This is a crowded blockbuster summer, but Summer 2012 was always going to be a two-horse race. While The Avengers is already setting box office records and pleasing crowds the world over, focus will soon shift to Chris Nolan’s conclusion to his Batsaga with The Dark Knight Rises. Avengers turned out to be a fairly straightforward (and phenomenal) summer flick. By contrast, nothing seems straightforward about Rises. A large part of that has to do with Bane, a villain few would have suspected Nolan would turn to following Heath Ledger’s incredible Joker. But Tom Hardy is a great actor in his own right, so while people voice concerns about Bane’s voice (myself included), it amounts to a performance I want to see more than any other this summer.

Which is why I wanted to share excerpts from Hardy’s Entertainment Weekly interview for their annual Summer Movie Preview. There are some interesting tidbits and I’ve cherrypicked them for you here:

On Nolan insisting Hardy wear a mask in the role: “I think he worried it would be something I might not consider because wearing a mask might damage my career or something. He thought I’d be worried that the audience couldn’t see my beautiful face… Like I care. It’s Chris Nolan! I would wear a paper bag over my head for that man.”

On the voice: “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… It’s a risk, because we could be laughed at—or it could be very fresh and exciting… As the film progresses, I think you’ll be able to tune to its setting.”

On Bane’s mysterious motivations and how moviegoers might react: “I think the politics of the film are going to be hotly debated one way or another, as they were in the last film… 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… 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 jokes. He’s a very clean, clear villain.”

Even after three trailers, I still can’t get a read on this film. On one hand, the concept of terrorists overtaking Gotham has been played out. But I’m extremely intrigued by Nolan’s inclusion of [spoiler] Talia al Ghul and the League of Shadows [/spoiler]. Not to mention my longstanding theory that [potential spoiler] Ra’s al Ghul will be revealed as the real villain of the piece [/potential spoiler]. Still (and fanwank aside), we’re two-and-a-half-months away from this film and all we know is that Bane is the villain and Catwoman is there too.