Judging by the buzz surrounding The Dark Knight Rises of late, you’d think the movie was due to hit theaters this Friday – as opposed to seven months (from the time of writing this).

Warner Bros. has begun to truly heighten anticipation for director Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie – between the initiation of the film’s viral marketing campaign, a press screening of the Dark Knight Rises prologue, and the release of an ominous poster that is all the more intriguing for fans who are familiar with the shared comic book history of the Caped Crusader and his main opponent in Dark Knight Rises: the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy).

Following the Dark Knight Rises prologue press showing, Nolan and his spouse/producer Emma Thomas sat down with IGN to chat about Hardy’s onscreen counterpart in The Dark Knight Rises – and, briefly, tease the masked thug’s backstory, as portrayed in the film.

On the topic of using the Dark Knight Rises prologue to introduce Bane, in a manner that (intentionally) recalls the introduction to The Joker in The Dark Knight:

Nolan: “Well, when you’re thinking about opening a film you want to lead in a striking way and with a very striking number of character-driven views. So you’re looking for a sequence that showcases this — in the case of Bane — his physicality and his aggression and devotion to his prize and this kind of thing. Those are all things that get wrapped up in there.”

Thomas: “And I think in some ways it’s kind of fun [to first show Bane in action]. In ‘The Dark Knight’ we did the same thing when we introduced the Joker, and he was in mid-heist. And it very much, if you remember, it very much gave you the sense of who the Joker was. And I think the same thing goes for [the ‘Dark Knight Rises’] prologue. Bane is already doing his thing, and you can see that he’s a brute. He’s a smart brute, but some things — there’s a real grandeur.”

With regards to when Nolan and his fellow screenwriters (Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer) had determined that Bane was going to be the main antagonist in The Dark Knight Rises:

Thomas: “We already knew that Bane was the villain when we were shooting ‘Inception’. And actually as we were shooting, we did talk about how, wow, Tom would be perfect for Bane. We talked about that pretty early on. The issue that we had was that Tom was going to be doing another movie. He was committed to be in ‘Fury Road‘, and we knew he wasn’t available. So every conversation that we had about how Tom was perfect to be Bane was sort of tinged with regret because we knew he couldn’t be. So as soon as we found out that that movie had pushed we approached him.

Tom Hardy as Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Lastly, Nolan had the following to say (or, rather, not say) about Bane’s origins, as portrayed in The Dark Knight Rises (note: he refers to Bane as a “lesser known” baddie, at the behest of IGN):

“Well, the liberating thing about dealing with a lesser known villain [like Bane] is you feel more creative freedom to embrace the elements of that character you feel can serve your story and ignore those that won’t. But at the same time, we chose Bane because he has some very unique elements to who he is. As far as the emphasis to it in the film, I’m actually editing some right now, so you never quite know until it’s done. But we certainly intend to do justice to it, to the character I’ve written and to the comics. And I think the significance of Bane, in our eyes, is his strength as an antagonist to Batman. Everything must serve that, including the nature of his past and how that will play into the story.”

For more from Nolan/Thomas, read the full interview over at IGN.

The Dark Knight Rises will be in theaters on July 20, 2012.