We understand if you don’t remember how crappy a villain Bane was in Batman & Robin, because Batman & Robin is widely considered to be an abomination that is best forgotten. It’s not an abomination, though it is a terribly cheesy movie. Many people seem to focus on the neon-gaudiness and the Bat-nipples to the exclusion of the fact that it’s a superhero movie for kids, full of villains spouting endless one-liners and fights that are composed of pratfalls and cartoon sounds. Not that it should have been a superhero movie for kids or that the filmmakers even intended it to be such. Regardless, it sullied the character enough that the franchise ended up taking a seven-year hiatus.
The bad guys in Batman & Robin were Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze (worth it to watch this supercut of his puns — “Let’s kick some ice!” and so on). Ivy’s henchman was Bane, a scrawny convict who is pumped full of supercharged steroids that turn him into what could be the big boss from a never-made Nacho Libre video game. In his very first scene, he breaks out of his chains and then loudly growls his own name.
Non-comic-book fans had never heard of the guy. Comic-book fans definitely had, because four years earlier he had starred in an extended Batman story line called “Knightfall,” in which he broke Bruce Wayne’s back, crippling the crimefighter to such an extent that Wayne had to find someone else to fill in for him (that guy, Azrael, eventually got a little power-hungry, let some people die that he shouldn’t have, and was fired from the job). Bane defeated the hell out of Batman. He was a real badass. Smart, too. (Also, jaaaacked!)
But not in Batman & Robin. There, he was just a brute. A galoot. Could’ve been anyone. Just look at this face-off with Batman and Robin. (Also, note how stiffly everyone moves, like their suits were just a little too tight but the filmmakers ran out of time to make them more flexible before filming.)
So when it was time for Christopher Nolan & Co. to craft their Bane, they already had a template. All they had to do was the complete opposite of everything that Joel Schumacher & Co. did.
- Remove the ridiculous Mexican wrestling mask from his face.
- Since the ridiculous Mexican wrestling mask has now been removed from Bane’s face, get a real actor to play the part, as opposed to a wrestler.
- Since the character is supposed to be quite smart, allow him to speak. (Whether or not we can understand what he’s saying is another question.)
- Remove all that tubing, which keeps him pumped full of his superjuice (“Venom”), from the back of his head. Especially because it’s really easy to defeat him if you just cut the tubes.
- Don’t make his skin look like that of a sweaty lizard.