<strong><em>The Dark Knight Rises</em></strong> Bane Photo

Production recently began on Christopher Nolan's highly-anticipated superhero saga The Dark Knight Rises, and even though we're more than a year away from the July 20, 2012 release date, the viral campaign has already kicked in. Warner Bros. has launched an official website for The Dark Knight Rises, although it only contains a cryptic audio file. When deciphered, the voice is chanting "The fire rises," which leads to a Twitter account named @TheFireRises. That site links to another Warner Bros. site, which features an encrypted photo prompting users to tweet the hashtag #TheFireRises, which had to be done in order for this full shot to be revealed. The encryption has been decrypted and now we have the first photo of Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

With over a year to go before The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters, it seems there will be many more viral goodies in store for the fans. Stay tuned!