You could watch me torture an entire city and then when you truly understand the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny. We will destroy Gotham. And then when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die. – Bane

When Steve Jobs died, I bet a lot of people wondered what would happen to Apple. I suppose this holds for any real visionary. What happens after they’re gone?

In the Nolanverse, we encounter Ra’s al Ghul. We must pay homage to Ra’s al Ghul first before we can begin to understand Bane.

Ra’s al Ghul was a terrorist mastermind—a CEO (of sorts), like Steve Jobs. Except instead of creating, Ra’s al Ghul’s main objective was to destroy. He believed Gotham City was beyond saving, and his organization, the League of Shadows, would “restore balance” by destroying corruption. Ra’s al Ghul seemed to believe it was possible to create a sort of utopia on Earth, and his organization, The League of Shadows—harbingers of death, could make it so.

The League of Shadows has been a check against human corruption for thousands of years. We sacked Rome. Loaded trade ships with plague rats. Burned London to the ground. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence we return to restore the balance. — Ra’s al Ghul

The League of Shadows trained Bane and Talia al Ghul, Ra’s daughter. After Ra’s death, Talia became the heir, and you probably guessed it, Bane was her accomplice. Together, they would finish what Ra’s started. This is what happens when you have a clear mission statement. If everyone understands why the organization exists, its overall goal, and desired future state, folks can figure out how they fit. Though the players may change, the ongoing purpose and focus of the organization remain.

And so it was with Bane. Even with the bad blood between him and his predecessor (if you want to see how it went down, you’ll have to watch the series), he believed in the mission. So much so that he was somewhat of a religious fanatic.

We now know why the League of Shadows exists. We know Ra’s al Ghul’s objective. What was Bane’s OKR?

ObjectiveDestroy Gotham
DescriptionFulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny
KR 1Turn the fusion core into an atomic bomb
KR 2Release all convicts
KR 3Disconnect Gotham from the outside world
KR4Break and kill Batman


As with many a villain, Bane was unsuccessful. Why? His OKR is mechanically perfect. He has a succinct objective title. The description of his goal is clear. He internalized it, and so did the League of Shadows. He’s got between 2-4 Key Results. Granted, he’s got a few activity-based Key Results in there, but under the circumstances, they make sense. It took an incredible amount of effort to create the atomic bomb. Killing Batman is no small feat. Other villains have tried and failed. So, what gives? I think Bane choose a poor Key Result. He wanted to break Batman before he killed him. I think had he made KR 4: Kill Batman, he would have succeeded. He wasn’t direct enough.

When we’ve reflected on our OKRs at the end of our cycle and didn’t achieve them, we should consider we might have chosen the wrong objective or wrong Key Results to begin with. Setting good OKRs is difficult. Bane learned that the hard way.

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