Besides chin-seeking missiles and a forensic audit of Wayne Enterprises, the biggest threats to Batman are the Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, and Bane because they all challenge a core aspect of his personality. Joker, with his insanity, capricious nature, and volatility, is almost the exact opposite of the order-obsessed Bruce. He’s the Anti-Batman. Conversely, Ra’s al Ghul is too obsessed with control, wanting to impose it on the entire world. He is the Extreme Batman (not to be confused with X-Treme! Batman, who rides a bat-skateboard and drinks so much Bat-tain Dew that his bat-piss glows in the dark.) And then there’s Bane.

Bane is essentially the Mirror Batman, made up of nearly all the same components as the original, only put together differently to create, if we’re being honest, a superior superhero.

The similarities between Bane and Batman go far beyond them sharing the first two letters of their name (though they do stand for Bad-Ass in both cases.) It’s like this. Batman is essentially Zorro, right? A vigilante dressed in black with a rich guy public persona, a loyal servant, a secret cave, and a cool mode of transport. Well, Bane also has a literary inspiration, in that he is essentially the Count of Monte Cristo (in the comics; in the Nolan movie, he is a murderous granny who likes to knit.) Like in the Alexandre Dumas novel, he spent years in prison in the fictional Latin-American country of Santa Prisca, where he mastered everything from languages to philosophy, chemistry, and mathematics, only to escape and become a vehicle for terror and vengeance.

But his backstory is so much more effed up. Bane was literally born in prison after his pregnant mother was imprisoned instead of his fugitive revolutionary father under the fourth amendment of Santa Prisca’s constitution that says, “If a crime is committed, someone is getting metaphorically punched in the nuts for it. Doesn’t really matter who. Flip a coin for all I care. Just make sure a cell has a body in it.” Well, Bane’s mom’s cell soon had two bodies in it, which quickly fell to one again after this Latino Batman in the making watched his parent die … with the enthusiasm of being forced to sit through a documentary on the history of accounting. After a whole life spent in a hell-hole prison, all Bane felt for his dying mother was contempt because she wasn’t strong enough to survive.

Bane wouldn’t make that mistake. To live, he killed a man at age 8, spent decades doing nothing but exercising and meditating instead of sleeping, and devouring every book in the prison. So, like Batman, he is a self-made man, the pinnacle of humanity both mentally and physically. Hell, the two are so similar that there was a time when they thought they might be long-lost half-brothers. They probably also both saw a picture of Thomas Wayne and logically concluded that that is the face of a man who gets around.

DC Comics

It turns out that Thomas wasn’t Bane’s father (it’s actually some dweeb calling himself King Snake), but this is also why Bane is superior to Batman. The former never had the Wayne family fortune cushion that Bruce could have fallen back on. We know Batman traveled the world and ran with criminals to learn their ways and was in many life-threatening situations. But he always had the option of calling Alfred and going home. Bane went through hell and molded himself into the perfect human being without a safety net.

Yes, he did also have his super steroid Venom, but comic-book Bane actually went YEARS without using it (it keeps coming back depending on the writer). Also, Batman himself used Venom at one time and got totally hooked on it, resulting in some of the greatest comic book art in existence.

DC Comics

That’s a very rough and dirty intro to Bane, who over the years has oscillated between a villain, an anti-hero, and even a straight-up hero. And absolutely no piece of fiction, I mean NOT ONE, has gotten the character right. Every interpretation has taken parts of him, but no one has ever given us the fascinating whole. This may change in 2022 in an as-of-yet unspecified Bane project is rumored to be coming to HBO Max. We don’t know if it’s going to be a movie or a limited series or something else, but if they get it right, it’s definitely going to be one hell of a ride.

Just one thing: please don’t cast Dave Bautista as Bane. Please find a Hispanic or Latino actor to play him. If we are okay with actors over 50 (which Bautista is), then, hey, Javier Bardem is a) available, b) wonderful, c) I love him. So let’s get him an HBO Max project done right and no one’s Hollywood house has to catch on fire because someone released cobras with flamethrowers strapped to their heads into it. 

Follow Cezary on Twitter.

Top Image: DC Comics

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