Today we got an unexpected (but very welcome) surprise as the first official image from The Dark Knight Rises appeared online in conjunction with the film's official website and viral campaign. That image was, of course, Tom Hardy as Batman nemesis, Bane. Now that we have a look at Hardy's Bane and how the character is being imagined for the Nolan Bat universe, the time has come to dissect the image in all it's detail, while discussing some theories about why Nolan is going with this particular costume design, as well as what it means for the character of Bane, and subsequently, the overall story of the film.
But first things first: If you haven't seen it already, take a look at the first image of Bane below:
So, a couple of things to discuss about this image. First of all, it looks as though Hardy has definitely bulked up the right way to play the physically imposing Bane. Many know Hardy best from his charismatic role in Inception, but true cinephiles know that he first made a big splash playing another bulky bruiser - infamous UK criminal Michael Gordon Peterson - in Nicholas Winding Refn's stylish biopic Bronson. It was that role that made Bat-fans confident that Hardy could inhabit the role of Bane properly, and judging by this image, he certainly looks the part.
The bigger topic of discussion, however, is the headpiece that Bane is wearing in this picture - which looks somewhat reminiscent of Shredder in the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies from the early '90s. In the comics, Bane is known for wearing a trademark mask - one that is part function in addition to fashion, providing conduits which Bane uses to pump an enhanced steroid known as "venom" into his body. The venom serum gives Bane wildly augmented strength and stamina, but as a side effect it also makes him dangerously psychotic. There's been a lot speculation about whether Nolan would include venom in his "grittier and more realistic" version of Bane, but this headpiece, when examined up close, certainly lends credit to that theory:
The inclusion of venom makes a certain amount of sense when you think about it. We know that Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadows uses psychotropic materials in their rituals and practices, as seen in Batman Begins with the blue flower that Bruce Wayne was tasked to carry to the League of Shadows stronghold, and the hallucinatory vapor that was derived from that flower and used by Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) for his fear gas. It's speculated that Bane will be aligned with the League of Shadows in Dark Knight Rises, so venom being another chemical derivative utilized by The League is not really a stretch of imagination to envision. Those "skeleton fingers" tubes on the front of the mask could certainly play a part in this theory - say, if in the movie Bane's venom was ingested through inhalation, rather than injection like in the comics. In that sense, the skeleton finger tubes would function sort of like inhalers, would provide this mask with specific functional purpose for its macabre design.
Furthermore, recent rumors have pointed to the possible inclusion of The Lazarus Pits in The Dark Knight Rises. In the comics the pits were used as "Fountain of Youth" sources for League of Shadows master Ra's al Ghul to rejuvenate himself at key intervals. Photos of the The Dark Knight Rises' India set have revealed structures that could be Lazarus Pits, though the rumor mill is leaning toward the explanation that in Nolan's universe the pits would be used as a source of Bane's venom, rather than the supernatural function they serve in the comics. Does Bane's intricate headpiece lend credit to this idea? It's certainly becoming a strong possibility...
Right now, all we can say for sure is that it's exciting to see some official materials from this film appearing on the Internet, as fans are almost certainly eager to participate in yet another great viral marketing campaign launched by Warner Bros. We all know that when it comes to films like this, most of the fun is in the anticipation and analysis of every picture and poster and trailer. We're looking forward to it!
Bane will attack when The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20, 2012.
BONUS - For a quick read on everything we know so far about The Dark Knight Rises, go HERE.