Ka-Pow 101 – Bane: Behind the Mask

Bane by Ariel Olivetti

The countdown for The Dark Knight Rises is nearing its end. Some of you may still be asking who is Bane and why is he the villain of this film? What happened to the Riddler? Mr. Freeze? The Penguin? Or even the Ventriloquist? Why is Bane the choice for Nolan’s final Batman movie? To understand that, you have to understand who Bane is. Keep in mind as this is the source material for the film, there may be spoilers to what happens in the film. You have been warned.

Before the Bat

Serving a life sentence in place of his father, most of Bane’s life was spent in a prison called Peña Duro. From childhood, Bane learned from the various inmates and a Jesuit priest, honing himself physically and mentally. Versed in strategy and violence, Bane styled himself the king of Peña Duro. The warden became wary of Bane’s power and volunteered him as a subject in an experimental drug called Venom. Where most test subjects died, Bane gained enhanced strength, but he needed to re-administer the drug every 24-hours or else suffer debilitating withdrawals. After freeing some of his prison compatriots, Bane set his sights on Gotham City and the monster known as the Batman.

Breaking the Bat

Upon reaching Gotham, Bane did not directly seek out Batman. Instead, he decided to wear down the Dark Knight systematically. Bane destroyed Arkham Asylum, allowing the escape of many of Batman’s foes. While Batman exhaustively hunted down Gotham’s criminals, Bane consolidated power in the criminal underground. During this time, Bane also discerned Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne. In a final assault, Bane sent his three lieutenants to fight Batman and further wear him down. Then following the assault, he confronted Batman at Wayne Manor where the fight was brutally one-sided. To end the fight, Bane took Batman and broke his back over his knee. Wayne is left defeated and paraplegic.

The Aftermath

Bane remained victorious until the successor to Batman’s mantle, Jean-Paul Valley, defeated him. In the fight, Valley, also known as Azrael, severed the tubes that delivered Venom to Bane’s brain, thus giving him the advantage to defeat Bane. Bane would rehabilitate himself while serving time in Blackgate prison and begin a hunt to discover the identity of his father. This search would lead to a confrontation with the infamous, Ra’s al Ghul. He is appointed as Ra’s’ right hand, and together with Talia al Ghul, they seek to destroy Gotham. During this time, Bane is defeated by Batman in single combat.

Bane – Rising from the Ashes


Since Ra’s and Bane’s attempt at unleashing a plague on Gotham, Bane has most commonly been portrayed as a thug and hired muscle. In other media, he is also lacking his tactical mind and simply represented as a Venom-powered behemoth, as such was the case in the abysmal Batman & Robin. In the upcoming Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has returned Bane to the tactical and brutal opponent. Nolan has exchanged Venom for a gas-based anesthetic which dulls the pain of a previous injury. Rumor has it that Bane also will have a previous tie to the League of Shadows from Batman Begins.

Recommended Reading:

Batman: Knightfall

Secret Six

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