One last chance
Okay fandom. One last chance.
When M. Night cast white protagonists in his adaptation of Avatar: the Last Airbender, a lot of people got angry about that. And when a blonde white girl got cast as Katniss, I got plenty of articles on my dash about how a white Katniss undermines the central theme of oppression in The Hunger Games. I’ve seen at least one or two posts talking about the fact that GRRM Martin laces his depictions of POCs with all sorts of unfortunate implications and how all-white depictions of medieval Europe are actually historically inaccurate. So how have I had to actively seek out anyone willing to talk about the fact that Christopher Nolan cast a pasty British guy as a Latino character? How is practically NO ONE talking about this?
I mean, plenty of “fans” got their undies in a twist when a movie featuring a magical hammer, an eight-legged horse and a bridge made of rainbows cast a black man as a god. And you can find plenty of dumbasses writing detailed comments about how a black kid couldn’t possibly be bitten by a radioactive spider and become a superhero. So why not get mad about this, about changing something that is so central to the character?
I’ve been posting and ranting about this for a while and I haven’t even gotten any hatemail! WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS?
So this is the last time I’m ever going to complain about it. Ever. The Dark Knight Rises comes out tomorrow. The critics will love it and it’ll make a shit ton of money and it will be the defining hero movie of our generation, blah, blah, blah. Tom Hardy will be fantastic in the role. Whatever.
Here’s a repost of a response I gave to the only other person on Tumblr who wondered why Nolan couldn’t be bothered to audition actual Latino men for the role of Bane. Just one last gasp of caring about this. And then I give up.
Christopher Nolan films have a very uniform look and feel to them.
- They’re dark and intense studies of some intellectual theme. He’s labelled the themes of his Batman trilogy as Fear (Batman Begins), Chaos (The Dark Knight) and Pain (The Dark Knight Rises).
- His films deal with obsession and the effects it has on the psyche: Leonard finding his wife’s killer (Memento), Dormer catching a girl’s killer (Insomnia), Batman’s crusade for justice (Batman Begins), Borden and Angier’s rivalry (The Prestige), the Joker’s obsession with chaos and irredeemable humanity (The Dark Knight), and Cobb’s guilt over his wife’s suicide (Inception).
- A dead woman, most often a wife figure, is often the catalyst for events in his films: Leonard’s dead wife (Memento), Borden’s accidental killing of Angier’s wife and Borden’s wife’s suicide (The Prestige), Rachel Dawes, the object of Bruce’s affections and 10-second-fiancee of Harvey (The Dark Knight), and Cobb’s wife’s suicide and his subconscious’s rendering of her (Inception).
- His protagonists are all well-dressed white men. I don’t think it’s even something he thinks about, they all start in his head that way. Most of the supporting cast tends to be white, with the occasional distinguished actor of color like Ken Watanabe or Morgan Freeman showing up every now and then.
- He also tends to reuse actors he likes: Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy appeared in both Batman Begins and Inception, Christian Bale and Michael Caine have both done the entire The Dark Knight Trilogy and appeared inThe Prestige. Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard all appeared in Inception right before Nolan started official pre-production onThe Dark Knight Rises.
- He has a history of whitewashing in the Batverse: to create the gasp-inducing moment where Henri Ducard is revealed to be the real Ra’s Al Ghul in Begins, Nolan cast a white actor as a character that has traditionally been portrayed as Arabic.
So my guess: It didn’t even occur to Nolan that Bane’s ethnicity as Latino would matter to anyone. He just wanted to cast Tom Hardy. And this really rubs me the wrong way because a lot of times whitewashing occurs because of studio mandate, for example, Lionsgate sent out ‘white only’ casting calls for the role of Katniss Everdeen, whose race was never made entirely clear but was implied to be non-white (she was described as olive-skinned in the books). But after the millions Nolan made with the first two Dark Knight films and the sheer critical acclaim they’ve gotten, I think Warner Brothers likely trusts Nolan enough to let him do his own thing. And I guess he just didn’t feel like auditioning a bunch of Latino actors for the role.
Furthermore, Nolan just seems to not care much for the comics at all. He’s taken his cues from a limited pool of material, a narrow characterization of Batman and when he needs characters to fulfill a plot role, he tends to just make up his own. Rather than bring the awesomeness that is Renee Montoya to the screen, he just filled in the blank with Ana Ramirez; rather than choose a love interest from Bruce Wayne’s rather interesting roster, Nolan created Rachel Dawes as the blandest female in fiction; and instead of giving us Dick Grayson, Nolan trusted his initial knee-jerk reaction to the character, somewhat denigrated in the mainstream as Batman’s useless goofy teen sidekick, and instead gave us John Blake.
At least, I’m told this is the void John Blake will fill. I just call him not!Dick Grayson and I’ve actually been strenuously avoiding this film because of Nolan’s kill-woman-to-advance-plot and whitewash-Bane-cause-why-not tendencies. I’ll see it when it comes out on DVD.
In the mean time, here’s some Latino actors who I think would have done a great job in the role (and no, I’m not saying Tom Hardy won’t be absolutely amazing, I just have a hard time believing there is absolutely no Latino actor out there who couldn’t have done just as well/better):
Edgar Ramirez (I’ve seen several Secret Six fan casts featuring this guy)
EDIT: Something else: Nolan’s Batfilms usually feature some oddly specific tropes.
- Bruce will beat up a cadre of Asian men - Bhutanese prisoners in Begins and Li’s security detail in Dark Knight.
- A small blonde child will have SO MUCH FAITH IN BATMAN and get saved by him - Narrows child and future tyrant Joffrey in Begins and James Gordon Jr. in Knight (because, y’know, it’s not like Gordon has any well known children).
- Not a recurring thing, but he managed to pull the Dead Bro Walking trope twice in Dark Knight: the first criminal to die is black criminal Gambol and the first legal official to die is black Commissioner Loeb.
I do remember reading some discussion about Bane being whitewashed, but that was back when the casting was first announced. It has shamefully disappeared from the conversation.
One of the arguments in favor of Tom Hardy’s casting that I saw back then was that Bane’s ethnicity wasn’t intrinsic to his motivation, that Bane could be played by anyone because the things he says and does aren’t really informed by his ethnicity. And I was just… stunned. Because that’s what having a racial or ethnic identity IS. It’s not that you do X because you are Y, it’s that whatever you do, you always are who you are.
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