After the massive success of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan had to discover a way to finish the Batman trilogy while introducing a new villain that could potentially top Ledger. Little did he know that would be one of the most challenging things to do, but he was willing to pull out all the stops. The casting was brutal, the direction was finite, and the execution had to be perfect. If the new villain wasn’t at least comparable to Ledger’s performance, people wouldn’t receive the film as warmly.
This led him to include Bane, the Venom-enhanced luchador from the comics. That said, he had to do a lot to the character’s appearance and history before placing him in the film. Because of this, the casting choice was crucial, and he needed someone who could effectively portray the character in the direction that he felt was best. Nolan wasn’t too picky outside of that.
Eventually, Nolan was led to Tom Hardy, and production on the film began. After the movie came out, Hardy’s portrayal was mostly positive (some people didn’t like him due to his voice). He was generally liked and seen as an imposing presence for a grizzled Batman to fight. Like most characters in movies, there are some things you may not have known about him, and we’ve got 15 little-known facts about Tom Hardy’s Bane.
15. League of Assassins
One of the things Christopher Nolan did to bring Bane into the fold of his trilogy is alter the character’s origin story significantly. Nolan wanted Batman’s story in the final film to come full circle after all these years, and to do that, he brought in the League of Shadows once more. Not only did he introduce the daughter of Ra’s, Talia al Ghul, but he also stated that Bane had once been a member of the League on the order of Talia. Because of this, Bane is an exceptional fighter and can easily compete with Christian Bale’s Batman during the film. Originally, he was portrayed himself as the child of Ra’s who had survived all kinds of struggles in the Pit before finally making it out. However, this was a red herring to allow for the twist of Talia to come to the forefront. That said, Bruce Wayne’s hallucination of Ra’s was still spot on, when he said that he would always be around and was truly immortal. While some might’ve been upset about this change, it was a good change in the context of the universe that Nolan had created.
14. Tattoo Cover Up
Tattoos are all the rage for some people, and Tom Hardy is no different. As a matter of fact, he has an incredible number of tats all over his arms and torso. Just google any pictures of him without a shirt and you’ll know what I’m talking about. However, if you remember from The Dark Knight Rises, Bane had no such tats. This is an easy fix, though, as most people can use make up to conceal them. However, that’s not the strategy that Nolan took if set photos are anything to go off of. In them, Tom Hardy dressed as Bane still had all of his tattoos on full display while shooting scenes. This would have to mean that Nolan used CGI in order to remove the tats for the final cut of the film. While this is a natural option, one would wonder why he would do this when he was so heavily against CGI. Furthermore, the tattoos might have even fit the direction they were taking with the character; it was probably better they were edited out though. Some of Hardy’s tattoos wouldn’t really make sense with the character he was playing.
13. Gotham’s Hidden Evil
Nolan loves his symbolism, and that’s prevalent throughout The Dark Knight Trilogy. Gotham City was depicted as a very realistic and corrupt city, but that only grew as the films went on. After all, at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, they were celebrating Harvey Dent day, because Batman and Jim Gordon lied about the truth of Dent’s transformation into Two Face. There was an underlying theme of hidden evil in Gotham City in all of the movies, but it reared its ugly head in the final act of the trilogy. Nolan wanted to really cash in on villains being a hidden evil and coming from the underground to symbolize this. As such, that was a lot of the inspiration for Bane having his base underneath the streets of Gotham and even attacking the underground. On top of that, Bane was the one who brought many lies and secrets of Gotham to the light of day, so it was a perfect metaphor for the hidden evil coming from the depths of the Earth. By attacking the city so brutally, it showed Gotham that secrets, lies, and corruption will always come up in their time. It can’t be hidden forever.
12. Improv Quotes
The Dark Knight Trilogy is no stranger to improvised scenes and quotes. For instance, in The Dark Knight, when the Joker showed up to Bruce’s party, that was the first time Michael Caine had ever seen Ledger in the full makeup, so the reaction was unscripted. Then there was the time where the Joker tried to blow up the hospital and pulled the trigger only for it not to work properly. He then waved his hands as he wondered what went wrong.
Bane also had his share of improvised moments. While in the past he was known for making more subtle attacks on the city of Gotham, he finally decided to come to the light by attacking Gotham Stadium. He walks up with his goons waiting for the right time. While he waits, the young boy begins singing The Star-Spangled Banner, to which Bane laments “What a lovely, lovely voice.” That was improvised by Tom Hardy, but Nolan kept it in to make Bane seem more terrifying. Villains are crazy and murderous, but this moment of appreciation and honesty adds a twisted sense of characterization. That’s probably why Bane chose not to blow up the stadium right away- he wouldn’t want to ruin that lovely voice.
11. In Love with Talia
As I stated before, Bane had a lot of changes in production to make him fit with Nolan’s trilogy. That said, not all of them were welcome changes. There was a long backstory about a child who survived being in the Pit because she had a mysterious protector. At first, the child was thought to be Bane until it was revealed that it was Talia. The man who protected her was the man who would become Bane. As such, the two of them were closely working together during the invasion of Gotham City.
Talia told the real story after she betrayed Bruce Wayne, and then she helps Bane. He simply looks at her with those love eyes that men get when seeing women they like. This was a point of criticism for the film because it’s clear that Bane was much older than Talia, still being an adult while she was a child. By having him seem like some lovesick puppy, it made him less interesting, and quite creepy due to the age gap. Then again, Batman villains don’t exactly adhere to reasonable standards when it comes to dating, so maybe the whole thing was in character.
10. He Wore Heels
This is something that I would argue should be done more in movies. Anyone that knows Tom Hardy knows that he isn’t a very tall fellow, coming in at about 5’9″. Bale and many other cast members of The Dark Knight Rises were much taller than Hardy, so Nolan had to be clever about his style. Because Bane was often standing so close to other actors, forced perspective wouldn’t cut it all the time (the way that Gimli was made to look so short by having him stand a bit further away from the rest). One thing Nolan did was give Hardy a set of elevated shoes or “heels” in order to be taller than Bale and many other individuals. On top of that, on scenes where he was by himself, Nolan would often shoot at an upward angle to give the appearance than Bane was much bigger. He wasn’t going to cast a taller actor, because Hardy definitely had the muscular appearance that was necessary for the character. Now if only they could get Tom Cruise to do the same thing when he played Jack Reacher (the character was gigantic in the books).
9. Previous Comic Design
One thing that Christopher Nolan struggled with during the production of the trilogy was what he could change from the lore. It’s clear from the comic fans and the internet that too much change wouldn’t receive any support (unless executed very well), so Nolan had to be very careful with what he altered. As such, he went a reasonable route by changing everyone to fit in the context of his universe, which had some really interesting and fun results in the end. For Bane, one of these changes included the lack of Venom, and clearly, his appearance. The mask that he bore in the film was not the final version of the costume though. In the Blu-ray release for The Dark Knight Rises, there was some concept art for the titular villain that came along with the film. As the art reveals, there were a lot of changes in direction for the character. After all, the movie version doesn’t bear a lot of resemblances to his comic book original. The thing that changed the most was his mask. There were previous incarnations that were much more similar to the luchador-inspired mask that he wore in the comic books.
8. It Hurt To Punch Batman
Tom Hardy is a big guy, and I pity the poor soul that decides to get in his way. Despite his stature, he could probably take down most of America by himself. He’s been shown in previous movies to get into a lot of fistfights, and for the ones that get a bit more real, I’m sure the receiver of his punches had to take a few breaks in between scenes. Hardy and Bale shared many fights in The Dark Knights Rises as Batman and Bane, and there were a lot of fists that flew around. However, Hardy was insistent on doing his own fight choreography as opposed to having a stuntman do it. He felt that it would translate into the movie much better in the long run. He stated how it’s always fun to see how real it looks while noting that it doesn’t hurt at all. Then he quickly retracted the statement by saying that it hurt his hands to punch someone who wore the rubber and plastic batsuit. It’s a cute moment of irony that really makes one thing how possible being a superhero would be in real life.
7. Hardy Didn’t Read the Script
Nolan’s Batman trilogy exploded in popularity as the MCU was gaining steam. In that time, actors were showing more interest in being in superhero films (more so Marvel than DC nowadays). When Nolan was beginning to construct The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy was riding on the success of his previous film Inception. Nolan came to the actor very early on and asked if he’d be interested in playing the character and wearing a stuffy mask for several months. Hardy accepted before he had even read the script at all. Then, he spent all the time bulking up (even more than he already was) and getting all of the martial arts training that he needed before spending any time with the actual script. While this might have led to a disaster in his performance, Hardy knew that working with Nolan would allow him all the resources he needed in order to become the best possible Bane that he needed to be. In the long run, this proved to be for the benefit of the character, as Hardy checked all of the boxes that were necessary in order for him to become the villainous Bane.
6. His Voice Was Redone
Anyone that I’ve ever talked to about The Dark Knight Rises is into one of two categories: they either loved Bane’s voice or despised with a burning passion. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it and could understand it just fine (without subtitles, mind you). When the film was being created and the first footage of Bane was released, though, his dialogue was very difficult to make out by the general public. This became a HUGE concern for fans of the franchise. A villain could one of the greatest things since sliced bread, but if nobody can understand him, then there’s almost no point to making him so awesome. When people went to see the film, many were pleased that Bane could actually be understood this time around. The truth of the matter is that Hardy and Nolan were cognizant of the reception of the Bane voice, and Hardy decided to redo many of his lines to give people a better experience when watching the movie. You have to give the man credit for making a change that the people wanted, which is more than I can say for other actors and directors (I’m looking at you, Warner Brothers).
5. Hardy Was Motivated By His Love for Batman
The Dark Knight Rises brings the story of Bale’s Batman full circle, but the movie also brought Tom Hardy’s story full circle. Growing up, he was a huge fan of the Dark Knight and had all kinds of Batman stuff. This was probably something that pushed him to hastily accept the role in the first place. However, he would not be fighting alongside the Caped Crusader but against him. No doubt he experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance when he figured out what he had to do, but he pushed through nonetheless.
Determined to be the best Bane possible, he actually used his love for the character as a drive to fight even harder. He had to literally destroy his childhood, but instead of using as a crutch, it mentally made him perform even better when all was said and done. He trained hard and had so much ferocity because he was working not to just beat up the Batman, but to beat up his childhood. He worked through his feelings and nostalgia in order to become more terrifying. After all, you can’t have a Batman villain who actually likes the Dark Knight.
4. He Beat Up the Wrong People
Say what you will about the overall quality of The Dark Knight Rises, but there’s no denying that the scene at the end with the army of Gotham citizens and Bane’s mercenaries was an amazing sequence. Seeing Batman and Bane sift through the flood of people trying to kill them was exciting and led to a brutal confrontation between the two of them. However, because that scene was so big in scale, it was one of the hardest ones to shoot, especially on Tom Hardy’s side. He had several cops that he was supposed to attack as he moved through the crowd and met up with Batman, but the chaos proved to be difficult. He couldn’t remember who he was supposed to attack because everyone looked the same, so he would start throwing punches at random cops in the scene only to find about that he ended up about twenty feet away from Batman. According to Hardy, he would yell for Batman after he got lost. We don’t really blame him either; if it had been any of us, we would have easily made the same mistake. Besides, a scene of that magnitude takes finesse.
3. Hardy Was Nolan’s Perfect Choice
Christopher Nolan seems like a man who likes to have everything a certain way. In the case of The Dark Knight Trilogy, he did this in order to make the best movies possible. As he was coming up with the idea for Bane, he continuously came back to Tom Hardy as his perfect choice. Nolan came on this decision after watching his performance in the movie Bronson. Bane was a powerful prisoner in that movie and would convey a lot of emotions with his facial expressions. Nolan wanted someone who could still act with their face while still being behind a mask. He also needed someone who was pretty muscular and/or willing to get even bigger. Obviously, Tom Hardy was the perfect choice for the role, and it was probably an exciting relief when he took the role so easily. Nolan often encouraged Hardy to be over the top with Bane, using all parts of his body to effectively portray the character. Had someone who was very uncomfortable and robotic be behind the mask, the film could have been heavily panned across the board.
2. No Unnecessary Gore
Nolan loved to ground movies in realism, and The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. The movie trilogy portrayed favorite Batman characters with a new grounded aura that set them apart from their comic book equivalents.
When introducing Bane to his interpretation of Batman, Nolan still decided to include some moments that were key in the comics- the biggest of which being where Bane snaps Batman’s back. However, anyone that’s read that comic knows that it is particularly graphic, showing all kinds of bat blood and disjointed limbs. Nolan was presented with a challenge because he still wanted the fight scenes to be brutal and look painful, but he didn’t want a lot of gore. His goal with having Bane fight to shock the audience, but never gross them out to the point where they either became numb to it or were grossed out by it (something that rated R movies could attempt in the future). All in all, it seems like they achieved a nice balance with the action in the movie. I will say that Nolan sounds like he loves to challenge himself, because trying to make the violence of a character like Bane seem less gruesome is pretty difficult.
1. The Training Hurt Him
Tom Hardy is not a small guy, but he didn’t look strong enough to pick up Batman and break his back. In order to prepare for the role, he added on around 30 pounds of pure muscle in a fairly short amount of time. Apparently he would work out around four times a day. The training regimen was intense and ridiculous, but it worked out for the movie. Afterwards, that’s a bit of a different story. Hardy has revealed that putting on so much muscle so quickly actually damaged his joints. This isn’t hard to believe either as Tom isn’t exactly a young guy anymore. He’s currently pushing 40 years old, and his body wouldn’t hold up like it used to. Thus, such extensive training actually harmed him in the end of it all. He has stated that since then, he hurts in places that he usually didn’t hurt and it’s a bit more difficult to carry his children around. We hope that Hardy takes it easier in the years to come (Lord knows he has many more movies in him) and that he still watches his health while working out. He was great as Bane and we look forward to his performances in the future.