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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Before Venom, a look back at Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises

Tom Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime as Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Let's hope he does the same with Venom.

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi |
Updated: October 3, 2018 9:21:19 pm
tom hardy bane Solid and muscle-packed, Bane was like a walking killing machine.

Tom Hardy is easily one of the top leading men in Hollywood today. When it was announced that he will be starring in Sony’s Venom, the excitement for it went several notches up. This is not just because of his ability, it was also because of the last time he played a comic-book character – Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

While Venom fluctuates between being a villain and an anti-hero, Bane was a force of evil through-and-through. After Heath Ledger’s Joker turned every plan of Batman and his allies on its head in The Dark Knight, Nolan brought Bane to the picture. The character famously broke Batman’s back in comic-book’s Knightfall storyline, delivering him the most grievous damage anybody had ever inflicted.

But comic-book’s Bane was also slightly one-note. Unlike Joker and his countless avatars, Bane was not given much character by writers. Nolan, though, infused Hardy’s Bane with a purpose. This was a hulking beast of a man who was no dumb brute. He had a brilliant and tactically sharp mind. Also, unlike Joker, he also had no misgivings in killing Batman. In fact, that is exactly what he wanted to do – after making him watch the destruction of Gotham, of course.

While Nolan and writers Jonathan Nolan and David S Goyer wrote a supervillain who was by far the biggest challenge Batman and Gotham had faced, Hardy did the rest. He bulked up into a body that was more tank than human. Solid and muscle-packed, Bane was like a walking killing machine. Even though a majority of his face was covered by the mask, he used the still visible facial muscles and eyes to emote.

The beginning of The Dark Knight Rises has to be one of the best establishing scenes in superhero movies. Bane and his band of mercenaries hijack a CIA aircraft in a breathtaking scene that would shame the Mission: Impossible franchise. You see, they hijack the plane by sliding down ropes suspended from their own aircraft that is flying above.

And Bane announces himself and his plan in style. “It doesn’t matter who we are, what matters is our plan. No one cared who I was until I put on the mask,” he tells the CIA agent. And later, to the man he has come to abduct — Dr Pavel — “Calm down, doctor. Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.”

Hardy’s Bane was also a demagogue. He had a gift for oratory. If he did not want to destroy Gotham, he could have got himself elected as its mayor with ease. He was given some great dialogue by writers, and Hardy did it justice by delivering it with flair. “Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you,” he tells Batman while beating the hell out of him. And later, “Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

My favourite Bane moment comes when Ben Mendelsohn’s John Dagget gets his neck broken. Dagget, a rival of the Waynes, assumes Bane is working for him when he sabotages Wayne operations. He does not yet know Bane works only for himself. In this scene, when his assistant is about to leave, Dagget screams, “No! You stay here, I’m in charge!”. Bane calmly puts a hand on his shoulder, palm facing the neck, and asks him, “Do you feel in charge?” (See the scene above)

Let’s hope Tom Hardy delivers again with Venom. It releases on October 5.

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