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In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane's ailment is never explained. All we know is that his breathing apparatus keeps him alive (and pain free).

What happened to Bane that requires him to wear such an apparatus? How close is the depiction in the film to that present in the comics?

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“All we know is that his breathing apparatus keeps him alive” — is that stated in the film? –  Paul D. Waite Jan 6 at 14:49
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7 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Bane suffered a vicious attack earlier in his life, as depicted in the film. This then causes him permanent severe pain. From then on, he needs to always wear the mask, as it provides him with relief from the pain:

Nolan has revealed that Hardy's audio-muffling mask is actually pumping Bane's body full of anaesthetic. "Bane is ravaged by pain from a trauma suffered long ago," he explains.

From here.

The film Bane is largely similar to early Bane in the comics. In the comics, his mask is basically a Luchador mask. In his early appearances, he had a tube that went from a device on his forearm to the back of his head. This administered a drug called Venom, which was responsible for his superhuman strength, along with providing superhuman regeneration. He later stops taking Venom, as it's highly addictive, and he attributes some of his defeats to its influence. After freeing himself from Venom, he becomes a bit more of an anti-hero instead of a straight villain that he was in his initial appearances. In addition to his strength, the Bane of the comics is a genius, having spent his youth developing his mind in addition to his physique.

His initial appearance was in the Knightfall story arc where he wears down Batman and eventually breaks his back. He accomplishes this by first releasing the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Batman spends 3 months capturing the escapees, exhausting himself in the process. Then Bane ambushes him. Bane had deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman, and attacked him in Wayne Manor. Due to his superior strength and fighting skills, along with Batman's exhaustion, Bane defeated Batman and broke his back. This is echoed in the film, but doesn't play out exactly the same way.

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According to this site, which is in turn citing a tie-in book called The Dark Knight Rises: The Secret Files Scrapbook, this is the reason Bane wears the mask:

...he must wear a breathing apparatus that feeds him with pain relieving gas due to an old injury. He's never been photographed without his mask and only a handful of people have seen his face.

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This is correct, and is explicit in the movie. –  dlanod Jul 21 '12 at 9:20
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In the Batman comics, Bane wears a full mask that doesn't seem to serve any purpose than to disguise his identity. He's also huge -- much larger overall in every dimension than his movie counterpart. Remember Bane is a user of the Venom drug, though, so it's hard to tell what negative effects it's had on him overall.

My best guess to the purpose of the mask is to make viewers wonder-- if you cannot see Bane's mouth, you want to know why you can't see it. This problem, not knowing, has been known to drive people mad. (Nathaniel Hawthorne published a successful short story about this weird phenomena.)

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+1 for the great literary reference ;) –  Abby T. Miller Jul 20 '12 at 14:18
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Bane wears the mask, because as seen in the film (and you can read it online on the Dark Knight Rises database), Bane was left with spinal injuries — hence the big scar up his back; and after successfully surgery, Bane is left in severe pain… so he uses the mask to breath in a pain-relieving chemical to keep his pain at bay.

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Id say this is a more detailed answer in reference to the movie –  howler Oct 14 '13 at 14:01
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So basically bane breathes in venom to stop himself feeling pain

Venom is a pain relieving chemical that gives bane superhuman strength an is responsible for how fast he is

When bane was younger he used to fight a lot of men at the age of 10 to protect a girl he beat the men up but they used to still hurt bane.Bane went to the doctors and they gave him a mask that he breathes in a pain relieving chemical that stops him

That's why in the dark night rises towards the end when batman punches bane round the face you an hear gas coming out and bane starts to get weaker and weaker but he still decides to fight batman. Batman beats him up and then this girl that bane used to protect stabs batman and says a few words and then bane starts crying because it had reminded him of when he was younger

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The breathing mask was only used in the movie. The venom he has pumped into him in other placed is injected into his body, not in gas form the mask is only to hide his face and ID.

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How some supporting references to your statement about 'other places' ? You don't seem to have supplied anything new that wasn't already stated in a different way in the already accepted answer. –  Stan Nov 15 '13 at 1:08
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In the movie dark knight rises..bane is seen wearing a bracelet on his right hand as same as shown in comics and other hand when he is showing back to viewers in sewer a huge scar is shown running from his skull to his back...that scar must not be a ordinary scar it must have hidden a small pipe that injects venom drug to his skull that may be the best reason for his back scar

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This may or may not be true, but it doesn't answer the question of what happened to him that requires him to breathe using an apparatus? –  phantom42 Jan 6 at 14:17
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