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First image of Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises

The first image of Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises has landed online... and it's seriously exciting stuff.

The movie's official site has been gradually revealing the image, but some sneaky so-and-so on the Arkham City message board has found the whole image.

Unsurprisingly, it's absolutely awesome.

Hardy doesn't even need to look at the camera to exude toxic levels of menace, and it looks like Nolan and co have admirably risen to the task of making the Venom-enhanced super-soldier work within the series' reality-based aesthetic.

It looks like that time Hardy's been putting in at the gym has been well spent too...

We literally couldn't be more excited for The Dark Knight Rises , which is due to hit cinemas on 20 July 2012.

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