceremony.

Necessity destroys ceremony. Bane brings back the chaos the Joker had introduced to the city – already forgotten, not one generation later. The city’s ceremony, to say the least, is flawed. Batman must learn not to stand on ceremony: Not to hope in anything but himself. The virtue of his body is the only thing that can save him, Bane teaches.

The convention behind the destruction of crime in the city is the lie that the police & Batman together perpetrated on the city, which welcomed it unwittingly, hungry for perpetual peace. It turns out to have been too small a lie. Comfort seems petty, cowardly, unmanly when Bane brings a hero’s warlike spirit with him. He defeats Batman easily, almost with contempt. He says, Victory has defeated you. Men war by necessity, but they cannot long endure it.

Batman asks Bane, Why didn’t you just kill me? Bane leads the shadows: He wants to educate real men about chaos, about darkness, a fate worse than death. Everything built on chaos must perish; but the civil peace requires blindness to chaos. Bane brings civil war. The needy criminals at the bottom of the city rise to destroy the rich; the hard come up to fight the soft. The city cannot stand united – it cannot defend itself. Both are men of the city. Both want justice to save the city. Batman learns he cannot save the city from necessity, hence that Bane is neither god nor necessity. They must kill each other: Ceremony cannot be defended by speeches.

The death of Bruce Wayne is fated: The Batman is a tragic hero: A man who believed that he could bring a stronger justice out of the abyss. Chaos did not destroy him or his purpose; but it has not offered him the means to educate the city about the fragility of the civil peace. In death, he is replaced by a man who has never stared into the abyss. How can he heal the city?

The end of the Dark Knight.