Christopher Nolan Doesn’t Care What You Think About Bane’s Voice
While there has been some infinitesimal measure of divide amongst viewers of The Dark Knight Rises prologue and trailer with respect to their overall awesomeness, what is 100% unanimous is the audience’s estimation of Bane: you can’t understand what he’s saying through that mask, at least not on the first listen. What’s more, Warner Bros. executives are reportedly “scared to death” of the problem and its potential impact on the film’s box office take. But director Christopher Nolan indicated that he intends to make only minor adjustments to the sound mix before The Dark Knight Rises opens in Summer 2012.As we said in our early review of The Dark Knight Rises prologue, Tom Hardy’s performance captures the menacing physical presence of Bane as seen in his earliest comic book appearances by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, but that even though his voice communicates the character’s sinister personality, the words themselves are often unintelligible through the mask that covers the majority of his face. Everybody who’s written about the film agrees, and Heat Vision reported today that it’s a serious problem as far as Warner Bros. is concerned.
Sources close to the movie say Warner Bros. is very aware of the sound issue. One source working on the film says he is “scared to death” about “the Bane problem.” And with good reason. The last Batman film, 2008’s The Dark Knight, grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, and the studio doesn’t want anything to tamper with Rise’s chances for success.
As such, some executives have urged director Christopher Nolan to ensure that the film’s main villain is comprehensible. The filmmaker has acknowledged that the dialogue may be difficult to understand at times, but told Heat Vision earlier this month that the visuals are meant to help carry the load, “Otherwise it’s just a radio play.” An unnamed studio executive elaborated, saying, “Chris wants the audience to catch up and participate rather than push everything at them. He doesn’t dumb things down. You’ve got to pedal faster to keep up.”
Not dumbing things down is precisely what has made Nolan’s films so successful (creatively and financially), and in defiance of Hollywood’s conventional wisdom, so we’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. The director plans to make slight alterations to the sound mix, but nothing major. We’re big fans of Tom Hardy’s flamboyantly affected Bane accent and the creepy muffled effect of the mask, but it would be nice to catch more of that dialogue on the first listen. Hopefully the “slight’ changes will be all that’s necessary to avoid what could very well be a ceaseless torrent of Batman Voice vs. Bane Voice parody videos.