Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 20 2011 10:24 AM

Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

/blogs/browbeat/2011/01/20/meet_batman_s_new_super_foe/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Photograph of Tom Hardy by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Warner Bros. Pictures announced yesterday that Oscar-nominated actress Anne Hathaway will co-star opposite Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated Dark Knight sequel, The Dark Knight Rises. The big news for Batfans, however, is that after months of feverish speculation, Rises has finally announced its villains: Hathaway as Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman), and Inception's Tom Hardy as Bane. Wait—Tom Hardy as who?

Bane, in a nutshell, is a brawn-and-brains double threat with an unhealthy addiction to a "super-steroid" called Venom. While his backstory varies, he was first imagined—in the 1993 comic "Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1"—as an autodidact who escapes from a Central American prison after involuntary medical experiments turn him into a Herculean freak. His other addiction, besides Venom: breaking backs. Bane's most notorious feat is snapping Batman's spine—leaving the Caped Crusader in a wheelchair—in the 1993 comics series Knightfall , and he's gone on to break several other backs since, including that of Batman's fellow DC superhero Judomaster in the bestselling 2005 story arc Infinite Crisis. (This 7-issue series includes Bane's moving cri de coeur, "I finally know who I am. I am Bane. I break people.") In the 2008 Travellers Tales videogame Lego Batman, Bane can defeat the favorite son of Gotham by breaking him into his component pieces—a move known as the " Atomic Backbreaker."

Bane has actually made an appearance in the Batman films before. In the infamously rubber-nippled Batman & Robin, director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman reduced Bane to a brain-drained meathead henchman (played by Jeep Swenson). While Hardy, the English actor, is nostranger to building up bulk, in Nolan's less fantastical, more psychologically-terrorized Gotham Bane seems as likely to fight with his signature smarts as with his juiced-up biceps.

As for Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, fans shouldn't worry about the Devil Wears Prada actress: The future femme fatale has proven herself more than capable of communicating the requisite allure and hostility. And at the very least, she has to be better than Halle Berry.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 23 2014 12:16 PM Another Intervention?    Anti-ISIS airstrikes aren’t about keeping Americans safe.  
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon That Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.