Critics are hailing "The Dark Knight Rises" as an example of filmmaker Christopher Nolan at his best. But even the most impressed among them has noted that the 2012 follow-up to 2008's "The Dark Knight" lacks the special quality Heath Ledger brought to that blockbuster Batman film.
Ledger, who died the same year the film was released, turned in an Oscar-winning performance as "The Dark Knight's" villain, the Joker.
When "The Dark Knight Rises" opens this week, moviegoers will be introduced to Tom Hardy's brutal Bane, and the actor told CNN at the film's premiere on Monday that he's feeling the pressure having to be the bad guy after Ledger's spectacularly unhinged one.
"Of course, the work that Heath did was so incredible and it was brilliant," Hardy said. "And it's unfortunate that he's not with us today as well, so there's a double bind there in many ways."
But, Hardy went on, "if anything, it's a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to sort of follow in the footsteps of somebody who was so brilliant. So I'm just grateful to be part of the family, actually, the Batman, Chris Nolan family. And that I got brought in to be the villain in this film."
If all goes well, Hardy added, audiences will despise him.
"Hopefully!" he told CNN. "One way or the other they will!"