Episode Number: 75
Original Air Date: September 10, 1994
Directed by: Kevin Altieri
Written by: Mitch Brian
First Appearance(s): Bane
Episode 75 brings us a relic from the 90s: Bane. Bane has always felt like the Omega Red of DC. He’s kind of cool looking, yet also lame at the same time. Both characters were introduced into the comics in the early 90s, then fast-tracked to their respective animated counterparts. In the case of Bane, basically a year elapsed between his debut and this episode’s airing, so it was likely in development not long after Bane’s lore was created. Either as an indictment of that lore, or because things were still in flux, this version of Bane is merely a basic representation of the character from the comics. His look is largely intact, save for the superficial difference of his mask featuring an exposed mouth, and he’ll rely on the serum Venom to augment his strength. Almost everything else is different, and arguably for the better. He’s a mercenary here, rather than a guy tormented by visions of a bat monster, and the episode has no need to dive deep into his origins. So much of Bane’s comic book back story strikes me as ridiculous, and it’s rightly ignored for this episode. It’s just possible the lot of it was ignored or glossed over for time constraints rather than because of its quality.
Bane, for all of his problems, is merely here to play the role of physical adversary for Batman. He can overpower Batman with no problem, and unlike a Killer Croc, he’s got brains to back-up his brawn. He’s portrayed as a tactician and takes to the task of destroying Batman in the way an expert hunter would approach its prey. It’s a unique approach for the series as really few have attempted to engage Batman in a similar manner. And for all his strength, Killer Croc has never been much of a problem for Batman in a fight. One could argue his toughest physical foe up to this point has been the ninja Kyodai Ken. Say what you will about Bane, he has a role to play on this show and it’s a role that had not been filled by anyone else.
This episode also marks the beginning of Fox’s third season of the show launched in September 1994. That makes “Bane” the first episode to feature the new opening. It’s set to Shirley Walker’s Batman theme, which some argue is superior to the Elfman theme. Obviously, Walker probably never would have arrived at this sound for her Batman theme without Elfman’s, but it’s a point worth taken. And even though I think this opening is inferior to the original, I do think it’s nice Walker’s theme got a chance to shine.
“Bane” begins inauspiciously at an airport. A rather large man emerges from a commercial flight and finds a car waiting for him. We don’t get a full-frame look at him, but get to see the vehicle buckle under his tremendous weight as he climbs in. Inside is a character we haven’t seen for quite some time. Candice (Diane Michelle), the assistant to Rupert Thorne whom we haven’t seen since “Two-Face,” welcomes the man. He sits beside her and speaks with a Spanish accent. She takes him to her employer, Thorne himself (John Vernon), who is in the middle of a work-out. His coach, in a bid to motivate Thorne to hit the punching bag harder, hits a sore spot when he brings up Batman and gets knocked out as a result. Thorne greets the big man, who we come to know as Bane (Henry Silva), and we find out he’s been hired to take out Batman. The caped crusader recently cost Thorne a lot of money, but he did manage to hang onto a suitcase full of diamonds which he uses to pay Bane. After payment, Bane hands over a newspaper with a cover story on Killer Croc, who recently escaped from Arkham (as we saw in “Trial,” he ended up there for some reason following the events of “Sideshow” in which he was supposed to be transferred to prison), and wants to know how he can find “the reptile.” Thorne isn’t really thrilled to see Bane targeting Croc when he’s supposed to be going after Batman, but Bane explains he wants to see the Batman in action before engaging him.
Apparently not one to sit around, Killer Croc (Aron Kincaid) has assembled a small gang and is either on the run from Batman and Robin or is in the midst of having a crime foiled. He’s being chased through a construction yard or factory of some kind, a typical nondescript backdrop for the show, and Croc demonstrates his own impressive strength by mangling a series of pipes and tossing them at Batman and Robin, scoring a direct hit. This gives Croc time to flee into the sewer. Wanting Batman to follow, he makes no attempt to hide his escape and is shown waiting in the sewers with a pipe in hand quietly urging Batman to come on in. Behind, the wall smashes in and in comes Bane. He’s dressed like a giant lucha-libre performer (Mexican wrestler) complete with mask and singlet. He announces that Batman is his to destroy, and when Croc retorts with “Over my dead body,” Bane responds with “As you wish.” He flicks a switch on a wrist contraption and a liquid starts pumping from it into a tube connected to the back of Bane’s skull. His muscles begin to bulge and the background turns bright red to heighten the apparent adrenaline rush Bane receives. He grabs Croc by the skull, his hand now large enough to palm it effortlessly, and shoves his head underwater.
By now, Batman and Robin have entered the sewer and we can hear the sounds of Croc being pummelled, Bane apparently not content to merely drown him. He soon floats into sight, but Bane is gone. As the two haul Croc out of the sewer, Robin wonders if there’s a new vigilante on the block while Batman remains silent. They arrive at the Batmobile to find it’s been smashed. It’s there Batman agrees with Robin that whoever stopped Croc is tough because he notes the damage to the Batmobile was done with bare hands.
Later on, Batman pays Croc a visit at Arkham where he’s looked better. His head is bandaged and he has a broken arm and leg both of which are being suspended by slings on pulleys. Batman wants to have a chat, but Croc is in no mood. Batman basically uses some mild torture by messing with the pulley which is enough to make him sing. Croc tells him about Bane, in particular about the drug that pumps him up, and also taunts Batman a bit as he’s convinced Bane will snap him in two once he gets his hands on him. Batman doesn’t seem too concerned and departs with a, “Later gator.”
At the Batcave, Robin is working on the Batmobile while Batman is at the computer. Alfred comes strolling in (feels like we haven’t seen him in awhile) and mentions something about Bane to Batman who makes a quip about it being personal now that he totaled his car (Batman is on point with the jokes so far). Batman, having heard enough from Croc, already knows everything there is to know about Bane as his computer reveals all. Bane is the only man to escape from some notorious prison in Cuba. It was there he was experimented on with the substance that will be identified as Venom. Since escaping, Bane has fashioned himself into a merc for hire, and a real expensive one at that. His price starts at 5 million a job, and when Batman questions who has that kind of money and a desire to kill him Alfred hands him a newspaper (this again?) that inexplicably has a headline that just reads Rupert Thorne.
At Thorne’s office, Candice is seated with Bane while he does curls with a massive dumbbell. Earlier, Thorne had offered Bane the “services” of his assistant and Bane appears to be taking full advantage of said services. Candice tells him that he could own this city, and she, once he takes out the Batman. When he asks her about her boss, she just says “accidents happen,” and plants a kiss on his exposed lips. Thorne then enters and Candice takes her leave. When Thorne casually says “He’s out there, Bane,” referring to Batman, Bane respond with a “Closer than you think.” Across the way, Robin has been eavesdropping the whole time and recording the conversation too. As he’s putting his equipment away he notices Candice leave in her own vehicle and the Batmobile then appears and follows her. Behind Robin, a red-eyed shadowy figure emerges and starts racing up behind Robin. He spins around at the last second to find Bane. He dodges Bane’s attack, but soon finds himself in his clutches. As Bane dangles him over the ledge, Robin is able swing between Bane’s legs and upend the big man. He wisely doesn’t try to pick a fight with Bane and flees to another rooftop. He hides behind some ventilation as Bane walks by, but when Robin tries to sneak away Bane is there to wrap him in a bear hug. He turns his back to the camera so we don’t see Robin get choked out. When he turns back around he’s cradling an unconscious Robin in his arms and makes a remark that he may prove useful to him as he walks off.
Batman has followed Candice back to her apartment. He enters and confronts the woman about Bane. She seems rather casual and plops herself down on the couch to watch cartoons (surprisingly, not another Warner cartoon) while Batman yaps on. She then tells him he has no chance against Bane. He’s studied him since he was in prison and is obsessed with taking him down (a slight nod to Bane’s comic origin, I suppose). As she goes on, the phone rings and she tells him that it’s probably for him. Batman answers and it’s Bane, who lets him know that if he were a sniper he’d already be dead. He then threatens to get him by getting to whom he values most. Batman is alarmed and looks out the window to see Robin’s shirt and cape draped over an antenna on a rooftop across the street. In an action that was actually amusing to me, Batman smashes Candice’s window rather than open it so he can fire his grapple gun to retrieve Robin’s garment. A note is affixed to it with Robin’s apparent location on it.
The note instructed Batman to head to a wharf where a ship called The Rose’s Thorn is docked. I don’t know if it’s Thorne’s ship or if Bane picked it because it reminds him of his employer. There Robin has been chained up with a massive weight chained to his ankles. Candice managed to beat Batman there and tries to remove Robin’s mask, but Bane stops her for no apparent reason. Robin is then lowered into a pool on the ship that has water pouring in. Soon enough he’ll be underwater with no apparent way to escape.
Batman arrives to see Robin and goes for him, but Bane soon announces his presence from the top of a mast. He activates the Venom and jumps down, the camera shaking as he lands on the deck. Batman is tentative, but goes in eventually. The fight turns into a faux wrestling match with Bane no-selling Batman’s strikes as if he were The Undertaker. He tosses Batman into the ship’s railing, which cartoonishly bends like wrestling ring ropes allowing Batman to rebound off of them into a massive clothesline from Bane. Batman gets up and uses some lucha-libre of his own with a series of head-scissor takedowns on Bane. Eventually, the enraged behemoth just catches Batman and heaves him into a bunch of crates. Among the rubble, Batman finds some device which turns out to be a grappling hook gun. He plunges it into Bane’s midsection and fires catapulting the villain from the deck to the water below.
With Bane out-of-the-way, Batman races to Robin’s aid and finds the water level has reached his chin. He dives in and starts prodding at the chains around Robin’s wrists, but the boy wonder quickly directs Batman to the weights on his ankles. Batman goes under water and finds the chains padlocked. Expecting him to go to his belt for something to break the lock or chain with, Batman surprises me by pulling out a set of keys. Did he remove them from Bane during the fight? He frees Robin, but while Batman is busy Bane re-emerges behind Candice, who looked like she was about to flee.
Bane waits for Batman to climb out of the pool before grabbing his head and tossing him. He merely kicks Robin back into the water, apparently not at all concerned about him. From the water, Robin spies Candice and beckons her into the water. For some reason she obliges, tossing aside her red pumps (but not her jacket) and dives in and the two start wrestling with each other. Likely owing to the show not wanting to show Robin assaulting a woman, Candice is shown to have the upper hand immediately.
On the deck, Batman and Bane have resumed their fight. Batman, apparently running out of ideas to confront this beast, tosses a Batarang at Bane who catches it. He crumples it in his hand and taunts Batman for trying to fight him with toys. Now clearly with the upper hand, Bane methodically beats on Batman though the camera is careful not to show anything particularly gratuitous. He grabs Batman by the shirt and demands he scream his name, but of course Batman isn’t about to do that. Looking to end the fight, Bane lifts Batman over his head and announces that he will break him. He assumes another classic pro-wrestling position, that of the backbreaker. It’s at this point those who were familiar with Bane’s presence in the comics may have actually fallen for the tease. In the books, Bane does indeed break Batman’s back across his knee, but he won’t be so lucky here. Batman, holding onto the mangled remains of his Batarang, uses it to stab the pump on Bane’s wrist. This causes it to go haywire and continuously pump Venom into Bane’s noggin. He drops Batman and starts freaking out as he can’t control the Venom. His muscles keep increasing and we return to the red background to focus in on Bane’s face. The red lenses over his eyes pop off as his eyes bug out and the whole sequence is rather freaky. He’s in obvious pain and in a state of panic, but he also is in a state of disbelief that he could be defeated. Taking apparent pity on him, Batman rips the tube out of Bane’s head causing the massive man to collapse and begin returning to a normal size. At the same time, Candice climbs out of the water with Robin right behind her. She takes off running and Robin is prepared to go after her but Batman stops him since he knows where she’s heading.
Batman drops by the office of Rupert Thorne on his way home. A still soaking wet Candice is cowering behind her boss’s chair as Batman presents the defeated Bane. He mocks Thorne as he pulls off Bane’s mask to reveal a baby-faced man beneath it who lets his head slam onto the desk. Still in a pretty good mood, Batman whips out a tape player and lets Thorne know he has a new release and even gives it a title, Better Luck Next Time. It’s the recording Robin made of Candice propositioning Bane where it’s insinuated they were going to knock-off Thorne. Batman then takes his leave while Thorne roars “Candice!”
And that’s all she wrote for Bane. He won’t show up again until the made for television move Mystery of the Batwoman which is part of The New Batman Adventures. I suppose it’s not surprising since Batman would be able to beat him the same way, kind of like how X-Men ruined The Juggernaut by revealing the blueprint for beating him in his first appearance. It’s also the final appearance for Candice, which is actually a little menacing. Did Thorne have her killed? If he really is a ruthless criminal he probably would. My guess is we’re supposed to assume she was fired. The ending scene feels like it’s played for laughs, but she just got caught plotting to have Thorne killed. He’s not going to let that slide.
The whole tone of this episode is really amusing to me, though not necessarily in a good way. Mitch Brian is the writer, and he previously wrote “On Leather Wings” and “P.O.V.” which were not particularly humorous. For this one he really went all-in on the wrestling motif of Bane with the fight scene especially looking silly. I like wrestling, but Batman rebounding off of steel railings like they’re ring ropes was pretty over the top and it takes me out of the scene every time. Batman is also jokey, which is unconventional, though his dry delivery to Alfred helps sell his car line. The “Later gator” line is way more playful, and pretty out of character. Not offensively so, but it is jarring. I wonder if some of the humor was intended to soften the menacing undertones of the episode where a contract killer is out to get him.
The way Bane is made a fool of, and subsequently not utilized again, leads me to the conclusion that the staff wasn’t too high on Bane. Was he forced upon them because of Knightfall? I don’t know if anything was necessarily mandated upon, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were encouraged to do Bane in season two. He’s fine, and the episode largely is as well. He’s not one of Batman’s greatest foes, but at least he’s not a big, dumb, strong man like so many similar villains. He didn’t need to come back, and I’m fine with this being his lone appearance. Not to be forgotten, this also marks Killer Croc’s final appearance in this show. Unlike Bane though, he’ll return in The New Batman Adventures where a reboot is sorely needed. He’s turned into a silly character who isn’t a threat to Batman despite his appearance. Most of all though, I’ll actually miss Candice. She’s just so nasty and a natural bad girl that it’s a shame she and Thorne were separated. It might have been fun to see her resurface with one of Thorne’s rivals down the road, but alas it was not to be, so pour one out for Candice.