Batman has one of, if not the best, Rogues Galleries in comics. The list of Bat-villains that are household names to most people around the world, even if they aren’t comic book fans, is extensive. Everyone knows characters like The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler and Two-Face. Then you have other villains that have been featured on the big screen like Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Ra’s Al Ghul, who people in the know will have heard of.
Bane, while he mightn’t be one of the most famous villains, will also be pretty well known thanks to his big screen appearances too. With his distinctive look, one-of-a-kind origin story, and potent mix of giant muscles and expert cunning, Bane has always been a formidable foe for the Dark Knight.
Bane is currently being heavily featured in the Batman comic books, as the main antagonist of Tom King and Mikel Janin’s recent ‘I Am Suicide’ story-arc, as well as the upcoming ‘I Am Bane’. It is his first appearance in the comics since DC Rebirth, in which DC relaunched their comic book universe with an eye on returning characters to their classic roots. Bane is being presented as a massive threat to Batman again, and one not to be trifled with, and that can only be a good thing.
This article will detail 15 things that you mightn’t know about Bane, spanning interesting comic book trivia, as well as his appearances in other Batman media products. Enjoy!
15. Venom Appeared In The Comics Two Years Before Bane
Bane is probably mostly well-known to fans for his massive, hulking physique and intimidating luchador-style mask. He is one of the few villains in Batman’s Rogues Gallery who can match the Dark Knight in hand-to-hand combat. In fact, he’s even stronger than Batman. In most of his early appearances, this strength comes from Venom, the drug that is pumped through a system of tubes directly into his brain. Initially, Bane had to take venom every 12 hours or he would suffer debilitating side-effects, but when he was on the drug, he was almost unstoppable.
But what you might not know is that venom actually first appeared in the comics almost two years before Bane! In Legends Of The Dark Knight #16-20 (in a story appropriately titled ‘Venom’), writer Dennis O’Neill revealed that the drug was created by a psychotic doctor named Randolph Porter. He wanted to prove himself superior to other scientists working on similar, if less extreme, strength-enhancing chemicals. Batman then became addicted to the drug, while trying to find a method of coping with his physical limitations. He ends up locking himself away in the Batcave for a month in order to detox!
14. His Intellect Is As Formidable As His Body
Bane is perfectly capable of beating Batman up. We all know that. But he is also an intellectual match for Batman, and this has nothing to do with the venom.
Bane spent his childhood and early adult life in the Pena Dura prison on the (fictional) island of Santa Prisca. His father was a criminal and the corrupt Santa Priscan government declared his son would serve out his life sentence. Bane’s natural abilities allowed him to develop extraordinarily while inside those prison walls. He read as many books as he could get his hands on, developed his own form of meditation and learned to fight in the merciless dog-eat-dog world of prison life. He learned to speak four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin, and also received a classical education from an imprisoned Jesuit Priest.
13. His Initial Minions Were All Named After 1960s Punk Rock Bands
Bane was first introduced to fans with the epic Knightfall storyline, in which he escaped from Pena Dura and travelled to Gotham to pit himself against the legendary Batman, whom he had heard so many stories about. Bane engineered an outbreak from Arkham Asylum, and after letting Batman run himself ragged trying to apprehend many of those escaped villains, Bane bested him in combat and broke his back. All these years later, that moment is still cringe-worthy.
Bane surrounded himself with three minions in this story— other inmates from Pena Dura: Trogg, Zombie and Bird. They were named after rock bands from the 1960s: The Troggs, The Zombies and The Byrds, so perhaps the writers Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench were classic rock fans! They were also inspired by certain characters from the Fabulous Five, the associates of classic pulp character Doc Savage.
12. Bane Was First Defeated By Batman’s Psychotic Replacement Azrael
We mentioned in a previous entry that Bane broke Batman’s back during the Knightfall storyline. Now, even though this is the outlandish world of comic books, Batman has no superpowers and thus, a broken back was always going to be a tricky thing to recover from! He definitely wasn’t going to be good to go the very next issue. In total, the Knightfall story ran for slightly over a year of comics (including the Knightquest and KnightsEnd portions), and it took Bruce Wayne almost that whole time to reclaim the mantle of the Bat. But who was he reclaiming it from?
When he was injured, Batman left Gotham in the hands of Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael. This choice was questionable, to say the least, and definitely a lapse in judgement on Batman’s part. Why? Well, because Valley was first introduced as the latest in a long line of assassins for The Sacred Order Of Saint Dumas, a sinister religious secret-society. For most of his life he had been brainwashed by the society, and he wound up seeking Batman’s help in breaking his conditioning. Which Bruce seemingly did.
However, when he was called to be Batman in Bruce’s absence, he went off the deep end, becoming more brutal and merciless than Batman ever was. He crafted a new, armoured costume and even began killing criminals. And it was he who actually defeated Bane for the first time, besting him in battle and torturing him afterwards, so much so that Bane begged for death.
11. Ra’s Al Ghul Wanted Bane To Be His Successor And Marry His Daughter
Following the events of Knightfall, Bane recovered from his venom addiction while serving time in Blackgate Prison. He eventually escaped and returned to Gotham to fight alongside Batman against a criminal ring distributing venom to street-level thugs. Bane must’ve enjoyed fighting the good fight, because he then declared himself ‘innocent’ of his past crimes and urged Batman not to hunt him while he went searching for his biological father. Batman, presumably happy that Bane wasn’t trying to kill him anymore, didn’t argue and let him go!
Bane returned to Pena Dura and the Jesuit Priest told him there were four men who could possibly be his father: a Santa Priscan revolutionary, an American doctor, an English mercenary or a Swiss banker. While searching for the banker in Rome, Bane encountered Talia Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins. He eventually impressed Talia’s father Ra’s so much that The Demon’s Head chose Bane to marry Talia and become his heir (a position that had always been reserved for Batman)!
10. It Took Batman Over Three Years To Beat Bane In One-On-One Combat
Bane first appeared in the one-shot Batman: Vengeance Of Bane #1, which had a cover date of January 1993. It took Batman until Detective Comics #701 in September 1996 to finally defeat Bane in a one-on-one fight. That’s over three and a half years of real-world time, which is especially eye-opening when you know that Batman always tended to physically dominate most of his villains within a single story-arc or even a single issue. The fact that DC waited so long to pull the trigger on this victory shows how highly they valued Bane as a character. It also made the moment so much bigger and more impactful, because Batman hadn’t truly managed to get even with Bane after he broke his back and sidelined him for a year.
The battle came during the Legacy storyline, in which Ra’s Al Ghul launched a biological attack on Gotham with ‘The Clench’, an Ebola-like virus. Bane was allied with Ra’s at this point, and he and Batman fought after Batman foiled their plan to unleash the virus at a Gotham Casino opening. The fight spilled from the casino to the nearby shoreline, and ended when Batman managed to subdue Bane in the water. He was about to take him into custody when the tide carried Bane out into deeper waters, and a physically exhausted Batman simply didn’t have the energy to go out into the water after him.
9. He Once Believed He And Batman Shared A Father
We mentioned before that there were four possible candidates who could’ve been Bane’s father. At one point, Bane believed that the American doctor candidate was none other than Dr. Thomas Wayne aka Batman’s dad! What?! Allow us to explain.
Apparently Thomas had been in Santa Prisca for a period of time and was close to Bane’s mother. When Bane alerted Batman to the possibility of their shared parentage, DNA tests were performed. Somewhat amusingly, while they were waiting for the results, Bane actually stayed at Wayne Manor and fought crime with Batman! What a bizarre period that must’ve been. The test results subsequently showed Thomas wasn’t Bane’s father, and he left Gotham peacefully (and with Batman’s financial backing) to pursue another lead in the snowy mountains of Kangchenjunga.
8. Bane Led His Home Country To Democratic Elections… And Then A Civil War
For much of the early-to-mid 2000s Bane bounced around various comics in the DC Universe but didn’t really have a truly compelling story for a long time. But, in a 2006 JSA: Classified story entitled ‘The Venom Connection’, he resurfaced, asking the Hourmen for their help. He told them that he had returned to Santa Prisca and discovered a new, more addictive, strain of venom had been created. He said he had been captured and forced to take venom again, becoming addicted and working as an enforcer for the drug cartel. This all turned out to be a ruse and Bane had actually wiped out the drug lords and destroyed every research note on venom.
He then went on to lead Santa Prisca to democratic elections (somehow), but upon learning they were rigged by Computron, he enforced Martial Law and that led to the country being plunged into Civil War! Ultimately, this can just be chalked up to another bizarre entry in Bane’s chequered comic book history. It definitely seemed that, for a long period after his 90s heyday, writers just didn’t know what to do with the big guy.
7. Bane Was Once A Member Of The Suicide Squad
This past summer’s Suicide Squad movie was a massive, if controversial, hit for Warner Brothers and DC Comics. The studio spent a heap of money on advertising the movie, and the campaign paid off, with megabucks at the box office and a strong fanbase. Most critics tore the movie to shreds and some fans felt let down as well, but it more than did its job introducing the concept to general audiences and familiarizing them with DC characters like Harley Quinn and Deadshot.
Interestingly, Tom Hardy was originally cast as Rick Flag, the soldier tasked with keeping the team of supervillains in line while on-mission, but had to drop out of the movie. Hardy, of course, is famous for having played our man Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, so it might’ve been odd for audiences to see him playing another DC character so soon. But, this wasn’t the first time Bane has had an association with the Squad. In the comics, Amanda Waller recruited Bane to the team at the close of the Raise The Flag miniseries, and he was featured in the Salvation Run storyline.
6. Bane Showed Genuine Affection For Scandal Savage… Who Sliced His Throat
From one team of supervillains taking part in ethically and morally suspect missions to another! Bane mightn’t have been a member of the Suicide Squad for very long, but his tenure as part of the Secret Six was much more lengthy. Esteemed comics writer Gail Simone revived the team in 2005 as part of Villains United, and they appeared a few more times before getting their own ongoing series in 2008. It was at this point that Bane was added to the team, which also featured Catman, Deadshot, Rag Doll… and Scandal Savage.
Initially Bane was depicted as a devil’s advocate for the group, offering alternative points of view on love to Deadshot and Catman, as well as showing an almost father-like concern for Scandal’s well-being. At one point Bane is nearly killed, and in order to save Scandal, breaks his vow never to take venom again. When Bane eventually assumed leadership of the team, his first act was to remove Scandal from active duty, so that she couldn’t get hurt. And how was Bane repaid for his kindness? Well, Scandal formed her own Secret Six to battle Bane’s, and when they engaged in battle and Bane refused to fight back… she sliced his throat open with her lamentation blades! Some people…
5. An Alternate Version Of Bane Is A Professional Luchador And A Dictator
Comic book history is filled with parallel universes, multiple earths and time travel tomfoolery. This means that there have been many alternate versions of characters that have appeared over the years, and Bane is no exception. For instance, when Marvel and DC decided to combine their characters during the Amalgam line in the mid-90s, Bane was merged with Nuke (a Daredevil villain) as Bane Simpson. There was even a second combination, with a Bane/Punisher mash-up named Banisher. So, yes, sometimes in comics, even the alternate versions have alternate versions!
Our favourite alternate version of Bane, however, came in the Batman ’66 series, a digital comic set in the continuity of the campy 1960s Adam West TV series. Here Bane was a professional luchador (wrestler) and the dictator of Skull City, Mexico. He allied himself with The Riddler, who had stolen an artifact named the Crystal Skull from the Gotham museum. This was, presumably, not the crystal skull that Indiana Jones sought, but rather an artifact that was the source of Bane’s powers and created a version of Venom.
4. Bane Appeared In Batman: The Animated Series Less Than Two Years After His Comic Book Debut
Bane debuted in the comic books in January 1993, as we’ve previously detailed. Then, in one of the quickest cases of a character being transferred to another medium, he made his multimedia debut in the Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Bane’. Appropriate title, huh?
The producers of the show were initially reluctant to use the character, however, as they considered Bane too gimmicky. But the decision was made, likely due to the character soaring comic book popularity at the time, and he was brought into the show. In all fairness, this episode wasn’t one of the best outings for the show, and maybe this was due to the creative forces being lukewarm on the character. He was voiced by Henry Silva and had a very strong Latin American accent, which was toned down in later appearances.
The episode paid lip service to Bane’s keen intellect, but didn’t fully embrace it, meaning he came across as solely a physical threat to Batman. In his later appearances in The New Batman Adventures, Bane was given a character design makeover, changing his mask and the writers pushed his intelligence more. It worked wonders, making him come across much more intimidating.
3. Bane’s Movie Debut Was In 1997’s Franchise-Killing Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin is widely remembered as one of the worst comic book movies ever made. It was such a critical disaster that it forced Warner Brothers to re-think their entire strategy when it came to their lucrative Batman franchise. This ground-up reinvention meant fans endured eight years without a big-screen Batman movie before Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale rescued the character from cinematic purgatory.
Most people remember Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s lamentable performance as the cold-pun-spewing Mr. Freeze. It was awful. But so was Uma Thurman‘s wildly over-the-top portrayal of Poison Ivy. George Clooney was the worst Batman we’d seen at that point, and Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone did significant damage to their careers as Robin and Batgirl respectively. But you might not remember that there was actually a third villain in the movie, who was presented as a mindless, hulking lackey to Ivy. Yes, we’re talking about Bane. Sadly.
Played by the late wrestler Robert ‘Jeep’ Swenson, this incarnation of the character is atrocious. From the lame CGI used in his intro scene, to the bizarre green and veiny look they gave him, to his role as an almost wordless brute… it just wasn’t Bane. The only consolation is that many fans might not even remember he appeared in the movie, as his role was so insignificant.
2. Tom Hardy Based His ‘Bane Voice’ Partly On A Bare-Knuckle Fighter
Bane faired considerably better in his second cinematic incarnation. In The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s concluding third entry in his celebrated Dark Knight Trilogy, Bane was played by the magnificent Tom Hardy. He gained 31lbs of muscle to play the role, and described Bane as having the physicality of a gorilla. This Bane was the main antagonist of the film, a terrorist leader who was incredibly intimidating and destructive to both Batman and Gotham City. Even though the filmmakers chose not to include Venom (perhaps as it would be seen as too outlandish for the very real-world-based Dark Knight films), this version of the character felt respectful of the comics.
Perhaps the most instantly recognizable aspect of Hardy’s Bane, however, was his extremely unique voice. Coming from behind a terrifying mask that covered his entire mouth and jaw area, the voice sounded otherworldly and strikingly odd (and yes, sometimes a bit muffled). Hardy said he drew on a few different influences for Bane’s accent: his fierce intellect, Caribbean heritage, and in particular, bare-knuckle fighter Bartley Gorman. Gorman was a Romani-Gypsy and reigned supreme in the world of illegal gypsy boxing between 1972 and 1992. He was often referred to as ‘King Of The Gypsies’.
1. Bane Was The Basis For A Swedish Death Metal Album
In March 2016, Swedish death metal band Silent Images released the album Knightfall. If that title sounds familiar, that’s because it should! Knightfall was, of course, the title of the epic story that introduced Bane to the DC Universe in 1993. And this album was actually a concept album based on the story (with additional inspiration taken from the Arkham Asylum series of video games). The album has been heralded in certain quarters as, apparently, a didactic dissection of the intimate dichotomy between Batman and Bane. Which sounds like pretty heavy going, to be honest!
In all seriousness, though, even though the brutal heaviness of Swedish death metal might not be for everyone, it’s still pretty cool that Bane has served as part of the inspiration for a piece of art in a completely separate medium. In the 24 years since his creation, he has been featured in countless comics, including the current ‘ I Am Suicide’ story arc in the main Batman comic (in which he is completely naked for the entire story, for some reason). He has been in several animated episodes and animated movies, and has appeared as a formidable boss in a number of video games. He has made it to the big screen twice, one with more success than the other. And he now has a metal album too. Bane transcends, man!