With the Batman buzz going on due to the release of record breaking The Dark Knight, I decided to devote some time and give a spotlight to the second villain of TDK, Two-Face. For those who havent seen the movie yet, there are spoilers in the article, so dont read it!
Two-Face remains in the shadows as the media and fans focus on Batman's arch enemy, Joker. Of course it's understandable that one of the most iconic super villains will get all that attention, especially since last time he was played by Jack Nicholson himself!(my comparison on Jokers can be found here - http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/2123)
But what about the other bad guy? The one that joins in after about 3/4 of the movie? The one that was also played by a Hollywood heavyweight and Oscar winner?
Lets look at three (yes, THREE)movie incarnations of one of the main Batman villains
1. Harvey Dent ("Batman")
Briefly shown In Burton's 1989 Batman, Harvey Dent was one of the good guys. Just like Gordon, he wasn't corrupted and truly wanted to bring peace to Gotham by capturing Mob boss Carl Grissom.
A little more than a cameo, but memorable enough. Billy Dee Williams who played Star Wars' Lando Calrissian presented a strong and confident political figure. A role memorable enough that Answers.com cite it as "One of his most notable roles"
Worth noting that this is the only portrayal of Dent as African American, and that just like with The Dark Knight, Joker and Dent appear in the same movie.
Williams said that he originally took the role believing that it would land him in a sequel playing the supervillain Two-Face, but as we know that did not happen. Burton's Dent never turned bad and did not reappear in Batman Returns
2.Harvey Dent/Two-Face ("Batman Forever")
MTV said "Largely considered the film that began a slow, painful, camp-fueled death for the black-suited superhero (with "Batman and Robin" marking the final nail in that coffin), the "Forever" villains are often listed among the worst comic-book performances of all time.Asked bluntly whether he would've liked to play Two-Face again, Tommy Lee Jones offered a stiff, one-word response: "No.""
And I would agree with that statement. Schumacher turned Burton's Gothic Dark Comedy into Neon, Colorful Cheez flick, eventually leading to the series' reboot and bringing up the same mistakes and "fat" that ruined Batman in the 60's
Played by another Hollywood superstar, Oscar winning Tommy Lee Jones, Two Face is nothing short of disaster. Just like the entire Schumacher neon world, Two Face has a pink face and corny custom clothes that look like they could've been taken out from 60's Batman. We see him as an old time villain right from the beginning of the movie, and immediately we can sense that there's something way off with this portrayal. As good as Jones is, seems like Schumacher never read any Two-Face comic books before. Two-Face is portrayed as not so intelligent nutcase, who resembles 60's Joker much more with his behavior than a classic Two-Face. Its hard to believe that an intelligent person like Dent would not only turn "evil" because he got a vial of acid splashed into his face, but also loose many IQ points. He is basically a gullible idiot that gets played by Riddler
3. Harvey Dent/Two-Face ("The Dark Knight")
Aaron Eckhart might not be in the same league as Jones, but oh my, he gave a TERRIFIC performance. Aaron said he didnt re-watch older movies so he wouldn't be influenced by Jones or Williams' performance.
Going back to Burton's formula Nolan brought back the same Harvey Dent. Someone who is not corruptable and wants to catch the mobsters who are eventually involved with Joker (same as in 89's movie). But this Dent goes even further because not only we see his unbreakable political side, but also his human side. He really is a good person. You like him. Batman likes him. He loves Rachel and even sacrifices himself for the good of the city.
And then the tragedy happens and somewhat he witnesses his love's death while getting terribly burnt. Brainwashed by sadistic Joker, he takes on his own personal Vendetta to kill those who didn't save Rachel. Very, very complex character and an incredible twist of the personality. He basically turns from someone we care about on screen into this cold murderer, but we understand his pain and what he's been through.
For me, this Two-Face wins hands down, both character wise and visually. No cartoonish pink guy, just a horribly burnt guy. And I'm also amazed how believable the use of the coin is, the backstory for it is great
Worth noting is that this Two-Face does NOT have a split personality. He doesnt refer to himself as "We"