Tom Hardy is 5 feet 9 inches tall. I am an inch shorter than this man. I say this because time and again I have been described as a man of below average height – which is true – yet, Tom Hardy is only an inch taller. I take this as an empowering piece of information.
Despite Hardy’s height impediment, he is one of the most physically imposing actors I have seen on the screen – I put him up there with Arnold Schwarzenegger. His performance in Bronson echoed that of a young Robert De Nero, as did his impressive turn in Warrior – but for me, it’s his turn as Bane that shows how special he is.
I love The Dark Knight Rises – I think it is brilliant, ambitious and most of all brave. I also admit that the film is very much flawed, but not to the extent some believe it is. For instance, I do not think that there is much technical difference between The Dark Knight Rises and its much celebrated predecessor, The Dark Knight. The only difference to my mind is Heath Ledger.
Now when I think of The Joker, I don’t think of the comic book incarnations or Jack Nicholson for that matter, I think of Ledger – that tells you what a hell of a job he did in TDK. But Tom Hardy has done the same thing for the character Bane.
I can safely say, hand on heart, that if I was walking down the street late at night, I’d be more scared of the brute slowly walking towards me with his hands on the collars of his jacket than the bloke skipping and laughing next to him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d brown my pants if I encountered both of them – but Hardy’s Bane strikes me with more fear.
I fear Bane more because it doesn’t take much to imagine a real life version of this character – and many of them at that. I don’t believe there many Joker’s in this world, this is despite the horrible events of the Aurora shooting.
Bane is a terrorist. He is smart, he is manipulative and his logic makes a warped kind of sense. While The Joker had no motive or ideology other than to create chaos – the presence of such things in Bane utterly terrifies me.
It is the rooting of this character in a post 9/11 reality and the addition of a physical menace that makes him special. Honest to god, he scares me.
Let’s also not forget that all of Hardy’s performance was with a mask on. He had to portray a range of feelings with a mask on. I mean, stand in front of a mirror with a balaclava over your mouth – now act angry, tough, surprised, calm, worried, sad and happy. It isn’t as easy as it looks.
I accept that the voice is an acquired taste – I liked it, but I understand why it has been ridiculed. I don’t think the character would have been as menacing if he had an American or British accent. Maybe they were going for a non-Arabic foreign accent. Since 9/11, the foreign is a lot more threatening than the domestic.
I truly believe that in time people will start to see The Dark Knight Rises the same way they see The Dark Knight – as a generational defining movie with outstanding performances. I accept that Hardy’s Bane will never be as beloved as Ledger’s Joker, and that is ok, but I feel his character and his work on that film deserves a lot more respect that it has gotten.