Director Christopher Nolan Discusses Choosing Bane for The Dark Knight Rises and More
12.13.11 by Ryan
The Batman movies of the late '80s and '90s took a traditional approach to choosing villains — starting with Joker in 1989's Batman, before moving on to Penguin, Catwoman, and others. Director Christopher Nolan, on the other hand, has used more obscure villains for his Batman movies. He brought in Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow for 2005's Batman Begins before using more traditional villains like the Joker and Two-Face in 2008's The Dark Knight.
For Nolan's third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, the director has focused his attention on the villain Bane (Tom Hardy), who is reportedly the centerpiece of the seven-minute prologue to The Dark Knight Rises which will screen before select 70mm IMAX showings of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol starting Dec. 16th. While Bane did appear in the woeful Batman & Robin, and is well-known to comic book fans for breaking Batman's back in the "Knightfall" story arc, Nolan admitted to the LA Times that he had little knowledge of the character before starting work on the sequel.
I didn’t know him very well. David Goyer got me a bunch of stuff on him and we looked into him. I only knew him by name, I wasn’t familiar with his back story. He’s a very cool character. And getting an actor like Tom to take it on, you know you’re going to get something very special. Tom is somebody who really knows how to put character into every gesture, every aspect of his physicality in the way that great actors can. He’s a very, very physical actor. He transforms himself and it’s there in every movement. He’s not afraid to look at a character from the outside as well as the inside so there’s a deep psychological branch to the character but also a very, very specific awareness of how he’s going to use his body and his appearance to express that character too. Christian [Bale] is like that too, very much.
While it seemed like the Joker (Heath Ledger) was already a formidable-enough opponent for Batman in The Dark Knight, Nolan says that Bane is "something we haven’t dealt with" in his Batman movies.
With Bane, the physicality is the thing. With a good villain you need an archetype, you know, you need the extreme of some type of villainy. The Joker is obviously a particular archetype of diabolical, chaotic anarchy and has a devilish sense of humor. Bane, to me, is something we haven’t dealt with in the films. We wanted to do something very different in this film. He’s a primarily physical villain, he’s a classic movie monster in a way — but with a terrific brain. I think he’s a fascinating character. I think people are going to get a kick out of what we’ve done with him.
Those who make it into the very few theaters that will show the prologue will see Bane in a CIA aircraft that is transporting hooded prisoners, and reveals some "intense aerial work" according to the Times piece.
We had a lot of fun on it. It was a tricky sequence to shoot but a lot of very talented people worked very hard on it. And I’m thrilled with the result. We shot it in Scotland. We braved the weather — it rains all the time there, a terrible place to do an aerial sequence, which is why no one has sort of done it before. You usually wind up in the desert or something for very practical reasons. But it really came off. We got very lucky with the weather and a lot of good planning went into it. I think it had a very unique look.
While the prologue will introduce Bane, there's still the rest of the movie which co-stars Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Officer John Blake, Josh Pence as a young Ra's al Ghul, and Marion Cotillard as Wayne Industries board member Miranda Tate (but rumored to be Talia al Ghul). How those new characters will fit into the tapestry of what Nolan has created so far is unknown, though, as Nolan has previously revealed, the sequel will take place "eight years" after the events of The Dark Knight, and therefore will be a totally different place.
It will make a lot more sense to people when they see the film, but it’s not a great mystery — it’s the jumping-off point for the film — but it’s hard for me to articulate it. I think the mood at the beginning of the film will make a lot of sense. If I had to express it thematically, I think what we’re saying is that for Batman and Commissioner Gordon, there’s a big sacrifice, a big compromise, at the end of the The Dark Knight and for that to mean something, that sacrifice has to work and Gotham has to get better in a sense. They have to achieve something for the ending of that film — and the feeling at the end of that film — to have validity. Their sacrifice has to have meaning and it takes time to establish that and to show that, and that’s the primary reason we did that. It’s a time period that is not so far ahead that we would have to do crazy makeup or anything — which I think would be distracting — but it gave them something to get their teeth into, particularly Christian in terms of [portraying] this guy who has been frozen in this moment in time with nowhere to go. He really has done an incredible job figuring out how to characterize that and express that.