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From Roadhog to Bane: Five More of Our Favorite Gas Masks in Media

Earlier this year, we shared five of our favorite gas mask-clad characters, from Terminator 2’s eponymous T-800 to the knife-wielding baddies in The King’s Man. (No, we don’t mean that word in the Instagram sense.)

Yet gas masks in media are a well that never seems to run dry, so we’re back again with five more standout masked characters. Note that the inclusion of these mask-wearers in no way indicates our approval of their ethics–as all honorees (with the exception of the honorable mention) are some version of dastardly.

Still, villainous characters often lend themselves to the best costuming choices, so we’re going to give sartorial credit where credit is due, regardless of D&D alignment.

Let’s jump in.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Roadhog from Overwatch and Overwatch 2

  • 02

    Walter White from Breaking Bad

  • 03

    Darth Vader from Star Wars

  • 04

    Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road

  • 05

    Bane from The Dark Knight Rises

  • 06

    Honorable mention: The Cast of Tenet

  • 07

    Final Thoughts

  • 08

    Frequently Asked Questions

Roadhog from Overwatch and Overwatch 2

As a high-HP, low-mobility tank hero, Roadhog huffs and puffs his way across the maps of Overwatch 2, damage-heavy hook in tow. All the while, he dons a full-face respirator, kitted out with two filters.

Though the mask is not wholly unlike our CM-7M, it has a decidedly ad hoc vibe, with visible seams of metallic thread stitching it together.

You see, Roadhog–much like another character on this list–resides in a postapocalyptic Australian Outback, irradiated by the explosion of the Omnium, a factory for the production of omnics (robots). 

It is in a manner befitting his dystopian lifestyle, then, that Roadhog (real name Mako Rutledge) dresses for both survival and style–yet there is certainly room for improvement with regard to the former. Just look at his tatted up–yet remarkably exposed–belly. (Body armor, anyone?)

Regardless, we wholeheartedly approve of his facial garb–though given this author’s history as a healer main, we cannot as readily give our blessing to his weaponry. This latest rework is killing us!

Roadhog in Overwatch 2

The man-pony will never go out of style. (Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment)

Walter White from Breaking Bad

Many consider Breaking Bad–a show depicting the Faustian journey of chemistry-teacher-cum-meth-kingpin Walter White–to be among the best TV series ever made. And as purveyors of gas masks, we can’t help but agree, as PPE features heavily in the series.

One of our favorite gas mask moments occurs in the pilot, when a still-hairy Walt dons a respirator after dispatching Krazy-8 and Emilio with phosphine gas. It’s an incredibly cinematic moment–a perfect introduction to the deranged charm of Breaking Bad.

With that said, it’s important to remember that the show approaches chemistry with a dash of Hollywood magic. Take this very scene, for example: Because phosphine gas is an organic gas with an extremely low boiling point, there is really no gas mask that could have protected him in that situation.

That means that, yes, if Breaking Bad operated according to the physical laws of the real world, poor Walt would have died alongside his very first opponents–long before he ever had a chance to become the formidable Heisenberg.

Darth Vader from Star Wars

Darth Vadar from Star Wars

Expecting David Prowse under the mask? Neither were we. (Image courtesy of Starwars.com)

Of all the respirators committed to celluloid, Darth Vader’s black helmeted mask is undoubtedly the most iconic. In fact, we’re surprised that the Sith lord wasn’t included in our first list.

Regardless, we’re remedying that oversight now by acknowledging the fallen-from-grace Jedi and his seriously intimidating PPE.

Then again, Vader’s mask isn’t so much “protective” as it is a form of life support following his lightsaber-induced tumble through lava in the prequels. (Who could forget that line, “It’s over, Anakin–I have the high ground”? Classic.)

What’s perhaps most interesting about Vader’s respirator is the way he instantly becomes humanized–poignantly feeble–upon removing it during his death scene. In that moment, we realize just how hard the mask had been working to keep him alive.


Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road

Sensing a theme in this list?

That’s right, from the villainous Vader to antihero Walter White, gas masks in media are often reserved for the on-screen narcissists–and Immortan Joe is no exception.

A ruthless warlord and dictator, Immortan Joe rules over the Citadel–a post-apocalyptic wasteland strongly implied to be Australia–maintaining his power through the monopolization of resources. Despicable behavior, to be sure… but he’s got some pretty cool drip.

Mad Max: Fury Road - Immortan Joe

A drippy patriarch. (Image courtesy of Warner Brothers)

As with his Down Under counterpart Roadhog, Joe’s respirator functions as a breathing apparatus, filtering out toxic fumes in the barren, radioactive landscape. It’s an interesting, multi-dimensional prop choice. With metallic riveting and a set of rather yucky-looking chompers, the respirator telegraphs both the fearsomeness and vulnerability of the tyrant. (Vader, it should be noted, pretty much serves as the blueprint for that trope.)

Though our gas masks are designed purely for survival, there’s no denying the intimidation factor–though we certainly don’t recommend wearing one in order to cultivate a cult leader persona.

Bane from The Dark Knight Rises

In The Dark Knight (2012) the main villain Bane.

“What a lovely, lovely voice…” (Image courtesy of Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment)

As we will touch on in the following section, director Christopher Nolan has more than once put an inventive spin on gas masks in his mind-bending oeuvre.

In The Dark Knight Rises, for example, Nolan reimagines the gas mask as a dispenser of painkillers–rather than a filtering device–for chronically ill terrorist Bane. To this end, a prisoner in the Pit describes the prototype to Bruce Wayne:

"Many years ago, it was a time of plague. Some of the other prisoners attacked Bane. And the doctor's fumbling attempts to repair the damage left him in perpetual agony. The mask holds the pain at bay."

It’s a fascinating cinematic choice, one that forces the always adroit Tom Hardy to act purely with his eyes–and how.

Of course, as safety equipment manufacturers, we cannot condone the use of our products to deliver a steady supply of pharmaceutical painkillers to wearers (if such a thing is even possible). Yet we thoroughly enjoy the fantasy of Hardy’s opioid-dependent supervillain.

Honorable mention: The Cast of Tenet

In previous reporting, we have highlighted the use of MIRA Safety products in the 2020 Christopher Nolan flick Tenet. Yet the feature is just so cool, we can’t help but bring it up again.

Unlike our previous listicle, however, we will make little attempt to explain the plot of Tenet. Suffice it to say it’s exactly the kind of surreal mumblecore fare that the Inception/Memento director is known for. And it culminates in an elaborate battle scene in which the Tenet organization attempts a “temporal pincer movement”–essentially, half the team goes forward in time, and the other half travels backwards in time. (We told you it was complicated.)

Man Wearing MIRA Safety's CM-6M from the movie TENET 2020

The CM-6M on the big screen. (Image courtesy of Warner Brothers)

Though there are many nuances to the forces that govern the logic of Tenet’s time travel, the most important–for our purposes–is that “inverting” backwards through time requires agents to breathe through a respirator: namely, the CM-6M. Though there are many gas masks worn throughout the film, we reckon (with bias, admittedly) that ours are the most eye-catching.

That’s because the CM-6M features a large visor with an expansive panoramic view, rugged bromobutyl rubber construction, and an anti-fogging inner mask. After all, we wouldn’t want to obscure the soulful beauty of R-Patz’s big blue eyes, would we? (Plot twist.*)

* Warning: This link contains spoilers–and some very enviable PPE.

Final Thoughts

Mad Max: Fury Road, Immortan Joe

Don’t look at me like that… (Image courtesy of Warner Brothers)

While we can’t be sure what exactly it is that has the entertainment industry so enthralled with gas masks, we–as PPE wonks ourselves–can’t help but speculate as to the source of their allure.

First, gas masks project power. Due to their association with the military, respirators have a similar visual impact as a gun or bulletproof vest. They show that the wearer is prepared to take on the myriad threats of the world, declaring, “Witness me!” for all to see.

On the other hand, gas masks are a life-saving mediator between CBRN hazards and our delicate, fleshy bodies. This characteristic makes the interaction between villains and respirators particularly interesting, because, within that dynamic, the latter serves as a constant reminder of the former’s mortality.

Lastly, gas masks are emphatically cool. What–were you expecting something deeper? Well, dear reader, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And in the case of gas masks, it’s undeniable that form meets function in the most striking of ways. (Just wait till you get a gander at our upcoming C21 mask!)

But these are all just theories. In the end, the mystery of gas masks may be as impenetrable as the faces they conceal. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Roadhog from Overwatch and Overwatch 2?
Why does Roadhog from Overwatch wear a gas mask?
What is the purpose of Bane’s mask in The Dark Knight Rises?
What does Bane’s mask look (and sound) like?
Is a real-world Bane mask possible?
Where can I get a Bane mask?
What’s a good gas mask costume for Halloween?
Where can I get a good gas mask for my costume?