Warner Bros. worries over a muffled Bane, Nolan doesn’t

Audiences at the IMAX showings of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were recently treated to an extended prologue for Dark Knight Rises, which featured the first scene of the film.

Critical and fan response to the scene has been mostly positive, but there was one complaint which seemed almost universal: Bane is inaudibly muffled.

Bane, played by Tom Hardy, is the primary villain for this iteration of Batman. The character’s costume includes a mask which covers his mouth and nose – a foil to Batman’s mask which covers everything else – and muffles his voice.

The most frequent comment by critics and fans after the first showings, other than words along the lines of “it’s so awesome!” was that Bane’s dialogue was muffled beyond understanding.

Without Bane’s dialogue, audiences found it difficult to actually know what was supposed to be happening in the sequence.  

The micro-blogging world is where this issue hit hardest, with tweeters, in typical fashion, putting lots of effort into coming up with ‘muffled bane’ jokes.

This all has Warner Bros. execs somewhat worried. Such jokes can actually damage  a brand, and if people stop taking Dark Knight Rises seriously, they may be less inclined to go see it in the theaters. As such, they want director Christopher Nolan to revisit the sound editing on the film and remix Tom Hardy’s vocal performance (which would have been recorded separately, and mask-free in a sound booth, then mixed back into the film with the desired muffle effects) to make it more intelligible.

As for Nolan, the directior doesn’t seem to agree that the issue damages the film, though he’s likely looking at it from an artistic point of view, rather than thinking about the marketing ramifications. However, he’s agreed to touch-up the audio of the film, although not as extensively as Warner Bros. might have wanted.

At a press event earlier this month, Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter the sound was not as important as the visuals. According to Nolan, viewers seeing the film in its entirely will have little trouble grasping the plot – even if they don’t really understand a word of Bane’s dialogue.

The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters July 20, 2012.