The villain Bane first appeared in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (Jan. 1993). Little is known about his past, but he was an inmate unjustly imprisoned in the Grand Pena Cura prison in the corrupt Caribbean Island nation of Santa Priscia. He may well have been born there. He was placed in solitary confinement as a child, in a cell that was flooded by the sea every day, nearly drowning him. He lived on the sea creatures washed in. As an adult, he was chosen for an experimental program in which he was injected with a super-steroid named Venom. Eventually he grew to 6-foot-eight and 425 pounds. He escaped with his minions Bird, Trogg, and Zombie, and headed for Gotham City to claim it as his own. He defeated Killer Croc (See Suicide Squad) for control of the mob and nearly defeated Batman as well, helping his enemies to escape from Arkham Asylum. In fact, he broke Batman’s back with his bare hands and very nearly killed him.
In the film, it is eight years after the events of The Dark Knight and the beginning of the rise of Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked terrorist excommunicated from the League of Shadows. He abducts a nuclear physicist named Doctor Leonid (Alon Abutbol) from under the noses of the CIA, snatching him from an aircraft over Uzbekistan and crashing the plane. Batman has been missing since the death of Harvey Dent, but organized crime has largely disappeared from Gotham City because of the military-style police, who believe that much of the terror of the last eight years is the fault of Batman. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has prepared a speech exonerating Batman and revealing the truth about the hero Harvey Dent but decides not to read it. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a recluse in Wayne Manor and Wayne Enterprises is losing money.
Bane sets up a base in Gotham’s sewers and convinces Wayne’s rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelson) to buy Wayne’s fingerprints. Cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) obtains the prints from Wayne Manor, but she is double-crossed and alerts the police. Gordon and his troops arrive and pursue Bane and his troops through the sewers while Kyle disappears. Gordon is captured and taken to Bane. He escapes and is found by rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an orphan who has figured out Batman’s identity.
Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange using Wayne’s fingerprints and Wayne ends up bankrupt. Batman reappears and intercepts Bane. Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), knowing that Batman is not strong enough, resigns, hoping to save his life. Wayne becomes involved with Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), the new CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Bane becomes extremely wealthy and kills Daggett, now useless to him.
Kyle (or Catwoman, though she is never called that) agrees to take Batman into Bane’s trap. Bane intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham. Bane defeats Batman in battle, crippling him and putting him in an unescapable prison. The inmates tell Batman of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, who was the only one to escape. Bane traps the Gotham Police in the sewers and destroys the city’s bridges. He kills the mayor and converts the Wayne Enterprises fusion reactor into a neutron bomb. Bane reads Gordon’s speech to the people, destroying Harvey Dent’s reputation, but exonerating Batman. He releases the prisoners of Black Gate Penitentiary, institutes martial law, and begins to kill Gotham City’s elite with kangaroo courts.
Five months later, Wayne escapes from the unescapable prison and returns to Gotham. He frees the police, who battle Bain’s soldiers in the streets. Miranda turns out to be Talia al Ghul. She activates the bomb, but Gordon blocks her signal. She heads out to find the bomb as Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Selina Kyle kills Bane. Batman and Kyle pursue Talia together, hoping to stabilize the bomb. Talia’s truck crashes, but she ignites the reactor before dying. Batman uses his new plane, The Bat, to haul the bomb into the sky, where it detonates harmlessly, but the Bat disappears. Batman is presumed dead and a hero. Wayne Manor becomes an orphanage. Gordon finds the bat-signal repaired. In Florence, Alfred discovers that Bruce Wayne is alive and living with Selina Kyle. Blake, whose first name is Robin, resigns from the police and finds the Batcave.
Christopher Nolan again directed, and Hans Zimmer scored the music. The political side of the story was inspired by Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Plans to use CGI and deleted scenes to resurrect Heath Ledger’s Joker were quickly dropped, fortunately, as disrespectful. Bain’s mask gave him a serious Mad Max Glory Road look. Tom Hardy wore three-inch lifts in his shoes—he was supposed to be six-foot-eight--and gained thirty pounds. He took the job without reading the script, but he found it disturbing to beat up Batman, his childhood hero. Some shots of Wayne Manor were filmed at Wollaton Hall, a manor in Nottingham, just north of the village of Gotham.
Selina Kyle wore a cat-suit complete with thigh-high boots with spike heels. After playing the role, she said, “You know, I thought I was fit.” When she was told she had the part, she ran around screaming with joy. She beat out Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, Gemma Atherton, Jessica Biel and Lady Gaga for the job. She based her performance on Hedy Lamarr, who had actually been the original inspiration for Catwoman. The Bat is part Harrier Jet, part Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, and part Boeing Apache helicopter. Patrick Leahy, Senator from Vermont, has appeared in three Batman movies. The death of the character Foley, run over and dragged by the Tumbler, was excised as too violent, threatening the NC-17 rating.
During a midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman wearing a gas mask opened fire in the theater, killing 12 and injuring 58. The gunman identified with the Joker. Various campaigns and trailers were cancelled. This obviously affected the box-office, but the film received highly positive reviews. A few negative reviews received death-threats from fans, and Rotten Tomatoes had to disable its user commentary. Left-wing publications decried the movie’s supposed conversative spin, and conservative journals called it biased toward the left. Rush Limbaugh said Bane was a caricature of Mitt Romney’s company Bain Capital, despite the fact that Bane had been in the comic books since 1993. Some phrases from Bane’s speech justifying taking control of Gotham were apparently reproduced verbatim in Donald Trump’s inaugural address. Still, Christopher Nolan had created that rare thing—a fully successful movie trilogy.
Just a note: This is a high point on which to end DC/Dark Horse #1. Most of DC/Dark Horse #2 will consist of the Justice League lineup of films, the DC Cinematic Universe’s answer to the Avengers lineup of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the Covid Interregnum, there should be a number of new films featuring Justice League members—Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, another Aquaman, Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman stories, etc.—and I will not be submitting DC/Dark Horse #2 until I can add at least some of those.