After an unexciting press release on Thursday which announced the beginning of production for The Dark Knight Rises, fans went into overdrive to channel their inner bat-detective. If you're like us and visited the film's official website, you also came across an ominous black image with some really weird chanting.

A fan over at SuperHeroHype was able to look at the visual spectrum of that audio file and discovered a Twitter hashtag. When tweeted, the hashtag, #TheFireRises, slowly revealed, pixel by pixel, a new image. As of publication, here's how the image looks so far. You can see the final result above: our first look at Tom Hardy as the villainous Bane.

It seems that the studio is following in the footsteps of The Dark Knight by continuing the tradition of promoting an intriguing viral campaign that keeps fans both guessing about the movie and joining in on the fun as The Dark Knight Rises edges closer to theaters.

But after a few repeated listens of that bizarre audio file, the immediate questions come to mind:

  • Could it be Arkham's inmates cheering for Bane in the place where he was born and raised?
  • Could it be the mantra of the League of Shadows, the nefarious group from Batman Begins who many are speculating will return for TDKR?
  • Is this chanting related to the backstory of Ra's Al-Ghul?

Christopher Nolan directs Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Anne Hathaway, and a host of others for the final time in The Dark Knight Rises, which is scheduled to swoop into theaters on July 20, 2012.

[Via Latino Review]