The Christopher Nolan-spearheaded The Dark Knight trilogy remains one of the most well-accepted superhero endeavors in the recent age. It has been praised tremendously by the fans of the franchise for various elements time and again. Christian Bale’s portrayal of the Caped Crusader received a cult following. The filmmaking techniques used by Nolan felt grounded, grand, and expansive. Overall, in comparison to certain DCEU or even MCU attempts, the results fared well.
However, fans have recently pointed out a major flaw within the much-acclaimed The Dark Knight trilogy. On Twitter, people seemed disappointed over the whitewashing of specific villains. While these incredible villains have been commended for following a compelling character arc, many seem to be wary about the implications of such “intense whitewashing.” Others have gone to the extent of terming the Oscar-winning director’s premise as “racist” and “ignorant.”
Has The Dark Knight Trilogy Whitewashed Its Villains?
Well, what is whitewashing? According to a Merriam-Webster definition, the process of whitewashing in the media is simply “to alter (something) in a way that favors, features, or caters to white people.” Simply put, in the context of the Nolan-led trilogy, whitewashing refers to an alteration caused by casting white performers in roles that are canonically based on non-white characters (fictional or not).
In the Twitter thread, people gave the example of Ra’s al Ghul and Bane — two notable villains of the Nolan-Batman pantheon. Birth of the Demon and The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul depicts an East Asian ethnic background of the character. However, in Batman Annual Issue #26 and further alluded to in Batman and Robin Vol. 2, an Eastern Roman origin has been emphasized. Needless to mention, his characterization is reliant on anything but a white identity.
Similarly, Bane, who made his imprint in the third installment of the trilogy, The Dark Knight rises, is mixed-race in origin. He was born to a British father and a Latina mother. However, in the Nolanverse, he is depicted by English actor Tom Hardy. Therefore, by the strict definition of what whitewashing means, these two cases have angered the fans who have now developed a resounding distaste for The Dark Knight trilogy.
Fans’ Problem With The Trilogy
This would not be the first time the director of the note-worthy endeavor has been accused of whitewashing his films. There are several articles on the Internet elucidating how the Inception alum is notoriously known for a lack of representation within the overarching range of his work. Some have affirmed, however, that such alleged tendencies exhibited by Christopher Nolan are a matter of the past and that in recent years, he has shown and depicted inclusivity within the premises of his films.
However, for fans of DC, the Nolanverse has suddenly garnered an ill-famed identity. Taking to Twitter, thousands of fans argued how not getting a “proper Bane” felt akin to a mockery. Stripping away these characters from their canonical origins has genuinely upset fans. While some have come to defend the trilogy with counterarguments, most seem to agree with the original user who pointed out the flaw.
Take a look:
Like im latino, not getting a proper bane fucking SUCKED.
— yehu (@comicyehu) September 29, 2022
Even if we consider the idea that "Ra's Al Ghul" was only a tittle, no one can explain me why Bane isn't latino.
— Gonza González (@gonzaegonza91) September 29, 2022
Yes the whitewashing was bad, but I’m sure Nolan didn’t have any racist intentions, he probably just didn’t think about it. I could be wrong of course
— Hakim (@hakim43vg) September 29, 2022
Some of the people here need to check their privilege. The whitewashing in this trilogy is absolutely racist.
— Artemis (@Artemis_66_) September 29, 2022
i really enjoyed Hardy Bane but yea theirs way too much whitewashing in that trilogy. not technically the same level of whitewashing but they even had a british guy playing Falcone 💀
— John Stewart Green Lantern (@LanternJS) September 29, 2022
This is the only example of white washing I’ve ever actually cared about, banes supposed to be a luchador god damn it
— Kibadude (@kibadude1) September 29, 2022
Some underneath the thread pointed out how instead of resorting to calling the director racist, one should acknowledge that the casting was probably done keeping in mind the merit of the actors involved. Others have affirmed that the casting choices might just have been the result of a pure business decision. However, most seem to hold skepticism towards the endeavor, calling the director out for his whitewashing decisions.
It is important to remember why exactly inclusivity and representation are (or should be) an important part and parcel of mainstream media. As more and more fans advocate for a comic-accurate Bane, it would be interesting to see whether or not audiences are rewarded with it in future adaptations.
The Dark Knight trilogy is available for streaming on HBO Max.