Gotham’s favorite lawyer/criminal mastermind made his live-action return in the Christopher Nolan world of The Dark Knight. The critically praised feature saw Aaron Eckhart play Harvey Dent in the sequel and the district attorney’s fall came at the hands of one of Joker’s traps. The mad man would eventually transform into Two-Face, though his reign as one of Batman’s villains didn’t last long as Dent/Two-Face was killed later on in the film. Two-Face is one of the original Gotham villains in the comics, first making his appearance in Detective Comics #66 in August 1942. He’s been in multiple animated features and shows and even had roles previously in Batman and Batman Forever. That drums up the question, was Two-Face treated properly in the Christopher Nolan sequel?
First, it should be commended how well Nolan crafted the first live-action adaptation of one of the more primary villains of the DC universe. Two-Face is in the same vein as a Joker, Riddler, and Penguin, though to be frank, The Dark Knight was the Joker show. Nolan developed Dent enough so his transformation made sense, but the execution felt rushed. Dent should’ve been introduced in Batman Begins. He didn’t exactly have to be Rachel’s love interest, but it would’ve helped if there was a friendship established between Bruce Wayne and Dent from the beginning. The introduction of Dent in The Dark Knight was sound, and all the pieces of the puzzle fit, but it should’ve just run through the entire Nolan trilogy. It’s in the vein of the developing rivalry between Green Goblin Jr. and Spider-Man; The friendship between Harry and Peter is established in the first film. Then, the crux of their issues begins when Harry believes that Spider-Man killed his father. The end result was a disappointing mess, but the development of their characters was perfect.
Understandably, Joker was originally set to be the boss in the final Batman film, but tragically, Heath Ledger passed away. Dent should’ve remained alive until the final feature. The idea of someone having a personal vendetta against Batman is great, and it’s even better given the fact that it’s a close friend. Dent has an incredibly rich backstory that can easily carry him as the primary villain of a Batman feature. In the original version, he grew up under an abusive father and developed bipolar and schizophrenia. Now, Eckhart’s version didn’t particularly need that version attached because he already has a compelling motive for hating Batman. The dark knight ruined his life. Or at least in his mind. Dent was the white knight of Gotham city until Batman shattered his hopes and dreams by opting to save him over Rachel. Bane in The Dark Knight Rises was okay, but nothing special whatsoever, and it would’ve been wise to mix up the story by having Two-Face in the third film. Now, movie magic could’ve been applied for the sequel.
Of course, Nolan and studio executives didn’t particularly know that the tragedy would strike in terms of Heath Ledger, and though it was wise to not have anyone replace the Prince of darkness, Two-Face could’ve survived for the final chapter. Yes, we did see him die in The Dark Knight, but the man wasn’t shot in the head and he had a relatively tame death compared to others in the comic book world. The move could’ve played off as Two-Face being revived or even faking his own death. Can you imagine a world where Two-Face gathers an army and takes over Gotham? There’s plenty of directions that the character could’ve went, but I respect Nolan for staying true to his world and keeping Two-Face dead. The planning should’ve been before The Dark Knight. Both Two-Face and Joker ruling Gotham city? That sounds great and the acting talents of both Ledger and Eckhart could’ve seen the best onscreen villain duo in the live-action realm. At the end of the day, the story of Two-Face was well done and the casting of the character itself was perfect. Araon Eckhart embodied mostly everything that the comics had about the character: a charming, good-looking, and charismatic performer. His final scene as he held Gordon’s son hostage just showcases the missed potential this character had. Two-Face wasn’t necessarily treated bad, but he’s better than the supporting role that he was given. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we see of the character in live-action form and he’s ends up in a future Matt Reeves Batman sequel, Two-Face would fit perfectly with the dark and gritty world of the latest venture into Gotham.