In 2012, Christopher Nolan will direct his third Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” along with Christian Bale returning as Batman and Anne Hathaway joining the cast in the role of Catwoman. Today, however, we’re focusing on the film’s other main character, the one “Inception” star Tom Hardy will portray Bane, the man that broke the Bat.
Created by Batman veterans Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan, Bane burst upon the comic book scene in 1993’s “Batman: Vengeance of Bane” #1. There was obviously some creative input from Editor (and famed Batman writer) Denny O’Neil who, during his run on “The Question,” created Venom — the drug that gave Bane his inhuman strength — along with the villain’s fictional Caribbean home, Santa Prisca. Bane was, according to a 2003 “Washington Post” interview with Graham Nolan, “an evil ‘Doc Savage.'” Without delving too deeply into who and what Doc Savage is, suffice it to say that the pulp hero was the very best at everything he did. Doc was a genius with a perfect body and a quintet of equally amazing sidekicks. According to Nolan, it was Chuck Dixon’s goal to make Bane in the same mold.
Born in Peña Duro prison in the Caribbean Republic of Santa Prisca, Bane’s real name is unknown. What is known of his origins is that he was the son of a political revolutionary who escaped the hellish nation’s idea of justice. In his absence, it was decided that the unborn Bane would serve his father’s life sentence instead. Within the walls of Peña Duro, Bane was molded into a man of extraordinary abilities. A voracious reader and able student, his teachers ranged from other inmates to a Jesuit priest who provided Bane with a classical education. The prison’s gymnasium transformed Bane’s body into a weapon and the endless struggle to survive the prison’s inmates honed him into a killing machine. His first murder was at the age of eight when he stabbed another inmate using the knife secreted inside his teddy bear, Osito.
From infancy to adulthood, Bane grew in intelligence and strength until finally rising to the role of undisputed ruler of Peña Duro. The prison administration, observing Bane’s strength and survival skills, slated him for experimentation, as a test subject for the drug Venom. Though Venom had killed all previous test subjects, Bane survived. The chemical was administered every 12 hours directly into his brain via a series of tube. Under the influence of Venom, Bane’s already prodigious strength became superhuman.
It would be many years later that Bane would make his escape from Peña Duro along with his three allies (based loosely on three of Doc Savage’s aides): Bird, Trogg and Zombie (all named for 60’s rock bands, because comic writers like to be funny sometimes). Bane, it seemed, had become obsessed with the similarities between his life in prison and Gotham City. Both Peña Duro and Gotham were ruled by fear; even the guardian of the city, the Batman, was a symbol of fear. In Bane’s mind, Gotham was a society he could understand — it was simply a bigger prison. Couple this skewed world view with recurring childhood nightmares of a demonic bat and you have a single recipe for Bane’s burning desire to destroy the Batman.
As already established, Bane was no ordinary thug. He was a genius, a tactician and had established himself as de facto ruler of a society composed of criminals. Though unintentional, he was born and raised to thrive in Gotham. As a result, Bane was savvy enough to avoid direct confrontation with Batman until he held the tactical advantage, launching his campaign with an assault on Arkham Asylum, destroying the walls and releasing the insane and dangerous denizens into Gotham. While Batman spent months rounding up his deadliest foes, exhausting himself in the process, Bane set about uncovering Batman’s secret identity.
Batman returned to Wayne Manor, in an exhausted state from his marathon criminal hunt, to find Bane waiting in the Batcave. Within Batman’s subterranean sanctum, the pair battled. The outcome was, to say the least, unexpected — Bane broke the back of the Batman. This event led to Batman being replaced for a time by Jean-Paul Valley, previously known as Azrael. As Batman, Valley and Bane eventually clashed with Bane suffering defeat at Valley’s hands.Â The replacement Batman utilized a suit of battle armor in place of the traditional uniform and severed the source of the Venom that empowered Bane. The weakened Bane then suffered a severe and brutal thrashing by Valley. However, Bruce Wayne’s rematch with the “man who broke the bat” was yet to come.
Bane, deprived of Venom, recovered from his addiction to the drug while serving time in Blackgate Prison. An old-hand at prison life, Bane eventually made his escape from Blackgate and returned to Gotham, where he actually teamed up with the Batman, once again Bruce Wayne version, to take out a gang that was distributing Venom as a street-drug. Once the bad guys were dispatched, Bane and Batman parted company as Bane proclaimed himself innocent of his past misdeeds and headed off to Santa Prisca to find the source of the Venom.
Back in his homeland, Bane learned that the identity of his father was not as clear as he once believed. While it remained possible his father was the revolutionary whose deeds inadvertently condemned Bane to his prison-based upbringing, evidence also pointed to a number of other possibilities, including Batman’s father Thomas Wayne. Bane set about discovering his father’s true identity, a trek which led him to the door of Ra’s al Ghul. Ghul, fed up with Batman’s refusals to be his “heir” decided to bestow the honor on Bane instead. Ghul and Bane then launched an attack on Gotham in the form of a plague, with Bruce Wayne and Bane meeting in combat, allowing Wayne the opportunity to finally defeat the man who broke his back years earlier.
After falling in his rematch, Bane went through a series of appearances, each one failing to utilize the character in the way he was intended, as an almost mirror version of Batman. It wasn’t until Bane returned to Gotham to determine once and for all if Thomas Wayne was his father that things picked back up. Taking the direct approach, Bane simply told Batman that they might be brothers and, while awaiting the DNA tests, the pair lived together in Wayne Manor and worked the streets of Gotham together. When it turned out that they did not actually share a father, Bane left Gotham once again, this time with Batman’s friendship and financial support as he continued his search for his origins. That search ended when Bane discovered that his father was Sir Edmund Dorrance a.k.a. the King Snake. Bane and the Batman teamed to confront King Snake and Bane sacrificed himself when he saved Batman from a gunshot. Batman, for his part, resurrected Bane by bathing him in one of Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits. Bane returned from the dead, his baptism in the Pit a new beginning for the one-time villain.
Bane made a few notable appearances — and some glossed-over ones — between the character’s redemption in 2004 and his introduction as a series regular in “Secret Six.” Many of those appearances contradict Bane’s redemption and are, in some cases, completely out of character. These appearances have been largely ignored by subsequent writers and seem to have been determined to stand outside of current canon.
In 2008, writer Gail Simone brought Bane into her team of not-so-bad guy villains, the Secret Six. Simone quickly established the character’s “voice” in the book as one of reason — or at least one of reasoned debate — as he would present alternative viewpoints to the opinions of team members, showing, once again, that Bane was nobody’s fool. Bane also formed a parental affection for the team’s de facto leader, Scandal Savage. Bane had, finally, returned to being a well-rounded character, one with depth and intelligence, and he began to grow as a character.
After the apparent death of the Batman, Bane and his teammates, Catman and Ragdoll, travelled to Gotham to, apparently, stem the rising tide of crime in the city. As the trio of “villains” rescued citizens in Batman’s name, Bane discussed his great respect for the Batman and his preciously unspoken desire to take up the mantle of the fallen hero, as did his companion, Catman. In the end, Bane supported the original Robin, Dick Grayson, as the former sidekick took on the role of Batman. Most recently, the tactically savvy Bane took over leadership of the Secret Six, leading to a schism between Scandal and her loyalists and Bane’s new team. At this point, the character remains solidly tied to the team title where he is a regular fixture on a monthly basis.