With the casting announcement of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy as Bane, the speculation begins on how these two pieces of the Batman universe will come together to create the puzzle that Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan have brewing in their minds. It’s a puzzle now confined to paper, but it’s a puzzle that demands solving nonetheless.
The way to solve it? Pure speculation.
The intriguing element to the casting has nothing to do with the actors or the fact that the characters have shown up in previous Batman movies. It has to do with the comic book history of Catwoman and Bane – and the minimal interaction they’ve had over the years.
Catwoman is a classic villain, created in 1940. Bane is a modern creation born in 1993. So which comic book storylines will the Nolans draw from to bring them together?
Catwoman and Bane have crossed paths before, so there’s a possibility that their storylines from “Catwoman” (from the series that was started the same year Bane was created) and “Batman: Knightfall” might come into play.
In “Knightfall,” Bane briefly approaches Catwoman during a robbery and requests that they work together. She refuses strongly on the ground that he’s the villain that (spoiler alert) broke Batman’s back (by cracking him wholesale over his knee). It’s a small moment, but it’s own that shows Selina Kyle’s loyalty to Batman and to Bruce Wayne.
Catwoman got her own series in 1993, and in one of the early issues, she works together with Bane only to betray him later on to Azrael (an assassin in a secret sacred order).
There’s, of course, the generic inference that the two would team up. It might make for the same sort of dramatic irony and contradiction that flows throughout Batman Returns where Bruce wants to date Selina, but Batman is fighting Catwoman in the streets. On the other hand, there’s just not much meat to the comic book stories of Catwoman and Bane teaming up.
Even if they do for The Dark Knight Rises, it might be under completely rewritten circumstances.
This is all assuming that Catwoman even makes a skin-tight appearance. After all, Nolan almost went an entire movie with Harvey dent before splitting his face in two.
Without reading too much into the official Warners press release mentioning Selina Kyle but not mentioning Catwoman, there’s always the chance that Kyle enters in as a love interest and stays out of the kitty litter for most of the movie.
Even better than the typical love interest, Selina might be the prostitute/accidental protege from “Batman: Year One.”
In that graphic novel, a plainclothes (pre-Batman) Bruce runs into Selina Kyle for the first time while searching through the East End trying to figure out how to be a crime-fighter. A pimp attacks him and is joined by his hookers (including bottom bitch, and head dominatrix Selina). This story becomes pivotal when he returns to his mansion, sees a bat land on a bust on his mantel, and he learns what he has to become.
That’s an origin story, but it’s one that could be reworked easily.
She remains a tangential part of the rest of the story, a gadfly seeking an odd brand of revenge on the Falcone crime family and committing a bunch of robberies around the city. Her life of crime doesn’t even begin until she’s inspired by Batman while he’s fighting the police (which is a perfect set-up for a movie where the cops are hunting him down).
The Man Who Broke The Bat
The most infamous Bane/Batman storyline is the aforementioned “Knightfall.” He, in some ways, is Batman’s Doomsday, except he’s not simply an unstoppable force. The Bane of the comics is a genius addicted to a steroid-like complex called Venom that makes him much, much larger than Sammy Sosa.
He’s from the fictional Latin American country of Santa Prisca and spends much of his back story in prison becoming obsessed with Gotham and Batman. After becoming the top dog of the inmates, the warden chooses to take care of him by injecting him with an experimental drug that has killed all other test subjects. Bane comes close to dying, but he survives and becomes completely dependent on it.
After hitting Gotham, Bane rises quickly to become the king pin of the criminal element in the city. This would fill the power vacuum left at the end of The Dark Knight nicely.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Bane releases all the inmates from Arkham in order to exhaust Batman and keep his attention occupied, and, after figuring out Batman’s secret identity (using super intelligence and a good tailing vehicle), lies in wait to attack him when he’s at his weakest.
And he wins.
Bruce Wayne is broken (literally) and left without use of his legs – leading him to allow Azrael to take over as Batman and hunt down Bane.
It’s unclear if that plot would ever even come near to The Dark Knight Rises since it’s so far away from where the movies are currently. Perhaps Bruce meets a young graduate student that he finds a trust with. Or perhaps that trust comes in the form of Selina Kyle who he eventually hands the cowl over to in order to take on Bane.
These are wild ideas, but they’ve existed in the comic book world, so they definitely aren’t out of the question completely.
If you want even crazier, the storyline of “Batman: Bane of the Demon” sees Bane long after the events finding out that his father might have been Dr. Thomas Wayne. A DNA test is done, and you’ll have to read the comic to find out if Batman and Bane are brothers.
Separate But Equal
The striking fact in all of this (and in what you can tell by each of these sections) is that Bane and Catwoman have very little to do with each other. It’s a casual relationship – the kind pretty much all the villains in the Batman universe have shared at one point or another.
Thus, the ultimate challenge for Christopher Nolan and company is to work two massively important characters into one single story line.
The biggest question mark comes from this being Nolan’s last Batman movie. Can he leave the franchise with a cliffhanger? Would it really take the entire movie to get Selina Kyle into her catsuit? Would he dare to have Batman left in a wheelchair, failing Gotham at the end? Or passing the torch?
All of the comic book inspiration is either generic or unthinkable for inclusion in The Dark Knight Rises. Selina Kyle is a perfect mirror for Bruce Wayne because she represents the darkness completely taking over. Bane is perhaps his most formidable foe – just as intelligent and physically superior. Those are big themes to grapple with, even if Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway never have a scene with each other. Plus, Batman still has to be on the run from the Gotham police.
If Catwoman and Bane do come together, it will most likely be as a flimsy alliance, or a brisk meeting that results in Bane’s offer to team up getting turned down.
Speculation aside, The Dark Knight left Bruce Wayne in need of redemption, and that’s what Bane offers. Selina Kyle may be a love interest or small nuisance or no villain at all, but Bane is the force that could bring the police force to its knees begging Batman to return and save them. It could be the destruction that makes a city cry out for a hero again.