When a movie has a villain as iconic as Heather Ledger's Joker was for "The Dark Knight," the next act can be an impossible one to pull off. He played such an essential role in the phenomenon the movie became that it's no wonder such a fuss was made over Tom Hardy, Bane and that voice of his.

How could anyone top the Joker? The simple answer is: you can't. So Christopher Nolan and Hardy did the wise thing and took the character in an entirely different direction. As Hardy told Entertainment Weekly as part of their Summer Movie Preview, Bane is an entirely different animal.

"The Joker didn't care — he just wanted to see the world burn, and he was a master of chaos and destruction, unscrupulous and crazy. Bane is not that guy," Hardy said. "There is a very meticulous and calculated way about Bane. There is a huge orchestration of organization to his ambition. He is also a physical threat to Batman. There is nothing vague about Bane. No joke. He's a very clean, clear villain."

From the way Hardy describes his character, the Joker may have been the dog chasing the car with no idea of what to do with it, but Bane is the guy who's going to blow up the road. He knows exactly what he wants to do, and for fans, that should be a welcome change.

A change that didn't earn much praise was the much-maligned voice Hardy used for Bane. The EW article describes the creative choice as one that harkens back to "the comic character's brains and heritage, albeit in an elliptical way. He wanted a sound that conveyed both malevolence and old-soul wisdom."

The voice, to Hardy at least, was a simple choice between what was expected and what was interesting. "There were two doors we could walk through. We could play a very straightforward villain or we could go through this very quirky door, which is totally justified by the text, but may seem very, very stupid," Hardy told EW. "It's a risk, because we could be laughed at — or it could be very fresh and exciting."

What really stands out in Hardy's interview about Bane is how well-conceived the character appears to be. There is an ideal driving him. The Joker's lack of an ideal drove him and made him a classic character because of it, but when it's Bane's role to follow that, the polar opposite could do what seemed impossible. Bane, in his "absolute evil" way, may be an appropriate next step for the series and its villains.

And if you're still worried about the voice, Hardy has two words for you: Chill out. "The audience musn't be too concerned about the mumbly voice," he said. "As the film progresses, I think you'll be able to tune to its setting."

Do you think the Joker/Bane comparison is fair? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me @KPSull!

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