TUG of War – Battle #1

WHO IS THE BETTER VILLAIN? TDK JOKER OR TDKR BANE?!

Justin: Welcome readers to the first ever TUG of War. This is a new weekly post where the three Gentlemen and YOU all come together into a battle of epic proportions. I’ll give a quick rundown of how it works and then introduce our first battle. So each week we have a new moderator, one of us Gentlemen, and the moderator’s job is the choose the battle. With the battle presented each of us will then have a paragraph or two to choose who we think should win the battle and state our argument why. Afterwards the moderator will announce the winner and then a poll will exist so that you readers can enter the battle as well. We’ll even accept battle ideas in the comment section for any TUG of War posts that are posted in this blog.

I think I summed it up, let’s get this battle going.

We have a few posts discussing The Dark Knight Rises. Obviously we’re all fans of Batman because all three of us Gentlemen are guys. The battle I’d like to present to you two is simple: Who is the Better Villain? TDK Joker or TDKR Bane?

Of course when I say simple, I don’t actually mean simple. I am having a hard time choosing myself because both of them are very strong villains with their own positives and negatives. Luckily, because I am the moderator I don’t have to choose my winner first. So for now, the two other Gentlemen will get to present their arguments and then I’ll come back in and wrap this whole battle up.

It’s safe to assume that there will be spoilers beyond the cut.

Nathan: This is something that has taken me a very long time to come up with an answer too even though it should not have, when it comes down to my final answer it really is quite clear for me who the better villain is. He is my favourite to read about it the Batman comics, he is, to me, the most terrifying of the rouges in Batman’s Rouges Gallery and he is just fun to play around with and get a different and brilliant interpretation of him. So in the end it is very simple to me to answer this question, but when over thinking it, it became very difficult.

The Joker was a villain of pure chaos that just wanted nothing more than to roam around doing whatever he pleased, he had little to no regard for human life and this is a scary thing. He was “like a dog chancing a car, [he] wouldn’t know what to do with one if [he] caught one.” Yes, The Clown Prince of Crime is Batman’s arch nemesis, the one villain he will never truly understand but yet, on a strange level can understand and yes he is very, very important in Bat-lore but that’s not what is at question, the question is who is better TDK Joker or TDKR Bane. In TDK Heath Ledger gave the performance of his career, truly creeping you out all the time, his scar stories where great fun, and no one will ever forget the scene where he pranced away from the hospital in the nurse outfit. The Dark Knight Joker was an amazing villain and an incredibly interesting and well written character.

Bane is, in my opinion, one of the most important characters in the Batman Universe, he showed Bruce Wayne that he was not invincible when he “Broke The Bat” back in the 90’s when he was introduced in Knighfall (read it if you have the time, it’s amazing) and unlike he has been shown in previous movies (Batman and Robin…SO BAD) he is scary smart. He is always there with his armies of men with a plan, he comes to Gotham with goals in mind and he succeeds almost always, but Batman puts him back in his place. Bane to me is the only real threat that Batman has ever had other that Ra’s Al Ghul (comics not the movie). But again we come down to the movie version of Bane, not the comics. Maybe at times Bane was a little hard to understand, I don’t think he was but many others do, maybe he wasn’t a one man operation, but he did everything he set out to do. He was smart, he was patient and he was terrifying. Bane was  a truly terrifying character to me. Not because of his size, but because of how calm he was the whole time. To me a really compelling villain is one who knows that what they are doing is for the greater good, and that was and always will be Bane. Tom Hardy’s performance was amazing, not only did he bulk himself up majorly for the role but he managed to express so much emotion just with his eyes and made me scared of the character, he did everything properly and I would not change one bit, not even the voice.

For me there is no contest, Bane is the better Batman villain, in movies and in comics a well told Bane story beats a well told Joker story for me every time, and that’s exactly what The Dark Knight Rises was, a perfectly told Bane story. He did everything his character is supposed to do while remaining scary. He bided his time in the sewers of Gotham and he waited to strike, he very well could have been there during TDK waiting to strike but still building his forces and everything he set out to do he accomplished. He is the only man who can ever truly compete with The Batman, he is calm and calculating and absolutely brilliant. That is why TDKR Bane is my winner.

Erik: I think it goes without saying that both the Joker and Bane are brilliant villains, and without a doubt this makes it very tough to select one over the other. Both of them also happen to be some of my favorite on screen villains and both characters were incredibly well portrayed by their respective actors. The actors researched their characters very well and even in Tom Hardy’s cased bulked up considerably just to get that hulking Bane physique. I also enjoyed the mannerisms of both characters. Some would argue that Bane’s voice was unclear and questionably British sounding, but I was completely sold on it. Then there was Joker’s incessant  lip-licking which I personally thought was a nice touch. It not only made the Joker look more bat-shit crazy, but it was a subtle way of making the scars on his face look and even feel very real. Not only this, but the entire movie the portrayal of Joker’s unknown past was done incredibly well and definitely left you with that “multiple choice” feeling. Any time his scars were explained it was another brilliantly twisted tale and it always made you cringe a little.

The way Bane carried himself and was emulated made him feel very powerful. This wasn’t just noticeable during the fist fights, but also the way he carried his body in every scene. This precisely is what Bane was meant to be; Batman’s greatest physical threat. I am going to point out here that the classic “break the bat” scene with Bane lifting Batman over his head was just brilliant. I literally jumped out of my seat when it happened because I was very unsure if Bane was actually going to do that on film. This proved Bane’s power ultimately.  Joker on the other hand was incredibly inconsistent, and by no means do I mean that as a negative remark. Joker was all over the map, which truly made Joker feel like the embodiment of chaos. Also, while Bane carried himself like the big man he was he never felt frightening. Bane was a great physical threat, but he wasn’t brilliant. Smart, yes. Brilliant, no. I just was left knowing that I would never want to fight him because his fist would probably feel something along the lines of a brick wall. The real threatening character to me was the Joker. He walked around with little to no care for anything except for chaos. He was insane and that leaves a very unsettling feeling. On top of this he never appeared to be an incredible physical threat. Very slouched posture, and not an overly large person to begin with. Yet one memorable scene proves how threatening he really is physically and all I have to say about that is he made a pencil disappear.

I felt as though Bane was just one of those jacked up gym rats who always walks around checking themselves out in the mirror and talking about how he kicked some guys ass at the club last night, yet whenever put to the test ends up being a real pussy. That’s not quite the case with Bane, but I felt something along those lines was very evident. I would say when put to the test he did utterly destroy Batman in one on one combat with ease, but when it came to it Bane, he never really proved how frightening he was. He spent a lot of time underground all safe and sound and whenever he did make an appearance, there was always a small posse of armed men around. Joker on the other hand would simply waltz right up and do whatever the hell he pleased. Yes, he also favored having a small posse around him, but Joker had balls. He simply walked right into a large meeting of Gotham’s underground crime lords without a care. Also, he crashed Bruce Wayne’s party for Harvey Dent and he just came in the front door it seemed. He had the guts to be right in the action at all times instead of standing back and playing puppet master.

Bane always had a plan that he was working towards. The entire movie Bane was working with people to a greater goal, whereas the Joker created destruction out of chaos. Bane was just a catalyst for Batman that caused him to rise back to former glory and getting better at fist fighting big dudes. Other than that Bane served very little purpose. He did that very well, but that was all he was. Joker as he says it “is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”  I will end this by saying that Joker was an altogether deeper and more thought out character than Bane and will always remain Batman’s greatest villain. Joker has my vote.

Justin: I actually had a hard time with my own battle. To me, both Bane and Joker are great villains, obviously I want to preface this choice by saying that, in my opinion, both of these villains would be a winner in this battle. Of course, this isn’t the point of TUG of War and I must ultimately choose one as the better and maliciously strike down the loser. It wasn’t easy and I had to analyse both of my choices and really scrutinize the details of each of them. After much nitpicking I was able to determine the factor that chose my winner. I feel good about my choice.

Both of the villains have the power going for them. They each succeeded in causing chaos in each of their own respective ways, and both of them succeeded in causing a lot of hell in Gotham. I also can’t really cause a negative strike against either of them because both Bane and Joker had a lot of ‘deus ex machina’ to work in their favour. Each of them were also huge threats for Batman in surprisingly different ways. Bane was a physical threat, I’ll argue against him being a mental threat against Batman however. Yes, he was smart, but all the times he one-upped Batman was merely circumstance of ‘deus ex’ and not so much actual character decision. The Joker represented the threat of the unknown and showcased a better conflict with Batman’s ideals of ‘no-murder’. The fact that he would let someone like The Joker live truly showcases Batman’s commitment to his cause.

Obviously how the villain goes out is also a big positive or negative in their favour for victory here. The Joker had a hauntingly chilling shot of him cackling madly as he swung upside down in Batman’s control. Bane had… well, I think it’s fair to express disappointment as to how his death was handled. This is not the reasoning behind my choice of victor, for that we’ll have to dig deeper into the character’s true goals. Bane had the purpose of ‘breaking the Bat’ completely and thoroughly. He did a pretty good job when he defeated him in the sewer fight and promptly ‘burned Gotham to ashes’, yes, but that’s a victory at the face value, we don’t see much to that. The Joker succeeded in breaking Batman much more than Bane could ever dream. Still, years after the events of The Dark Knight Batman was crying over Rachel’s death. A death directly caused by the influence and chaos of The Joker.

Bane posed a legitimate threat to Batman. As I said earlier, don’t get me wrong I loved both of them, but The Joker is just a stronger threat and a better villain to me. It was a hard choice but really digging deep made it impossible to think otherwise. Bane caused a lot of damage emotionally to me as a viewer, as the entire middle portion of TDKR made me feel really hopeless, but the entirety of TDK made me feel hopeless and on edge any time The Joker was on screen. Heath Ledger gave a great performance, and it’s unfortunate he passed away afterwards. I truly believe he deserves all the praise he gets for the role. I love Tom Hardy too, and he does a phenomenal job as Bane, but for this battle I have to give the edge to The Joker.

So with that we bring our first battle to a close. The final score is…

The Joker: 2
Bane: 1

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the poll below! Otherwise, come join us next Tuesday for another TUG of War!

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