Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

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

Meet Batman's New Super-Foe

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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.