Attacks against Mitt Romney's record with Bain Capital and hysteria over the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises are both on the rise. As such, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee may soon be annoyed by unlikely and unwelcome comparisons between Bain (the allegedly villainous private equity firm he founded) and Bane (the central villain in Christopher Nolan's upcoming Batman movie). Here, a brief guide to the coincidence on which liberals are sure to seize:
What is Romney's connection to Bain Capital?
Romney helped found the private equity firm, then headed it up in the '80s and '90s. During his tenure, the firm invested in start-up businesses — notably Staples and The Sports Authority — and private equity transactions, in which Bain would typically acquire a struggling company, stabilize it through downsizing, and then sell it for a profit. Romney routinely touts his stewardship at Bain as one of his chief credentials for the White House. But Bain's corporate transformations often meant lost jobs, as the Obama campaign has dourly noted in a series of attack ads that portray Romney as a "vulture capitalist."
What does this have to do with Batman's Bane?
Little on the surface. Beyond the fact that "Bain" and "Bane" are pronounced identically and that both are portrayed — by the Left and in movie trailers, respectively — as evil, the comparison may seem strained. But the connections go deeper, says Henry Decker at The National Memo. Tom Hardy, who portrays Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, described the villain as clinical and brutal in his results-based fighting style. Replace "fighting style" with "business strategy," and Hardy "could've easily been describing Bain."
Are there other connections?
The entire Batman movie could serve as an allegory for the 2012 election, says Rich Watch. From the perspective of progressives, Mitt Romney is Bane, "the toughest match the Dark Knight has ever had to face," while Obama is Batman, "once thought of as a hero, now thought to be a monster, [and who] must return to fight for his ideals." (At the end of the last film, Batman took the fall for Gotham City's corruption, much the way Obama is blamed for the recession, and became a pariah.) Posters for The Dark Knight Rises say, "The Legend Ends," and feature Bane walking away from a shattered Batman cowl. Perhaps that means Romney/Bane succeeds where others have failed and "breaks the people's hero." Or maybe Obama/Batman "gets broken by a strong challenger [but] ultimately wins in the end."
Is the film political in other ways?
Yes. Trailers for The Dark Knight Rises portray Gotham City in the midst of violent class warfare, with angry rioters battling police at a protest on the steps of a City Hall-like building and looting a mansion. Remind you of a certain Occupy movement? asks Brent Lang at The Wrap. At one point, Anne Hathaway's Catwoman even whispers to the super-wealthy Bruce Wayne, "You and your friends better batten down the hatches because when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."
Did liberal filmmakers plan these connections?
That seems unlikely. Bane was officially announced as the new Batman villain more than four months before Romney officially threw his hat into the ring, says Decker. Still, the parallels offer "a fun subplot to watch during the summer dog days of the presidential race," says Jed Babbin at The American Spectator. "I can hardly wait to see how the Dems will combine" Bain and Bane.
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