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Latham2000
Latham2000
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Level Two

 Why was Batman defeated by Bane in their first battle in The Dark Knight Rises?  Empty Why was Batman defeated by Bane in their first battle in The Dark Knight Rises?

on July 17th 2020, 1:47 pm
Message reputation : 100% (1 vote)
Reading TDKR novel in conjunction with rewatching the movie made me want to write this. Some people also don't understand how and why Batman was beaten by Bane so badly in their first clash in TDKR, but still managed to win in their rematch in the end of TDKR, so I'm going to be using The Dark Knight Rises novel in conjunction with the movie to explain it. The answer isn't "hur dur because he's Batman!" by the way because we all know that Kevin Conroy is Batman  Why was Batman defeated by Bane in their first battle in The Dark Knight Rises?  2266747095



Spoiler:

"A heavy steel grate slammed down between them, like a portcullis in a medieval fortress. Bright halogen lights flared overhead, exposing a lair hidden deep within the sewers. A small army of mercenaries glared down from various elevated gantries and platforms. The catwalk led between twin waterfalls that poured into a foaming channel one level below. There was some kind of headquarters located beyond the waterfalls—much like in the Batcave.

“Sorry,” Catwoman said from the other side of the grate. “I had to find a way to stop them trying to kill me.”

Batman realized then that she had deliberately lured him into a trap. He was disappointed by her betrayal.

“You’ve made a serious mistake,” he growled.

“Not as serious as yours, I fear,” a deep voice interjected.

Batman turned to see a masked figure emerge from behind the falling curtains of water. He recognized the man’s elaborate mask and powerful physique from the grisly security footage Alfred had shown him before. Muscles rippled upon the killer’s bare chest.

“Bane.”

The infamous mercenary approached him.

“Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.”

Batman wasn’t surprised that Bane knew his true identity. The man was connected to the League of Shadows, after all—he likely had heard of Bruce Wayne’s tangled history with Rā’s al Ghūl.

Catwoman, on the other hand, was visibly taken aback by the revelation. A look of regret came over her face, as though she was having second thoughts about betraying him.

Too late now, he thought. Selina Kyle was the least of his concerns at the moment. Bane was the real threat to Gotham. He murdered those people at the stock exchange—and nearly killed Jim Gordon.

I can’t let him hurt anyone else.

Without hesitation he launched himself toward his enemy. His cloak spreading out behind him, he swooped at Bane, drawing back his fist to deliver a knockout blow. His clenched knuckles flew at Bane, who caught it easily with his bare hand, squeezing it until the bones ground together.

Grunting, Batman attempted a gut punch with his other fist, but the mercenary effortlessly blocked the blow. He had, indeed, been trained by Rā’s al Ghūl and the League of Shadows.

“Peace has cost you your strength,” Bane declared. “Victory has defeated you.”

Stronger and faster than anyone Batman had ever fought before—even in his prime—Bane slammed into Batman, knocking him backward. A roundhouse kick swept his legs out from under him, sending him tumbling off the catwalk toward the raging sewers below. Batman hastily extended his cape, using it to glide down on to a concrete ledge located near the base of the waterfalls. He winced in pain, bruised even beneath his protective armor.

This wasn’t going well…

Bane clambered after him, swinging down on a chain, while his men watched in disciplined silence, enjoying the duel. Hoping to buy some time, Batman plucked a handful of miniature flash-bangs from his Utility Belt and flung them at his pursuer. The charges went off like firecrackers, producing a disorienting barrage of sparks, noise, and smoke.

Yet Bane didn’t even flinch.

“Theatricality and deception are powerful agents,” he acknowledged, quoting the timeless wisdom of Rā’s al Ghūl. “To the uninitiated."

Alfred was right, Batman realized. This man was not to be underestimated. It’s going to take everything I have to beat him—if it’s even possible.

Determined to put Bane on the defensive, Batman lunged at him again, striking out with his fists and boots. Bane effortlessly countered his moves. It was like fighting Rā’s again, except that Bane was younger and stronger than their shared mentor. He targeted the weak spots in Batman’s body armor, inflicting the maximum pain possible, while seeming to possess no weaknesses of his own.

They broke apart, facing off between the flowing channels. Bane looked like he was just warming up.

“But we are the initiated, aren’t we, Bruce? The League of Shadows.” He glared at Batman over the bizarre mask that hid the bottom half of his face. Scorn dripped from his voice. Air hissed from the mask. “And you betrayed us…”

“Us?” Batman echoed. “You were excommunicated—from a gang of psychopaths.”

Bane rejected the accusation.

“Now I am the League of Shadows,” he said, “here to fulfill Rā’s al Ghūl’s destiny…”

By destroying Gotham?

Never, Batman thought. Too many good people— including Rachel and his parents—had worked too hard to make the city a decent place to live. This masked lunatic needed to be stopped—just like the Joker and Rā’s al Ghūl.

He hurled himself at his opponent, knocking him onto his back beneath the foaming waterfall, where Batman hammered his masked face again and again. Clear water cascaded over them, making the Dark Knight’s black armor gleam slickly. Any normal thug would already be out cold, but Bane just absorbed the blows until Batman took a moment to catch his breath.

He let up, just for a moment, and Bane’s brawny arms shot out like rockets, smashing Batman aside.

The mercenary rose to his feet.

“You fight like a younger man,” he said, his voice betraying no hint of the punishment he had received. “Nothing held back. No reserves.” He flexed his own muscles as he advanced. “Admirable. But mistaken.”

Batman was breathing hard. He realized Bane was right. Eight years of retirement had taken its toll on his endurance and reflexes. He wasn’t the same man who had defeated Rā’s al Ghūl nearly a decade ago. That Batman had just begun his career.

A smarter strategy was needed. He flipped a switch on his belt, triggering an EMP that knocked out all the lights, throwing them all into total darkness. Then he retreated into the sheltering blackness. Night-vision lenses in his cowl allowed him to keep an eye on his adversary, who seemed to take the blackout in his stride.

Bane turned slowly, addressing the all-encompassing shadows. He didn’t seem worried.

“You think darkness is your ally,” Bane said. “But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it. Formed by it…”

Moving as silently as a ghost, Batman circled, looking for an opening. There had to be some way to bring the other man down. He just needed to strike when and where Bane least expected. And he needed to make it count.

This could be my last chance.

“I didn’t see light until I was already a man. And by then it was nothing to me but blinding.”

Without warning, Bane lunged backward into the darkness and caught Batman’s throat in his grasp. Only the reinforced neckpiece kept his windpipe from being crushed in an instant.

“The shadows betray you, because they belong to me…”

He slammed Batman into the concrete floor, hard enough to dash any other man’s brains out. His bare fists pounded on Batman’s cowl with unbelievable force, blow after blow smashing down like a jackhammer. Concussed and breathless, Batman couldn’t fight back as Bane hammered on the cowl until finally, incredibly, the hard graphite shell cracked.

No, Batman thought. That’s not possible.

One final blow put him down for the count. Bane rose, towering above his battered foe. He gestured upward at the vaulted ceiling high above the vast subterranean chamber. Through blood-streaked eyes, Batman saw that a series of holes had been drilled into the ceiling. Explosive charges had been placed in each of them.

But why? he wondered through the pain. To what purpose?

“I will show you,” Bane said, “where I’ve made my home while preparing to bring justice to Gotham. Then… I will break you.”

A mercenary tossed a detonator to Bane. His men backed away, seeking shelter in side tunnels and alcoves. Catwoman watched anxiously from the other side of the grate. She covered her ears.

Bane pressed the button.

The charges went off, causing a controlled implosion high above their heads. Thunderous echoes rocked the chamber, hurting Batman’s ears. The ceiling caved in and rubble rained down into the sewers, splashing water everywhere.

Artificial light poured down from above, revealing the lower levels of Applied Sciences.

It can’t be, Batman thought in horror. Then realization struck home. We were under Wayne Tower all this time.

The bottom had dropped out of Lucius Fox’s secret weapons storehouse. Dangerous prototypes lay scattered about like treats from some deadly, high-tech piñata. A tumbler, its desert camouflage of little use in these dismal catacombs, landed atop a pile of rubble. Loose papers and bits of ash wafted down through the jagged gap in the ceiling.

“No,” Batman murmured weakly.

“Your precious armory,” Bane confirmed. “Gratefully accepted.” He swept his gaze over the fallen spoils. “We will need it.”

To wage war on Gotham?

Bane’s men clambered up into the violated bunker. They moved efficiently, ransacking Applied Sciences even as security alarms blared stridently. The mercenaries set up a bucket brigade to hand the stolen goods from each man to the next, down into the tunnels. The other tumblers were hauled toward the gap.

I can’t let this happen, Batman thought. I can’t… He staggered to his feet, swaying unsteadily. His cracked cowl slipped, and he tasted blood in his mouth. His head was swimming. The entire chamber seemed be spinning around him, and he felt sick to his stomach. Through the fog, he recognized the symptoms of a serious concussion.

Nevertheless, he raised his fists.

Bane turned back toward him.

“I wondered which would break first—your spirit…”

Batman threw a punch, but didn’t come close to connecting. Bane lunged forward and lifted his foe high above his head. Batman tried to twist free of the grasp, but could not get away.

He had nothing left.

“… Or your body,” Bane concluded.

Savagely, Bane brought Batman down onto his knee, forcibly bending the Dark Knight’s spine backward. A horrific crack echoed throughout the lair.

Catwoman gasped out loud.

At that, Bane dumped Batman onto the ground, to lie helplessly in the puddles. He crouched and tugged the cracked cowl off his victim, exposing the battered and bloody face of Bruce Wayne. Then he beckoned to his men, who picked up the limp, unresisting body and carried it off into the tunnels. Bane held onto the cowl as a trophy."
— The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

First and foremost, I'll start with the fact that Bruce was suffering from a lot of problems with his physical conditioning. Bruce as of TDKR, is a shell of his former self in terms of physical conditioning because he lacks the youthful attributes that his younger self had in Batman Begins circa 2007 and The Dark Knight circa 2008. Bruce as of those two movies was only 29-31 years old. TDKR however, takes place in 2016 because it starts 8 years after Batman's last public sighting i.e. end of TDK circa 2008. So Bruce as of TDKR is 39 years old, pushing 40, he's getting pretty old. A 29-31 year old man is much closer to being in the prime of his youth than a 39 year old man because the cardiovascular system for instance, doesn't function as efficiently because the structures of the heart become more rigid as you get older.

But age in itself was not the only problem for Bruce; Bruce is also badly out of shape because he's been through an 8 year hiatus, a hiatus where he hasn't been exercising to keep himself in shape, but had just been a recluse in Wayne Manor, relying on a cane for his bad leg, while his body just atrophied. He was suffering the consequences of the constant wear and tear that he subjected his body to in his career as Batman:

Doctor: I've seen worse cartilage in knees.

Bruce:
That's good.

Doctor: No, that's because there is no cartilage in your knee, and not much of any use in your elbows or your shoulders. Between that and the scar tissue on your kidneys, the residual concussive damage to your brain tissue, and the general scarred-over quality of your body, I cannot recommend that you go heliskiing, Mr. Wayne.


Source — The Dark Knight Rises.



Spoiler:

“I’ve seen worse cartilage in knees,” the doctor commented, examining an X-ray.

Bruce sat on an examination table in Gotham General Hospital. It was already dark outside, but Alfred had managed to arrange an after-hours appointment. The Wayne name still opened doors in Gotham, no matter what the latest financial reports said.

“That’s good,” Bruce responded absently, only half-listening. He had other things on his mind.

“Not really,” the doctor said. “That’s because there is no cartilage in your knee. And not much of any use in your elbows and shoulders. Between that and the scar tissue on your kidneys, residual concussive damage to your brain tissue, and the general scarred-over quality of your body, I simply cannot recommend that you go heli-skiing.” He tsked at the map of old scars criss-crossing Bruce’s bare back and chest. “About the only part of your body that looks healthy is your liver, so if you’re bored, I recommend you take up drinking, Mr. Wayne.”

“I’ll take that under advisement, doctor.” — The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

He has concussive brain damage, has no cartilage in his knees, barely any cartilage left in his elbows and shoulders, has scar tissue on his kidneys and scars all over his internal body components. This obviously has something to do to with his experiences of crime fighting taking a toll on his body e.g. falling onto a car after being set on fire by Scarecrow, falling off a building in the middle of a fight with ninjas, falling onto a car with Rachel, getting stabbed by the Joker twice, his fall at the end of TDK making him limp and so on. Simply being repeatedly hit in the head alone will cause long term brain damage, that's why so many people playing American football, ice hockey and rugby for example are documented with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and Batman puts himself in far more dangerous situations than mere sports, which adds further insult to injury. Not to mention, his muscle memory of the League of Shadows training would also be lagging because he's stopped training for 8 years, so he's out of shape and out of practise. Both Alfred and Bane point out how Bruce is a mere shell of his former self:

Bruce: Bane was a member of the League of Shadows?

Alfred: And then he was excommunicated. And any man who is too extreme for Ra's Al Ghul is not to be trifled with.

Bruce: I didn't realize I was known for "trifling" with criminals.

Alfred: That was then. And you can strap up your leg and put your mask back on, but that doesn't make you what you were.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises
.

Alfred: You see only one end to your journey. Leaving is all I have to make you understand, you're not Batman anymore. You have to find another way. You used to talk about finishing, about a life beyond that awful cave.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

Bane: Peace has costed you your strength. Victory has defeated you.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

Bane: You fight like a younger man, nothing held back. Admirable, but mistaken.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

The last statement from Bane is especially telling, because Batman in his first fight with Bane fights as though he's still got the stamina of younger man (i.e. his BB/TDK self) by aggressively, but recklessly unleashing everything he has by blindly bull rushing Bane, putting no thought into conserving his energy for the long run, so he exhausts himself out remarkably quickly. TDKR novel reinforces this:

Spoiler:

"He hurled himself at his opponent, knocking him onto his back beneath the foaming waterfall, where Batman hammered his masked face again and again. Clear water cascaded over them, making the Dark Knight’s black armor gleam slickly. Any normal thug would already be out cold, but Bane just absorbed the blows until Batman took a moment to catch his breath.

He let up, just for a moment, and Bane’s brawny arms shot out like rockets, smashing Batman aside.

The mercenary rose to his feet.

You fight like a younger man,” he said, his voice betraying no hint of the punishment he had received. “
Nothing held back. No reserves.” He flexed his own muscles as he advanced. “Admirable. But mistaken.

Batman was breathing hard. He realized Bane was right. Eight years of retirement had taken its toll on his endurance and reflexes. He wasn’t the same man who had defeated Rā’s al Ghūl nearly a decade ago. That Batman had just begun his career."
— The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

What's interesting about how the novel conveys this is that it states that Batman "took a moment to catch his breath" and "let up, just for a moment," giving Bane the opportunity to knock Batman aside, and then Bane points out that that Batman is admirable, but mistaken for fighting like he's like a younger man with nothing held back and whatnot. Batman in response, is "breathing hard" which is more evidence that Bane is right because he has exhausted himself, and the OOU narrator of the novel reinforces all this by saying Batman "realized Bane was right" and expands upon that by saying that 8 years of retirement "had taken its toll" on his "endurance and reflexes" and to top that off, the novel says that Batman "wasn't the same man who had defeated Rā’s al Ghūl nearly a decade ago" because "That Batman had just begun his career." What's even more interesting is that the last two sentences make a direct comparison between TDKR Batman to the Batman "who had defeated Rā’s al Ghūl nearly a decade ago" and the "Batman had just begun his career" i.e. it's a comparison between TDKR Batman to Batman Begins Batman, because Batman Begins is blatantly obviously the movie where Bruce defeated Rā’s al Ghūl and had begun his career as Batman.

To put this more simply, TDKR Batman is far weaker than BB Batman because of inferior reflexes and endurance induced by 8 years of inactivity. It's also worth mentioning that TDKR Batman is wearing a different batsuit than BB Batman, the batsuit that Bruce wears in TDKR carries less weight than the batsuit that Bruce wore in BB, TDKR Batman's batsuit was designed to allow him to be lighter, faster and more agile than his previous batsuit, whilst also allowing him to be able to turn his neck independently of his torso. But despite all this, TDKR Batman's reflexes in combat context are not on par with BB Batman's reflexes, reflexes in combat context are fighting speed and reaction time, which means that Batman's reflexes had declined so much over the preceding 8 years of inactivity that the personalized functions of TDKR Batman's batsuit i.e. being lighter and being able to turn his neck independently of his torso, just weren't good enough to compensate for how badly Batman's combat reflexes had declined. This puts BB Batman above TDKR Batman in terms of fighting speed and reaction time. So yeah, Batman was so badly out of shape that even wearing a much lighter and more flexible armor that allows him to turn his neck independently of his torso in contrast to his previous armor, just wasn't good enough for him to have as good reflexes of a version of Batman who wears a much heavier armor that doesn't allow him to able to turn his neck independently of his torso. The text also mentions Batman's endurance declining in conjunction with his reflexes due to the preceding 8 years of inactivity, which means that BB Batman has better stamina and durability than TDKR Batman, ergo BB Batman would just longer in a fight with Bane without being fatigued, and would also be able to withstand more punishment from Bane.

And keep in mind how the last two sentences do not make any kind of comparison between TDKR Batman to TDK Batman in any shape or form by saying something like "He wasn’t the same man who had battled the Joker and outwitted a swat team nearly a decade ago. That Batman had been active in the war against crime" for example, but rather makes a comparison between BB Batman and TDKR Batman which suggests that Batman was at his peak in Batman Begins rather than The Dark Knight when putting the text into perspective, which makes sense in the light of his feats given that he has better feats in Batman Begins than he does in The Dark Knight.

And that's just his physical conditoning. Batman also had a huge problem with his psyche, which was that he no longer feared death. Bruce no longer fears death he because he has fallen into the depths of depression over losing Rachel, losing Harvey Dent's sanity to the Joker and his failures of helping Gotham as Bruce Wayne, which causes him to stop caring about death, so he's subconsciously suicidal. Throughout the film, Bruce goes through a character arc where he relearns how to use fear to empower himself, specifically the fear of death. Batman was complacent and overconfident in his first clash with Bane because he had a death wish. Alfred, Bane and the blind prisoner in the pit recognise Bruce's non-existent fear of death:

Bruce: You're afraid that if I go back out there, I'll fail.

Alfred: No, I'm afraid... That you want to.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

Bruce: Why didn't you just... Kill me?  

Bane: You don't fear death, you welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe.

Bruce: Torture?

Bane: Yes. But not of your body... Of your soul.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

Blind doctor: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.

Bruce:
Why?

Doctor:
How can you move faster then possible, fight longer then possible, without the most powerful impulse of the spirit? The fear of death.


Source — The Dark Knight Rises
.

TDKR novel fleshes this out further, such as the scene that Alfred says that he's afraid that Bruce wants to fail:

Spoiler:

"Bane was a member of the League of Shadows.”

“Until he was excommunicated,” Alfred said. “And a man considered too extreme for Rā’s al Ghūl is not to be trifled with.”

But Bruce refused to be intimidated.

“I didn’t know I was known for ‘trifling’ with criminals.”

That was then,” Alfred said gravely. “And you can put the cowl back on, but it won’t make you what you were.

"Which was?”

Someone whose anger at death made him value all life,” the servant replied. “Even his own.

My own life doesn’t matter,
Bruce thought. Then he spoke. “If this Bane is all the things you say he is, then this city needs me.

“Yes,” Alfred seemed to agree. “Gotham needs Bruce Wayne. Your resources, your knowledge. Not your body—not your life. That time has passed.”

“I tried helping as Bruce Wayne,” the billionaire protested. “And I failed.”

Just ask Miranda Tate, he thought. But Alfred did not give in.“

You can fail as Bruce Wayne,” he said. “As Batman, you can’t afford to.”

“Is that what you’re afraid of?” Bruce asked indignantly. “That if I go back out there, I’ll fail?”

“No,” Alfred said. “I’m afraid you want to.”
— The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

Just like in the movie, Alfred said that Bruce can put the batsuit back on, but it still won't make him what he once was, Bruce asks what Alfred meant, and Alfred's answer was Bruce's anger at death that made him value all life, including his own. Bruce in his internal thoughts shrugs it off, thinking that his own life doesn't matter. Alfred is talking specifically about Bruce's anger at death for taking his parents' lives, his anger at the criminal underworld for taking his parents away from him, his anger at the criminal underworld for taking the lives of innocent Gotham inhabitants to inculcate fear into others. A very fundamental part of what made Bruce become Batman in the first place was his anger towards Gotham's criminal underworld because a common thug named Joe Chill murdered his parents in front of him when he was only 8 years old. As Batman, Bruce was driven by fear and anger towards Gotham's criminal underworld. There's another instance in the novel of Alfred calling Bruce out on his self destructive mental state:

Spoiler:

“You thought I didn’t have it in me anymore,” Bruce said.

Alfred returned the cape and cowl to the closet where they belonged. He wished he could lock them away for good.


You don’t,” he said. “You led a bloated, overconfident police force on a merry chase with some fancy new toys from Fox.” He called Bruce’s attention to the ghastly security footage on the main monitor. “What about when you come up against him. What then?”

On the screen, Bane murdered a roomful of security guards with terrifying speed and brutality. His lethally effective fighting technique was eerily similar to Batman’s, but much more final. Bruce’s jaw tightened as he contemplated the footage.

“I’ll fight harder,” he said. “Like I always have.”


When you had something to fight for, Alfred argued. “What are you fighting for now? Not your life.

Bruce frowned and moved to switch off the screen. Alfred stopped him." — The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

Alfred's dialogue about Bruce's anger at death and lack of conviction to fight for his life aren't included in the movie, they're only in the novel, but that's because one of the functions of novel adaptations of movies is to flesh out what's in the movie because movies can't spell everything out for us.

So not only is Bruce out of shape and out of practise, but he is also subconsciously suicidal. He's lost a specific source of power that was once his driving force as Batman.

Fear.

The fear of death.

Throughout his imprisonment in the pit, Bruce's back is eventually healed, when that happens he starts training his body in vigorous exercises so that he can finally get back in shape, doing pull ups and push ups.



TDKR novel expands upon this:

Spoiler:

"The European cautiously untied the rope, ready to catch Bruce if he fell.

The delirium had passed, taking the ghosts with it, and Bruce could think clearly again. But that wasn’t enough. He had to know if he was still broken.

Bracing himself for the pain, he took a deep breath and placed his weight upon his bare feet.

A wave of dizziness assailed him, and he tottered slightly, but the light-headedness was only momentary and he steadied himself. His legs felt weak and rubbery from disuse, but at least he was standing on his own power again. His bad knee still bothered him, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him.

“That’s enough for today,” his caretaker said anxiously. He came forward to offer assistance. “You should rest.”

Bruce shook his head. He had rested enough already. Gotham needed him.

He took a step forward.

And another.

Days passed as Bruce rebuilt his body. His caretaker watched in wonder as Bruce did pushups against the floor of his cell, working until sweat dripped from his pale, unshaven face. Breathing hard, he pushed himself to his limits—and beyond. His back still ached, but it was bearable now, and getting better over time. Or so he wanted to think.

He paused for a moment before trying for another fifty reps.

The European sat on a bench a few feet away. He watched Bruce with a puzzled expression. “Why build yourself?”

Bruce pushed himself up off the floor again.

“I’m not meant to die here.”

The decrepit television set played in the background. A caption running beneath the latest news coverage read, “SIEGE OF GOTHAM: DAY 84.”

"Here? There?” The older prisoner indicated the TV screen. “What’s the difference?”

Bruce ignored the man’s fatalistic attitude. That was the pit talking. He couldn’t afford to let his spirit weaken, even for a moment. He had work to do.

So he pushed himself ever harder.

One…two…three…

Finally, it was time to climb for the sun.

Bruce emerged from his cell and walked out to the base of the colossal shaft that led to the surface. Glancing down, he saw that a large pool of stagnant green water waited at the bottom of the pit. Greasy scum floated on top of the pool. Inmates waded through the water, which did not appear nearly deep enough to cushion a fall, at least not from a great height.

He lifted his gaze. He intended to go up, not down.

The tattooed prisoner wrapped the safety rope around Bruce’s chest, as he had for that other climber, months earlier. A crowd of curious prisoners gathered to watch, the European among them. Money changed hands as the inmates wagered on how high Bruce might get. He stared up at the distant sunlight, hundreds of feet above his head. Then he approached the wall.

If Bane can do it, so can I."
— The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

Spoiler:

"Barbaric images flickered upon the television screen. A headline crawled along the bottom of the report.

SPECIAL FORCES BODIES HANG IN THE CABLES OF GOTHAM BRIDGE


Bruce stared in horror at the corpses strung up on the bridge as a warning. Bloody flags were wrapped around their bodies, looking like shrouds. It was something out of the Dark Ages—not a modern American city. Not Gotham.


Furious, he hurled a rock at the screen. It exploded in an eruption of sparks and broken plastic.


What is Bane doing to my city?


The knowledge that such atrocities were transforming Gotham drove Bruce to accelerate his already-brutal exercise regime. Endless pushups, squats, and stretches filled his every waking hour until he barely remembered to eat or sleep. It was as if the League of Shadows was training him, all over again. One cell over, the blind doctor listened to Bruce’s exertions. He spoke out in his obscure dialect.


“He says the leap to freedom is not about strength,” the European translated.


Bruce disagreed. He shadow-boxed inside his cell, throwing punches and kicks at the empty air.


“My body makes the jump.”


“Survival is the spirit,” the blind man said, surprising Bruce by speaking in broken English. His accent was thick, but his meaning came through, more or less. “The soul.”


“My soul’s as ready to escape as my body,” Bruce insisted. Maybe more so.


The blind man shook his head.


“Fear is why you fail.”

“I’m not afraid,” Bruce countered. “I’m angry.” He punched the air, imagining Bane’s ugly face before him. He visualized that grotesque black mask cracking beneath his knuckles, the same way Bane had cracked Batman’s cowl. He couldn’t wait to get even.

Soon, he promised himself." — The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

The novel states that Bruce "rebuilt his body" by doing pushups, "working until sweat dripped from his pale, unshaven face" and "pushed himself to his limits—and beyond" and "paused for a moment before trying for another fifty reps" and "pushed himself ever harder" but later decided to "accelerate his already-brutal exercise regime" with "endless pushups, squats, and stretches filled his every waking hour until he barely remembered to eat or sleep" and even describes it as "It was as if the League of Shadows was training him, all over again" which says a lot of how hard Bruce trained his body to get back in shape. Bruce was that motivated to get back in shape that he threw punches and kicks at empty air whilst imagining that Bane's face was his target. The novel also states that after making the climb to freedom, Bruce "looked as if he had been working out like an Olympic athlete" which suggests that he was in peak physical conditioning, at least for his age:

Spoiler:

"Bruce bounded up the stairs, while Fox huffed and puffed behind him. After sneaking around Gotham all day, he was definitely feeling his age, unlike Bruce, who looked as if he had been working out like an Olympic athlete. A fresh leg brace, recovered from the bunker, meant he didn’t need to worry about his bum knee anymore, either." — The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

But it wasn't the fact that Bruce got back in shape that led to him escaping the pit. Bruce also relearned how to use fear to empower himself:

Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.

Bruce: Why?

Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death?

Bruce: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there’s no one there to save it.

Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.

Bruce Wayne: [laughs] How?

Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

Source — The Dark Knight Rises.

This is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire trilogy because it sums up the source of Batman’s power: Fear.

Bruce Wayne is afraid of bats, he decides to harness his fear and use it as a weapon. He witnessed his parents’ murder and has the fear that another child will experience the same trauma as he did, so he harnesses that fear into a symbol for justice in the form of the Batman. Everything he does is motivated by his fear, not just anger. The Bruce Wayne we see in The Dark Knight Rises is a shell of the man he used to be, he has forgotten the true source of where his power came from because he is subconsciously suicidal. When he becomes Batman again, he blindly rushes into a fight with Bane that he’s ill-prepared for and after losing that fight, he asks Bane why he didn’t just kill him, Bane's answer is Bruce's non-existent fear of death.

Throughout his imprisonment in the pit, the blind prisoner has been trying to explain to Bruce that the climb to freedom isn’t about physical strength, but rather the strength of the spirit. Bruce dismisses this, believing that if a child could make this climb, then there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to. On his third attempt, Bruce listens to the blind prisoner and changes his strategy to the same strategy that the child used. Prior to this, Bruce had attempted the leap to freedom with a safety rope to keep him from falling to his death in case he fails to successfully make the leap, so he didn't have to fear falling to his death. In his third and final attempt, he decides to go without the rope, with no option but to succeed, thereby having the fear of falling to his death and the fear of having no chance to return to his city to save it from destruction. Bruce's fear is renewed as his strength and he successfully makes it across the chasm. But it's not just the fear of death and destruction of his city that motivates Bruce, his fear of bats also returns:

 Why was Batman defeated by Bane in their first battle in The Dark Knight Rises?  7469042-2916036041-ezgif

TDKR novel describes Bruce's third attempt at the climb quite beautifully:

Spoiler:

"Only eight years old, Bruce lay at the bottom of the abandoned well. His arm throbbed as though broken. Frightened and in pain, the frenzied flapping of the bats still echoing in his mind, he watched anxiously as his father descended on a rope to rescue him. Thomas Wayne hurried to comfort his son.

“And why do we fall?” he asked.

Bruce knew the answer. Had known it his entire life.

“To learn to pick ourselves up.”

Bruce awoke on his cot, no longer a child, but trapped once again at the bottom of a pit. This time his father would not be coming to rescue him. He would have to save himself.

But how?

The blind doctor sat beside the cot. He cleared his throat to get Bruce’s attention.

“You do not fear death,” he said. “You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.”

Bruce didn’t understand. He had always fought to overcome his fear.

“Why?” he asked.

“How can you move faster than possible,” the other man asked, “fight longer than possible, if not from the most powerful impulse of the spirit? The fear of death. The will to survive.”

Self-preservation, Bruce realized. He got up on his elbow, ignoring the latest battery of aches and bruises.

“I do fear death,” he said. “I fear dying in here while my city burns with no one there to save it.”

“Then make the climb,” the blind man said.

I’ve already tried that, Bruce thought. Twice.

“How?” he asked.

“As the child did. Without the rope.” The blind man cackled. “Then fear will find you again.”

Bruce pondered the doctor’s words all night, weighing the risks, before finally reaching a decision. Early next morning, he prepared for what was bound to be his final ascent, one way or another. He tucked a few scraps of bread into a rough wool coat, which he then folded into a makeshift shoulder pack.

The European watched him pack.

“Supplies for your journey?” he asked derisively. Nearby prisoners laughed as Bruce marched toward the cliff face yet again, this time decked out as if he actually expected to reach the top. His caretaker followed after him, intrigued by Bruce’s new demeanor. At the foot of the climb, the tattooed man offered Bruce the safety rope.

Bruce shook his head, and waved it off.

Not this time.

That did it. Word rapidly spread that the crazy American had refused the rope. A crowd gathered to watch the literally death-defying ascent. Carefully, methodically, relying less on raw fury than before, he climbed the treacherous rock face. He tested each bulge and crack, unwilling to throw away his life through carelessness or impatience.

The familiar chanting began anew.

He never wanted to hear it again.

For the last time, he approached the fatal jump. As he hoisted himself onto the ledge, he startled a nest of bats roosting beneath it. They exploded from the side of the cliff in a flurry of leathery wings that momentarily transported him back to that abandoned well, so many years ago. The bats screeched in his ears, buffeting his face and body, threatening to dislodge him. His heart pounded wildly.

A long-buried fear came flapping out of his past.


Good, Bruce thought.

The bats circled up to the opening, like an omen. Bruce caught his breath, walked to the edge of the precipice, and gazed down, reminding himself how far there was to fall this time. Wide-eyed prisoners stared up at him, waiting for him to plunge to his death. The chanting grew louder and more insistent. His mouth went dry.

This is it, Bruce thought. All or nothing.

Fearing for his life, but fearing for Gotham more, Bruce contemplated the awful drop a final time, then jumped for the sun.

A hush fell over the pit as the entire prison population watched in suspense. Time seemed to skip a beat. Blood rushed in Bruce’s ears like the flight of the bats. He reached out with both hands…

And caught hold of the ledge above.

Wild cheers erupted from the pit as he pulled himself up onto the next ledge. The ancient stone was rough and weathered, but held fast beneath his weight. Hundreds of feet below, he heard the European laugh in disbelief. Looking down, he saw him hug the tattooed man in celebration.

The blind doctor nodded.

The morning sun beat down on Bruce as he climbed the last few feet to freedom. He peered warily over the edge of the pit and was greeted by a vast, desolate landscape. No guards were stationed at the mouth of the pit—it would have been considered a waste of manpower. With any luck, Bane wouldn’t even hear that he had escaped.

A huge, forgotten stone fortress, its imposing walls and towers showing the ravages of time, loomed over the pit. Rocky hills beckoned in the distance. An arid desert stretched for miles in every direction.

He had a long hike before him.

But first he found a thick coil of rope that was attached to the base of an ancient stone wall. It was used to lower new prisoners—and the occasional supplies—into the pit, then drawn up afterwards. He unwound the rope and tossed its free end down into the hole.

Free yourselves, he thought. I need to get moving.

He shouldered his pack and started walking." — The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

After Bruce successfully makes the climb to freedom and returns to Gotham, he has a rematch with Bane, but unlike last time, Batman wins this rematch, because he's in much better physical shape, but also because he is fighting with far more conviction and determination:



Spoiler:

"Bane waded through the battle, searching for his true enemy. Thousands of men and women grappled around him, fighting for control of a city that would soon be nothing but a radioactive crater. Random bodies got in his way, and he brutally knocked them aside, using his fists, elbows, knees, and boots to clear a path through the overwhelming melee. Finesse wasn’t an issue—he cared only about results, and removing any obstacles as quickly possible.

A uniformed officer, exchanging blows with an escaped murderer, had the misfortune to block Bane’s path. The masked giant snapped the cop’s neck with a single blow, then casually tossed him out of the way. He trampled over fallen bodies, both alive and otherwise. His eyes scanned the battlefield, looking for the only foe who mattered.

Where is he? Bane thought impatiently. Where is Batman?

He spotted a swirling black figure moving toward him, cutting a swath through raging mercenaries and rebels. Battered bodies fell by the wayside, thrown about by an armored figure whose own fists and boots never stopped moving, striking out with ruthless speed and precision. Bane recognized the modified fighting techniques of the League of Shadows. It angered him to see Rā’s al Ghūl’s lessons corrupted so.

But that is why Wayne can never win, he thought grimly. He lacks the will to do what is truly necessary.

Batman tossed a nameless hoodlum over his shoulder. He elbowed another attacker in the gut, while kicking a third opponent in the jaw with a steel-toed boot. A space cleared between him and Bane so that they came to face to face once again. They confronted each other across the blood-stained snow.

“You came back,” Bane said. “To die with your city.”

“No,” Batman said. “I came back to stop you.”

Unlikely
, Bane thought. He had intended for Wayne to watch helplessly from afar as Gotham met its doom, but it seemed Batman was destined to perish on the same day as his city—at the hands of Rā’s al Ghūl’s true heir.

Perhaps it is better this way.

Seeing no point in further banter, he lunged, throwing powerful blows at the Dark Knight’s cowl. He had smashed that ridiculous disguise before, and this time he would not stop until Wayne’s unworthy skull was shattered, as well. He would soon claim another broken cowl as a trophy.

Batman fought back smartly, less recklessly than he had in the sewers. He ducked and weaved, evading the worst of Bane’s blows, while throwing surgical jabs and strikes at Bane’s sides. A rabbit punch to his solar plexus was followed almost instantly by an elbow to his ribs. Bane absorbed the blows stoically. He was no stranger to pain.

His mask filled his lungs with anesthetic gas.

It would take more than a few hits to keep him from his destiny.

They fought in the middle of the street, surrounded on all sides by the sprawling conflict. Bane found himself impressed by Batman’s skill and stamina, especially considering all that Bane had already done to him. No ordinary foe could have escaped the pit— as Wayne must have done. He saw now what Rā’s al Ghūl had seen in this man so many years ago.

But Bane had come too far to be cheated of his ultimate victory. Both Batman and Gotham would die today.

He parried Batman’s attack, then drove the caped hero back with a rapid-fire series of kicks and punches. The Dark Knight retreated onto the steps, deflecting the mercenary’s attacks with his gauntlets and armor. Bane’s steel-toed boots and bare knuckles smacked against his opponent’s body armor, aiming for the joints and weak spots.

He managed to get his hands around Batman’s neck, trying to snap it, but Wayne broke his hold by clasping his own hands together and delivering an upward thrust that drove Bane’s arms apart and away. Even so, Batman staggered backward—he was on the defensive now, losing ground.

Bane clenched his fists, tensed, and threw another kick.

It was only a matter of time.

He lifted his eyes to the building he had claimed. High above them, framed in a top-floor window at City Hall, a dark-haired woman gazed down on the battle with a concerned expression on her lovely face.

Good, Bane thought. Let her watch the Dark Knight fall once more.

[...]

The battle raged on in the streets. Cops fought with cons and mercs, vying for control of Gotham, while Batman and Bane remained locked in combat on the steps of City Hall. Both men were intent on victory.

Defeat was unthinkable.

Batman hurled rapid-fire punches and kicks at Bane, delivering them with every ounce of strength and skill he could muster. He didn’t bother with threats or tricks or theatrics. Bane knew all the secrets of the League of Shadows. He wouldn’t be intimidated by the ominous guise of the Batman, either—and he would not stop until he had broken his foe again. One way or another, this would be their final contest.
 
But I’m fighting for Gotham, Batman thought. I’m fighting for life.

That would have to be enough.

A blinding-fast volley of strikes drove Bane back. Batman lunged to press his advantage, only to have a camo-colored tumbler roar between them, momentarily cutting him off. Snarling, Batman dodged around the armored vehicle and launched himself at Bane, who stood before City Hall’s wide front doors, looking as though he owned the place.

Not in my town, Batman thought. Not any more.

He slammed into his foe, smashing him backward through the doors and into the building’s elegant lobby. He landed on top as they crashed to the floor. Without letting up for a minute, he pounded Bane against the marble tiles, all the while remaining aware of his surroundings.

Batman spotted Miranda standing a few yards away, surrounded by a small cadre of mercenaries. She appeared unharmed, at least for the moment. But no one would be safe until Bane was put down—and the bomb was disabled.

Miranda’s captors surged forward, coming to Bane’s aid. There were too many of them, all heavily armed.

“Stay back,” Bane ordered. “He is mine—’’

Gathering himself, he threw his opponent off and sprang to his feet. Closing in, he hammered away at Batman’s head with his fists, as though determined to shatter the cowl once more. Given time, he might even have succeeded, but Batman went after Bane’s own mask first. The blades on his forearm ripped across the breathing tubes that connected it to the tanks. The medicinal odor of the anesthetic spilled into the air.

The effect was immediate. Without the gas to keep his pain at bay, Bane bellowed in agony. He reached for the mask, but Batman dropped him to the floor, where the anguished terrorist thrashed violently, unable to defend himself against the excruciating torment. Batman clamped a hand around his throat, holding him down, while using his free hand to search Bane’s vest and pockets.

“Give me the trigger!” Batman growled. He knew it had to be on Bane’s person somewhere. “You’d never give it to an ordinary citizen—’’

Bane stared up at him through pain-soaked eyes. His wild convulsions calmed as he seemed to surrender to the pain. He gasped through his broken mask."
— The Dark Knight Rises Novel.

The novel's description is quite interesting. When they begin their rematch, the novel says that Batman "fought back smartly, less recklessly than he had in the sewers" which suggests that this time, Batman put more thought into conserving his energy because he knows that he hasn't got the stamina of a younger man anymore, as opposed to how he quickly got exhausted by blindly using brute force to pummel Bane into submission in their previous battle. The novel expands upon this by saying Batman "ducked and weaved, evading the worst of Bane's blows, while throwing surgical jabs and strikes at Bane's sides" and delivered "a rabbit punch to his solar plexus was followed instantly by an elbow to his ribs" i.e. Batman takes a more measured and cautious approach by dodging Bane's attacks, whilst in turn using finesse to target vulnerable spots in Bane's body, as opposed how he exhausted himself by using brute force to pummel Bane into submission in their previous clash. Although Bane "absorbed the blows stoicly" since he was "no stranger to pain" he still "found himself impressed with Batman's skill and stamina, especially considering all that Bane had already done to him" and realised that Batman was "no ordinary foe" because he escaped the pit and "saw now Rā’s al Ghūl had seen in this man so many years ago" which is a far cry from how utterly unimpressed he was with Batman in their previous battle, where he effortlessly demolished him and broke his back.

But it wasn't just the fact that Batman used a more efficient tactic that afforded him a victory, it was also the fact that he was fighting with more more conviction and determination. In their previous battle, he was basically asking Bane to put him out of his misery and end his life. But not this time - this time, Batman was "fighting for Gotham," Batman was "fighting for life," he was fighting for the 12 million souls of the city of Gotham that stood between him and Bane, and there was no way Batman was going to let Bane turn Gotham into a crater, especially when he saw how Bane "stood before City Hall's wide front doors, looking as if he owned the place" which only served to infuriate Batman even further and proceed to beating the living shit out of Bane. The rest of the novel speaks for itself.

Granted, the novel's description of Batman's rematch with Bane contradicts the choreography of their rematch in the movie quite significantly, but it's only the choreography that has been contradicted by the movie, that's it. Not to mention, Batman and Bane fight off screen for a total of 70 seconds, so it's perfectly plausible that Batman "ducked and weaved, evading the worst of Bane's blows, while throwing surgical jabs and strikes at Bane's sides" and delivered "a rabbit punch to his solar plexus was followed instantly by an elbow to his ribs" whilst they fought off screen, but the subtext more importantly - which is that Batman puts up a much better fight against Bane as a result of being in much better shape, being much more motivated and determined - isn't at odds with the movie because the movie doesn't tell us what Batman’s internal thoughts are, especially when Batman gains the upper hand shortly before even cutting the tubes of Bane's mask:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqKkbpcuFbI&feature=youtu.be&t=39

So yeah, either way, Bane got his ass kicked when Batman decided to put his hand down by fighting with actual conviction in both the movie and novel.

And before I finish, I'd like to add that Bane defeated Batman in their first clash by breaking his back and whatnot, was influenced by Batman Volume 1 Issue 497 not just because Bane breaks Batman's back in that story, but also because he defeated a Batman who wasn't at full strength to begin with because he was physically and mentally exhausted due to recently dedicating months of his time putting away all the escaped supervillains from Arkham Asylum, he was that exhausted from those gruelling tasks that he was subconsciously suicidal during his clash with Bane in Wayne Manor.
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