The brains behind Bane, The Dark Knight’s greatest villain!

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July 19, 2012

Comic artist Graham Nolan brought this summer’s biggest movie villain to life in the pages of Batman. Here, in a special extended edition of an interview with WWE Magazine, he talks about the character’s secret sports-entertainment origins, his big-screen incarnation and why he endures today. (SUBSCRIBE TO WWE MAGAZINE)

WWE MAGAZINE: How did the character of Bane first come into being?

GRAHAM NOLAN: If you’re trying to figure out who Batman can go toe-to-toe with physically and mentally, the answer was a character called Doc Savage. He was a pulp magazine character from the 30s. He was a good guy, and he was super-strong, the epitome of human perfection, but he was also a genius. My co-creator Chuck Dixon was the one who said, "Why don’t we make an evil Doc Savage?"

WWE MAGAZINE: The original look of Bane has a very luchador feel. Was that intentional?

NOLAN: I got the outline from Chuck and I knew that there was a South American influence there and that he had to have the ports in the back of the head to deliver the Venom [serum that gives the comic character his super-human abilities]. For the pants, I went with sort of a loose-fitting military design and then the wrestling singlet on top. Lucha libre was definitely a starting point for me. Because the character is South American and has lived his entire life from childhood in the Santa Prisca prison. So, the way I rationalized it was, if he had been exposed to any kind of masks or costuming, that’s what it would have been from. In fact, the original drawing for Bane had his mask open, where the eyes, nose and mouth were open in a true wrestling mask fashion. The reasons I did that were a) I was thinking wrestling and b) I’d be able to show more expression on his face. But the editors decided to go with a more mysterious look and now we have the mask that we know today.

WWE MAGAZINE: Bane is one of the, if not the, most enduring Batman villains of the past 20 years. Why do you think that’s the case?

NOLAN: Batman always had the greatest rogue’s gallery of all the comic book characters. But there was never anyone who could challenge him on equal footing. The Joker was probably Batman’s main villain throughout the years, and he was almost Batman’s opposite. Batman was order, the Joker was chaos. But Bane came along and now we have someone who not only could match Batman physically, but mentally, he’s as brilliant as they come and he also has the cunning and conniving aspect that some of the other villains have had. So he’s kind of an amalgam of all the villains that Batman could face. And that’s why people kind of took to him. It was like, "Wow, here’s someone who can present a real threat to Batman."

WWE MAGAZINE: That certainly seems to be the case for The Dark Knight Rises. Are you looking forward to that movie?

NOLAN: I’m very excited. I think they got the character right. It sounds like it from every trailer I’ve seen and reading what [director] Christopher Nolan and Tom Hardy [who plays Bane in the film] have said. It sounds like they really, really get who Bane is.

For more features and coverage of all things WWE, subscribe to WWE MAGAZINE. And check out Graham Nolan’s latest work, Joe Frankenstein (it’s about monsters and it looks awesome), at www.joefrankenstein.com.

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