BANE'S VOICE: (WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?)
"Masks" might be a thematic focus of Nolan's Batman films, but "voice" has been the bane (no pun) of his filmmaking experiences with Batman Begins and especially The Dark Knight. In fact, franchise star Christian Bale's 'Batman voice' has gone from being something that riled fanboys, to an official part of the pop-culture zeitgeist, ripe for parody at any and every turn.
If one voice wasn't enough of an issue, now it looks like Nolan has two on his hands (issues, that is): Ever since The Dark Knight Rises IMAX prologue and/or the new trailer hit theaters, there's been one point of near-consensus: It's hard to understand a word that Bane (Tom Hardy) is saying.
THR is reporting that the Internet complaints about Bane's digitally-altered voice (muffled by his hi-tech S&M mask) have reached the ears of those at Warner Bros., and the studio isn't taking the mater lightly. One person supposedly working on Dark Knight Rises was quoted as saying he is "scared to death" about "the Bane problem." Rumors have it that the studio is pushing for Nolan to go in another direction with the voice, but the filmmaker is standing firm on the issue (though he will be tweaking the audio levels of the film in editing).
Having seen the prologue for myself, I can say that the problem is a considerable one - though maybe not for the reasons a lot of people think. Unusual voices are a running theme for the costumed characters in Nolan's Batman films (The Scarecrow, Joker, Bane and Batman himself) - and at this point, frankly, I'm used to it. Bane's voice is weird, for sure, but far from inaudible.
The problem with the prologue (as I saw it) was that the settings in the IMAX theater I was in were such that the background sounds (the roar of a plane engine in particular) were so loud that they drowned out ALL dialogue in the scene.
Take dialogue that's hard to make out, add an odd voice (like Bane's), and yes, you indeed have an issue. Funny enough: other viewers in other IMAX theaters said they could hear Bane's dialogue just fine, and had more of an issue with his strange accent. And though it's not crystal-clear, Bane's line of dialogue in the new trailer isn't impossible to make out. ("When Gotham is ash, you have my permission to die.")
It seems that sound editing will make or break this aspect of the film - hopefully Nolan tweaks the levels in a way that Bane's voice booms. Aside from keeping it audible, in my opinion the character sounds great. If you happen to be in the camp of people who hate the voice, you'll sure to get a kick out of the fact that there is already a "Muffled Bane" parody account on Twitter.