Though Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is widely revered as a great movie, there are few that would claim that it lived up to the film’s pre-release hype. Of course, it should be noted that to live up to said hype the movie would have had to cure cancer and rescue dozens of puppies from a burning orphanage, but that’s neither here nor there. Fans collectively seem pretty content with the way Nolan opted to end his Batman trilogy, especially because he’s one of the few filmmakers willing to introduce a major character into a comic book movie without wasting valuable screen time by retelling an origin story that’s available to anyone with an Internet connection or a sizable comic book collection.
Or is he?
According to a recent GQ interview with The Dark Knight Rises’ costume designer Lindy Hemming, it seems that the original plan was to rehash the origin of the film’s main villain, Tom Hardy’s Bane, but that these scenes were cut from the final version of the film. Hemming offers the following description:
There were two things about his clothes. The first thing is that they should be pretty undefined in date and where they came from, other than perhaps north of Asia.
The other thing that you should have seen during that sequence is him being injured in his youth. So one of the fundamental things about his costume is that he has this scar from the back injury. Even if he hasn’t got the bulletproof vest on, he still has to wear the waist belt and the braces. In that scene in the prison, where he’s learning to fight the same way Batman learned to fight, he’s wearing an early version of his waist belt. It’s showing support, but it’s not the finished one he eventually wears. He’s also wearing an early version of his gas mask, all glued together.
If you look at the film, unless they’ve cut it—and I’m sure they haven’t—there’s a whole early section for Tom Hardy where he’s fighting and being taunted by people. He’s got chains on him, and he’s standing on a wooden thing while people are attacking him. And in that scene, he’s wearing a much more ragged, primitive version of the mask.
When it was revealed to Hemming that these scenes were, in fact, excised from the final cut of The Dark Knight Rises, she expressed sadness, before dropping another hint at how Nolan had originally planned to tell the Bane origin tale:
Well that’s an awful shame, but I suppose you have to cut things. I won’t elaborate on it too much, because it isn’t in the film, but there was another section that showed you why he had the mask and where it came from.
As Bleeding Cool points out, with the film’s 3-hour-plus runtime the inclusion of Bane’s origin likely would have made the flick far too long for mortal attention spans. Likewise, the site also notes that anyone with a functional browser already has access to Bane’s origin in full. Wikipedia offers a useful synopsis, though it basically boils down to “Bane was raised in prison, educated in a vast range of subjects, eventually rose to control the various prison gangs around him, then got hooked on a synthetic drug that massively boosted his strength and endurance. Also, this one time, he totally broke Batman’s spine.” Nolan’s vision of Bane seemingly ditches the steroid allegory, though the rest of it seems like a perfectly valid backstory for the character seen in The Dark Knight Rises.
While these origin scenes did not appear in the theatrical version of Nolan’s film, it’s entirely possible that they may show up on the eventual Blu-ray release of the movie as bonus material. Obviously we can’t guarantee anything, but with Nolan moving away from making movies about a crazy vigilante who dresses up like a bat and punches people in the face it makes sense that the movie’s producers would want to market any extraneous scraps from the movie that were left on the cutting room floor.
Sadly, it also makes sense that the aforementioned producers might hold off on releasing this footage alongside the initial home video release. A trilogy box set of Nolan’s Batman movies is almost inevitable, and what better way to promote such a presumably pricey compilation than by telling the world that this collection is the only way to see the deleted scenes we’ve been discussing?