'The Dark Knight Rises' Villain Is a Mix of Brains And Brawn

Casual fans of Batman are familiar with some of his most popular nemeses – the one dressed like a clown, the other like a penguin – but the villain in the upcoming movie "The Dark Knight Rises" is far less popular yet equally as sinister.

Bane actually appeared in one other movie featuring the caped crusader, the 1997 film "Batman & Robin," but many big-time fans of the comics felt his character was stripped of depth and intelligence in that film.

Comic book fans anticipate that Christopher Nolan, director of "The Dark Knight Rises," will restore Bane to his former glory, portraying him not just as a thug with super strength but as a formidable opponent to Batman who is both strong and intelligent.

In the comics, Bane's story begins on the fictional island nation of Santa Prisca, where some revolutionaries, including his father, failed to overthrow the government already in power. His father was able to dodge the nation's court system, yet as a result Bane is born and raised in the Peña Duro prison and is forced to serve the life sentence meant for his father in his place.

The fictitious prison officials are inhumane to the criminal in the making, subjecting him to 10 years in solitary confinement and allowing a scientific research team to experiment on him. The researchers test a super-steroid called Venom on him and, though it killed all the others it was tested on, Bane survives the procedure. He eventually fakes his own death to escape the prison, and makes his way to Gotham City.

When Bane learns of the legendary Batman, he decides that he needs to prove his superiority by defeating the Dark Knight.

Bane is much more than just another super-villain with incredible strength; he is both intelligent and deeply corrupted from years of inhumane treatment. He takes time to study Batman. He later decides to free dangerous criminals, letting Gotham City's hero wear himself out getting them back into prison. When Batman returns home, while he is weak and tired, Bane strikes and breaks his back, making him one of the most successful opponents Batman ever faced and giving him the reputation as “The Man Who Broke The Bat.”

Christopher Nolan's Bane has been seen in teaser photos wearing a mask, but unlike previous portrayals of the character the mask is less like those professional wrestlers wear and more like some kind of metallic machine. Some speculate the mask will serve to inject the Venom into his body so that he can maintain his super strength.

It is still unclear how close Nolan's character will stick to the comic books. The Dark Knight Rises is set to appear in theaters and IMAX in the summer of 2012.

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