Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bane - A Retrospective

One of the more obscure characters added to The Dark Knight Rises was Bane.  The character is a relatively young Batman villain, not appearing in the comics till the early '90s, compared to folks like the Joker who traces back to 1940.  To have Bane even as a secondary villain would have been a gutsy choice on Nolan's behalf, but to have him as the primary villain is even gutsier.  Majority of comic book writers tend to tackle Bane simply for his muscle, to have someone that can challenge Batman physically, but Bane has on occasion had a writer who knew that Bane was not only a beast of brute force, but was a calculating mercenary who has brains to match.  This seems to be how Nolan is tackling the character.

While Nolan has stripped away some of the more fantastical elements of the character, such as his use of venom to make him super strong, the character seems to be given more to do here than he ever has in any comic book before (aside from breaking Batman's back).  I am really intrigued to see where Nolan goes with the character, and in all honesty the character has a fairly minimal onscreen footprint.  Sure, Bane popped up in The Batman cartoon a few years back, and he was notoriously done no justice whatsoever as Poison Ivy's muscle man in Batman & Robin.  The only tremendous onscreen incarnation of the character is that from the early '90s cartoon, Batman:  The Animated Series, voiced by Hector Elizondo.

In the BTAS, Bane's origin was completely in tact, with not a single piece missing, and the characterization was well handled.  Take his first appearance in the show.   He was raised in a South American prison, finishing his father's sentence, and was scientifically experimented on there, becoming Bane.  What made this incarnation so well done though, was that Bane was not a mindless brute out to simply beat people up, he was a smart, calculating mercenary who worked to usurp crime boss Rupert Thorne in Gotham City.  Thorne hired Bane to bring down Batman.  Not only did Bane attack Robin and outsmart Batman, throughout most of his initial appearance in the show, but he also was able to double cross one of Gotham's most notorious gangsters without his knowing, that is some sheer brainpower.  Simply put, this has been the most enjoyable incarnation of Bane thus far onscreen.  Of course, even with one good onscreen portrayal, I am really hoping Nolan has nailed the character, because Bane is still far away from being considered one of Batman's most formidable foes, and he truly is if you understand his comic book character.  A superb incarnation in The Dark Knight Rises may very well put him over that hump.  We'll see come Friday.

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