Understanding the Character: Bane

30 Days of Batman

Even without having seen ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at the time of writing this piece (another week or so for me), I can safely say that the upcoming version of Bane that filmmaker Christopher Nolan has in store for us will be far different from any we’ve seen before…and that’s likely a good thing in my eyes. You see, Bane isn’t exactly a part of the A list when it comes to Batman’s gallery of villains (though his back story isn’t terrible or anything), so Nolan has the opportunity to play with the character known to have broken the Bat’s back in any number of ways. My guess is that the changes he’s almost certainly made are all but exclusively for the better. In fact, when the movie comes out, I think we’ll see almost none of the upcoming history of the character shown in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, excluding a certain attachment that I’ll get into soon. Much like we dove into the history of the Caped Crusader in the last article for the 30 Days of Batman series, let us now dive into the man they call Bane. I’ll be looking at all the different versions of the character, but we don’t we start where it all began?

Bane as a Comic Book Character

The first appearance of the character known as Bane was in 1993, when he showed up in the appropriately titled “Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1”. His back story is as follows, in a quick Cliff Notes sort of fashion: Bane was born in prison, serving the jail sentence of his father, and developed his skills there. He’s incredibly intelligent,strong, cunning, and ruthless, along with being a gifted tactician. During this original run, he eventually becomes the leader of the inmates, something that the guards take note of and decide is the reason to make him a test subject for what we know as Venom. The Venom experiment nearly killed Bane, but he survived and found that the drug increases his physical strength to a large degree, although he needs to take it every 12 hours through a system of tubes pumped directly into his brain or he will suffer debilitating side-effects and possibly die.

This all led to the rather infamous Knightfall storyline (one that features prominently in rumors about the upcoming conclusion of the franchise) that has Bane coming to Gotham City. He has a fascination with the city because, like prison, it’s a place where fear rules, though in Gotham, it is the fear of Batman. Bane is convinced that fate has placed the two on a collision course and seeks him out. Bane attacks Batman in the Batcave, defeats him, and breaks his back, crippling him temporarily. It’s not known at this time is Nolan is going to go the same route with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, but I wouldn’t be absolutely shocked if he did (sidenote…later on in the comics Bane becomes an ally of Batman’s, but don’t expect that here in TDKR).

Bane as a Cartoon/Television Character

The highly regarded ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ used Bane at times during its run, but jettisoned most of his back story. He’s essentially just a Venom fueled assassin going after the Dark Knight. This might actually be a more likely avenue for Nolan to take, though I suspect there’s more to it than that. Bane also appeared in ‘Batman Beyond’, but no…he didn’t ever get a chance to fight Adam West in the original television show, though that would have been something.

Bane as a Cinematic Character

It won’t take much for Christopher Nolan to surpass the iteration of Bane that we saw in the awful ‘Batman & Robin’. Essentially made into a caricature of his original story, this is definitely not something Nolan will mine. This time around, he’s just a serial killer made into an unwilling test subject for Venom and transformed into a silly looking pro wrestler, essentially. This then devolves into the grunting hulk of a man turning into a bodyguard/chauffeur for Poison Ivy. Among the many things that people didn’t like about this movie, the way Bane was treated is chief there, and I can’t say that I disagree with them one bit.

Now, he’s back on-screen in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (looking like he’s capably portrayed by Tom Hardy), and it’s safe to say that he’ll be more compelling than he’s ever been. There’s still some question about his origin here, but I think it’s clearly going to be a more realistic take on the established canon. My guess is that he’s a rogue member of the League of Shadows, and he’s come to Gotham not just to defeat Batman, but to finally complete the mission of bringing down the city. I could be wrong, but that’s where I see this one headed.

Of course, Bane has shown up in a few Batman video games, but I don’t need to go there so much. Essentially, what we have here is a character without a tremendously compelling back story (short of breaking the Bat), but with enough malleability that Christopher Nolan and company can more or less do with him what they desire. When it comes to something like this, in Nolan I trust…hopefully I won’t be let down!

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!