One of the best parts about movies is, in my opinion, the costuming. Just think how important costumes are – would Daniel Radcliffe be Harry Potter without his glasses on, or would we even believe that Scarlett O’Hara was a selfish, upper-class Southern girl if she wore maid’s clothes? Heck, costumes are so important that they even have their own award at the Oscars.
That’s why when I saw The Dark Knight Rises in the theatres I actually spent a second or two investigating each new costume that appeared on the screen. I adored Selina Kyle’s classy, Audrey Hepburn-style dresses and accessories, that is when she wasn’t kicking ass in her (thankfully) full-coverage Catwoman disguise. However, what really piqued my interest was Bane’s entire ensemble and how much it horrifically reminded me of soldiers’ uniforms from central and eastern Europe during World War II.
Apparently, I was not too far in my thinking. In a recent interview with GQ, The Dark Knight Rises‘s costume designer, Lindy Hemming, said that the costuming department specifically looked for the type of military coats that people would wear in Eastern Europe or Northern Pakistan, “where [mercenaries] find military surplus and wear it” (GQ). Hemming also said that Christopher Nolan asked for Bane’s outfit to be a bit reminiscent of the French Revolution, so she tried to envision and create a coat that had a high collar which then bends back down. Finish Bane off with pants tucked into army boots and some heavy knee pads and you’ve got one scary-looking son of a bitch.
But what about Bane’s funky-looking belt and gas mask? That’s a good question. One that was apparently answered during the filming of the movie, and yet, all of those scenes were excluded from the final cut. Hemming expressed her disappointment in this decision and said that there was originally a lot more backstory for Bane.
In regards to his belt, she pointed out that it was a combination belt and back brace for whatever injury happened to his back to cause the scars we see. She said, “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” (GQ).
As for Bane’s gas mask, Hemming explained that one scene shot for the film clearly showed Bane being beaten by people while he was wearing an early version of his mask. She also said that there was an entire other scene to help clarify where the mask even came from, and why he has to wear it.
I believe it’s a shame that these scenes were not included in the final cut of the film because the clothes really do make the man. Without the information about why Bane wears a gas mask or a brace belt for his scars and back, he suddenly becomes a little less intimidating, and also a little less goal-oriented. Is what he’s doing in TDKR affected by more than the little bit of his past that was revealed to us? We don’t know and can’t know yet, but hopefully the producers will realize this aspect of Bane’s character is necessary for developing the overall story and legend of the Batman legacy and include these cut scenes as special features in the DVD release.