First you had Ra's al Ghul and the Scarecrow. Then you had Two-Face and the Joker. For "The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third turn at Batman, the director tapped a familiar foe in Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) and a lesser-known one in Bane.

Longtime comic book readers might be familiar with Bane -- who was created by writers Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench and artist Graham Nolan and made his debut in the 1993 comic "Batman: Vengeance of Bane" -- but casual fans or folks who have only tuned in for Nolan's stunning Dark Knight movies might be in the dark about the monster-size villain.

Tom Hardy, who reunites with Nolan after working with him in "Inception," plays Bane and provides Batman's biggest physical challenge in this trilogy of Batman films.

So we will get you up to speed with five things you need to know about Bane:

1. This is not his first film

You'll be excused for not knowing or not remembering that Bane was in the dreadfully bad 1997 film "Batman & Robin" -- the one with George Clooney behind the cowl and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. He's more of a secondary bad guy there, and is taken down by Robin and Batgirl.

2. He grew up in prison

In the comics, Bane's pop was a revolutionary in the fictional Caribbean republic of Santa Prisca. After his dad managed to avoid prison, the government decided to imprison his son, who would grow up to become Bane.

3. He's not just some big, dumb guy

Bane put his time in prison to good use, not just by getting strong, but by studying a lot. He's said to be brilliant in science and speaks numerous languages.

4. He's an addict

While in prison, Bane was subjected to experiments in which he is forced to take the drug Venom, which amps up his strength. It's addictive, though, and he has to take it frequently. In "The Dark Knight Rises," Bane has a face mask that dispenses a painkilling gas.

5. He broke Batman's back

Bane was a centerpiece in "Knightfall," a huge Batman crossover in the 1990s. After a few months of Batman running himself ragged chasing down a lot of his enemies, Bane shows up, grabs Batman and smashes him down on his leg, breaking his back. But don't worry, he eventually gets better.

'Dark Knight Rises': What critics say

In his three-star review of "The Dark Knight Rises," which ran Wednesday, Newsday's Rafer Guzmán called it "a seriously grand send-off to the Caped Crusader." (Read the review at Here's a look at what some other critics had to say:

* A film of grand ambitions and epic achievement. -- Time magazine

* It's spectacular, to be sure, but also remarkable for its all-encompassing gloom. -- Wall Street Journal

* Big-time Hollywood filmmaking at its most massively accomplished. -- The Hollywood Reporter

* This is what summer popcorn movies were meant to be. -- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

* What worked beautifully in "The Dark Knight" seems overworked and almost ridiculously grim in "The Dark Knight Rises." -- Chicago Tribune

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