The world was given its most famous portrayal of Bane in 2012, when Tom Hardy brought the role to life in The Dark Knight Rises. For audiences who didn't already know the musclebound Batman villain, it was shocking to see him violently break the back of the caped crusader, and take Bruce Wayne's city as his own. But while the movie version was grounded, and effective in striking fear into the hearts Gotham City's citizens, the true comic book origins of Bane are rather different.
Unlike many of Batman's most famous foes, Bane was not created alongside the DC heroes of the mid-1900s, or even in the following years as DC Comics took shape. This masked villain's first appearance came in 1993 with the comic Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1. Since he was a later creation, Bane has only one primary origin story, which may be the darkest and most brutal in Batman's entire Rogues Gallery. It's outlined in the Knightfall comics that followed his arrival, but we're here to break down the points fans will want to know.
Bane's Comic Book Origin Story
While Bane's mother was still pregnant with him, his father (Edmund Dorrance/King Snake) escaped Santa Prisca's prison system after he had been caught trying to lead a revolution in the corrupt country. Due to this national corruption it was decided that, should Bane's mother birth a male child, the baby would carry out his father's sentence. Of course, Bane was born a male child and thus he was raised in prison. His mother quickly died, which meant Bane had to learn to fend for himself and outsmart the prisoners around him. In many ways, Bane's origin story mirrors that of Batman, a parentless child who had to overcome his fears in order to rise from his deepest beginnings (a parallel emphasized in Tom King's post-Rebirth Batman series).
Similarly to Bruce Wayne, Bane is incredibly intelligent, having read whatever books he could in prison, learning up to ten languages by adulthood, and mastering discipline in his self-made training regimen. In Bane's first origin story, he's said to do 1,000 sit-ups, 1,000 pull-ups, and 1,000 pushups every day along with practicing his own form of meditation. Both the hero and the villain are incredibly disciplined, but one happened to be raised in a mansion while the other was born into prison. In the modern origin, Bane's cell would also flood with the tide every single night, meaning he would spend it treading water... with only the rats that swam by his face for food.
Bane's Comic Powers Explained
Bane's incredible strength and discipline is what would incite his transformation into the muscular villain fans know today. The prison warden forced Bane to be a test subject for a new drug called Venom, which had killed every other test subject before him. Alas, Bane did not die but instead was bestowed with incredible strength--which he used to escape Santa Prisca with his minions Trogg, Zombie, and Bird. Only Zombie was able to craft the Venom serum, which became vital once Bane was addicted to the drug and needed it every 12 hours to survive (it's this drug that is administered through a series of tubes and a tank connected to his body).
That being said, Bane is an expert tactician and master of martial arts... who just so happens to also have Venom-induced super strength to make these abilities pack that much more of a punch. This is why he is still considered the only villain who was able to physically and psychologically break the bat, when he famously shattered Batman's spine over his knee. In the reality of the comic books, Bane swore off using the drug in 1995's Vengeance of Bane II and only wore the tubes out of habit. In the 2005-2011 series Secret Six by Gail Simone, Bane even stated he would never use the drug again for as long as he lived. Which made it significant when he ends up using it to save Scandal Savage, his teammate in the series.
It was shortly after that version of Bane became a familiar, non-villainous face that 2011 happened, and with it came the reboot of DC Comics with the New 52. Venom use found its way back into Bane's story, with the Rebirth era of Batman making him once again inject the drug after being humiliated and beaten by Batman in his own prison. That being said, it was not rare to see Bane still using Venom right before the comic reboots, as it was a central point of the Arkham Asylum video games starting in 2009. Bane's addiction to this drug continues to be his greatest weakness, as his life is structured around his dependency on it.
With 2021's upcoming film The Batman starring Robert Pattinson, it is still unclear which villain(s) the movie will feature. Though the possibility of seeing another live-action Bane seems slim due to him being the primary villain of The Dark Knight Rises so recently, there is always a chance that we will soon see the genius-but-gruesome gargantuan take to the screen once more.
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