He's a proper actor
The Awesome: When Tom Hardy was first attached to The Dark Knight Rises , no one knew what role he'd take. Many presumed that a character actor like Hardy wouldn't be playing a larger-than-life villain, so his casting as Bane is a welcome surprise.
Hardy grabbed headlines after Inception , but he'd been proving himself as an intense screen presence for some time ( Bronson , The Take , Wuthering Heights ). Much like Heath Ledger, Hardy's a slightly leftfield choice, but he'll be perfect match for Christian Bale in terms of age, physique and screen intensity. Bring it on.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Expect Hardy to 'do a Clooney' and become inexplicably awful...
Best of British
The Awesome: Call us xenophobic if you will, but we can't help but get excited when one of our fellow countrymen becomes one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood. He should feel right at home with Nolan (yeah, he's a dual-citizen but we're claiming him as our own).
The director has populated his bat-blockbusters with British talent: Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, (plus Irishman Cillian Murphy)... It's good to see that the success of The Dark Knight hasn't affected Nolan's casting instincts.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Bane would probably be earmarked as a comeback role for The Governator...
Dream a little bigger
The Awesome: Did anybody out there watch Inception and not find themselves wishing that Tom Hardy would star in pretty much every upcoming project? Unsurprisingly, he picked the most exciting movie in development for his next big role.
Stealing a movie out from underneath Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no mean feat, and after smugly purring his way through the year's most exciting blockbuster as forger Eames, it'll be great to see him cut loose as the Venom-pumped muscleman.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: He would have to cast someone from his last big hit, which was, erm...
The Awesome: In the history of the Batman comics, Bane is the villain who's come closest to destroying the Dark Knight. In the famous three-part comic run, Knightfall , Bane broke the Caped Crusader's back over his knee after a brutal fight in the Batcave.
Nolan has previously stated that this is set to be his final installment in the franchise: could he have something nasty in store for Bruce Wayne?
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: He didn't seem to pay any attention to the character's comic-book origins when he introduced him as a grunting goon in Batman & Robin .
The Awesome: Hardy bulked himself up formidably to play the infamous inmate in Bronson . After packing on 42 lbs of muscle and shaving his head, the pretty-boy actor was virtually-unrecognisable.
Beyond the physical transformation, Hardy was terrifying in a challenging, multi-faceted role. He should bring the same physicality and charisma to Bane, who'll be the out-and-out toughest villain that Bale's Batman has ever faced.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Hardy wouldn't have to worry about bulking up, as he'd be wearing a formed-rubber muscle-suit (with bonus codpiece).
... and Brain
The Awesome: Despite what you may have been left thinking after Batman & Robin , the Bane of the comics was an extremely intelligent adversary. He was one of the few rogues to ever discover Batman's true identity.
Knowing Nolan's cerebral approach to blockbusting entertainment, he's sure to make the most out of this side of the villain. Bane's brilliant, calculating mind will hopefully appease some of the fanboys who were hoping for The Riddler, and he'll be a stark contrast to Ledger's chaotic Joker.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Hardy would be practising his best grunting sounds right now.
The Awesome: We wouldn't want anything to upset the reality-based world that Nolan has built for the franchise, as it's been such an effective backdrop for this interpretation of the character.
In his comic origins, Bane was brought up in a Caribbean prison, where he honed his mind and body to perfection. He becomes the top dog of the establishment, before he's further bulked up when he's made the test subject of a mysterious serum known as Venom. Nolan won't have to leap too far into fantasy to fit Bane into his world.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Bane would become a day-glo monstrosity to fit in with his über-campy surroundings.
The Awesome: While pumping himself up to superhuman levels in prison, Bane becomes obsessed with Gotham City, as he believes it's a place where fear rules (much like prison), and since childhood his dreams have been haunted by a bat, so it's no surprise he's fascinated by Gotham's Dark Knight.
This fits perfectly with Nolan's vision of a Gotham that's ruled by fear, and watched over by a suitably intimidating defender.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Bane would have to be obsessed with stage musicals to want to seek out Gotham.
The Awesome: Bane has huge movie potential. In the Knightfall story arc, he decides to weaken Batman by breaking down the walls of Arkham Asylum, leaving the Dark Knight struggling to clear the 'colourful' escapees off the streets.
Will this be an opportunity for a large-scale set-piece? Will Nolan bring back Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow to complete his hat-trick? Don't be surprised if the city's iconic nuthouse plays a vital part in The Dark Knight Rises ...
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: You'd just avoid this and stick to playing the superb Arkham games.
The Awesome: During one of his comic runs, Bane actually ended up teaming with Batman to take down a Venom-pushing gang. If Nolan does decide he wants to carry on with the series, Bane gives him plenty of options.
There was also a storyline where Bane found out that a certain Dr Thomas Wayne got close to his mum, and the big lug starts to suspect he could be the Bat's half-brother. Don't expect Nolan to go with this plot, but he wouldn't have cast Hardy if he just wanted to use him as a muscular henchman.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing? It'd probably turn out like an episode of Jerry Springer.
Nolan's behind him
The Awesome: Let's be honest, whatever Nolan decided he was going to go with Part III was almost guaranteed to be amazing. Batman Begins was such a good reboot that it inspired a whole bunch of lesser re-dos. The Dark Knight took advantage of Begins superb set-up and delivered a stonking sequel.
With Nolan's Inception star joining the team, Anne Hathaway slinking into the role of Catwoman, and Bale donning the cape again, this has re-asserted itself at the top of our 'Can't Bloody Wait' list.
If Joel Schumacher Was Directing: Erm, he wouldn't be Nolan.