Donald J. Trump was sworn in as 45th President of the United States on Friday. By now, comparing Trump to comic book supervillains is old hat, but in his inaugural address, Trump channeled — however accidentally — the spirit of Bane, quoting parts of the masked villain’s speeches from 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. However, it’s not the first time that Bain’s words have reached the real world. A lot of the movie’s iconography and dialogue, ripped out of context, were used by the Gamergate movement — large parts of which were later absorbed into the so-called “alt-right,” white nationalists who supported Trump during the 2016 election.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane (Tom Hardy) faked a class revolution that was only ever meant to lead to Gotham City’s nuclear destruction. Standing atop of Batman’s stolen arsenal in front of Blackgate Prison, Bane declared:
“We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please … The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests, and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. … This great city, it will endure. Gotham will survive!”
Combined with Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack and Wally Pfister’s ace cinematography, Bane’s speech is a charged scene that those who identified with Gamergate — the 2014 movement that said it was questioning ethical games journalism but was infamous for seamy online harassment — latched on to.
This is what Trump said today:
But we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you… the people. For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost … The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country … Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”
As Jezebel noted, the similarities are hard to ignore — and one excerpt happens to be an exact quote. Though it’s unclear if Trump has even seen The Dark Knight Rises (and he almost certainly didn’t consciously channel Bane while writing it), the predominantly young, white nationalists who vocally supported him were largely drafted from Gamergate. That movement’s supporters, who have a lot in common with white nationalists that made waves in the 2016 election, loaded their arsenal with memes, GIFs, and YouTube remixes, and took aim at progressives. Many of these memes featured the Bane character from Christopher Nolan’s film — brought to life as a charismatic revolutionary with supreme male physicality — and not the original comic books. (In Batman comics, Bane was a genius who gained ultra strength from an artificial drug.)
Besides the concept of a revolution pushed by an alpha male, Bane’s lines like “The fire rises!” or “Do you feel in charge?” were common in Gamergate’s homebrewed memes.
Bane was the Pepe of his time, in other words.
Trump’s Bane quote was, of course, probably just a coincidence, but it’s a telling one. Gamergate’s white nationalist successors are now the establishment, sadly. Let’s just hope Trump doesn’t mimic Bane in too many other ways — the villain did, after all, want millions of people to die in a nuclear explosion.