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As The Dark Knight Rises was shooting in what seemed like every major American city, we got a lot of glimpses at the new characters in the film, including Tom Hardy's Bane, Anne Hathaway's Catwoman, and even the mysterious character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who might turn out to be a villain but so far just seems to be a Mark Wahlberg impersonator. But we haven't really seen anything like the images on two separate covers of Empire Online, where readers voted to feature Bane and Batman himself on the cover for an issue that includes apparently a lot of info from The Dark Knight Rises.

We don't yet have the article or anything else from inside the issue, but in the meantime you can check out the two covers, and click on them for larger versions at Empire.





The obvious highlight for me is Bane, who looks almost otherworldly in his signature mask, with what looks like dirt speckled on his arm. No it's not actually revealing anything about the character we haven't seen-- we probably have to wait for the full issue for any hope of that-- but there's something about the quality of the photograph that makes Bane seem all the more intimidating and terrifying. The Batman photo has its good parts too-- what exactly is that glowing weapon he's holding?-- but it's all about Bane for me. I guess it is for everybody else too-- why else would a brand new villain be right up there with the hero himself in overall votes?

Though The Dark Knight Rises doesn't come to theaters until July 20 next year, there's a lot to look forward to from it soon, from this Empire cover story to the preview that will run before IMAX screenings of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol in December. Apparently it's never too early to start anticipating the return of the Bat.

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