From the moment The Dark Knight Rises kicked off it was clear a major effort had been made to differentiate Tom Hardy's Bane as much as possible from Heath Ledger's Joker. The moment audiences heard him speak, we knew this time Batman was going to be up against a totally different, more directed villain.
First appearing relatively late on in the Batman mythos (his defining Knightfall arc came in 1993, recent compared to Joker's 1940 unveiling), he was an out there choice for the villain of Christopher Nolan's trilogy ender. But given the film's focus on pain (after the first two films explored fear and chaos respectively) he soon became obvious as a natural fit to the story.
Unlike Ledger, who was met with Ben Affleck levels of animosity, Tom Hardy's casting as the Latino muscle man didn't disgruntle fans all that much. That probably says a lot about where Bane lies in audiences hearts, but maybe we all deep down knew just how unrecognisably brilliant he'd be in the role.
Spinning off from my article on Heath Ledger, here are eight amazing things Tom Hardy did to make his performance that little bit more special (and, yes, Joker challenging).
Honourable Mention - Tattoos
This really needs a mention as it's one of the few elements Hardy brought to the role that actually could have hampered Bane's effect. Look at any photo of Tom Hardy topless (and there's a high number of them out there) and the first thing you'll notice is he has a remarkable amount of tattoos. I'm talking a number that has David Beckham crying overkill.
You'd think the easy way for Bane to appear inkless (because what sane tattoo artist would go near him with a needle) would be make up, but some production stills clearly show Hardy on set with Mother Mary on full show, suggesting it was a post production job with the art CGId out.