Two-Face

The underrated villain of The Dark Knight
On
July 23, 2008


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"
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Comments
1 year ago
Aaron Eckhart's Two-Face.
    8 years, 10 months ago
    Short article but well written. Thumbs up!
      12 years, 9 months ago
      schumackers i prefer a little more. i like two-face's pad. Half black half white. You get to see much more of him than in the Dark Knight.
        13 years ago
        the story about two-face in the dark knight was almost completely wrong! Aaron did a good job in acting the part, but he wasn't suppose to be burnned by fire, he was suppose to get toxic acid thrown on him. the horrible pain eventually makes him confused between good and evil. in time, he uses a silver coin that is perfect on one side and scarred on the other to determine his actions. the only problem when tommy played two-face is, as you said, he acted more like the joker. i don't really like either movies, but if i had to choose... i would pic batman forever.
          13 years ago
          all the things i listed (from toxic acid to the coin) is how two-face is suppose to be
            13 years, 5 months ago
            I love how they did the TDK version then the Schumacher version.
              13 years, 5 months ago
              two face has always been my favorite batman villian for obvius reasons and the way he was shown in TDK was amazing, i was so happy to see him done right for once.
                13 years, 5 months ago
                chokeslam: I agree the Killing Joke's origins are closer to Burton's, but my point was that Dark Knight's Joker was like Killing Joke's joker came alive. The personality and character is identical, down to his fascination about falling down in tough situations
                  13 years, 5 months ago
                  Wow Dark Knight's Two-Face looks way better in comparison...
                    13 years, 5 months ago
                    The best maybe, but not definite. DC had never confirmed a definte origin for the Joker. At any rate I don't remeber Joker having had an abusive father in "The Killing Joke." As best I remeber he had a pretty normal life up until his wife was killed and he got involved with crime. I thought the theme was that Joker went insane because he had "one bad day" just as he trying to do to Gordon.

                    At any rate "The Killing Joke" origin is much more similar to the origin presented in Tim Burton's "Batman" than it is to "The Dark Knight." Nolan seems to a stuck with DC's no definte origin approach as Joker simply appeared as is and told multiple stories of how he got his scars.

                    Whatever the case, I guess with no definite origin we a all free to take whichever origin we like best and accept it as the truth.
                      13 years, 5 months ago
                      Meh, Forever's Two-Face was a five-year-old kid with a grape juice stain on his face.
                        13 years, 5 months ago
                        Well I thought the origins explained in The Killing Joke were the best and definite. It made sense, plus it was one of the two comic books Nolan gave Ledger to read in preparation for his role
                          13 years, 5 months ago
                          Achilles Wrote: "I think Nolan proved that he can give all those comic book characters a very realistic makeover. For the very first time, those supervillains are presented as people who could have live in a real world. Joker is a sadistic terrorist who had abusive father in his childhood. Two Face is a burnt victim with psychological breakdown"

                          I agree with you for the most part but I don't know how much stock we can put into Joker's claim to have had an abusive father. In the movie he gave at least two differnt explaination for how he got his scars. These multiple origin stories were actually a nod to the comic series in which Joker has never been given a definitive origin. In "Detective Comics" Joker simply appeared on the scene as the clown-faced homicidal maniac that we know today. Over the years various storylines attempted to give him an origin, however many of these were contradictory to others and none was ever adopted as the definitive origin of the The Joker. In some of these his name was Jack in his pre-joker life but no last name was ever given. It was likely this that inspired Tim Burton to call him Jack Napier in the 1989 Batman film. In a later issue of Batman DC kind of poked fun at themselves by have Joker reply when asked about his origins "Oh, on differnt days I remember it differnt ways."
                            13 years, 5 months ago
                            If the bat wants to play, we'll play!
                              13 years, 5 months ago
                              Well... I always believed comic books and their casts were EXTREME disorders making the story fun... trying to fit them in a logical and probable "realistic" way may take the fun out of the comic itself... that's only me though.

                              Good article anyway, thumbs up.
                                13 years, 5 months ago
                                One of Batman's worst enemies but he ain't a fan favorite like The Joker, Mister Freeze, The Penguin, and The Scarecrow. He is more like a Batman ally turned enemy the only reason his cool because Billy Dee Williams is about to portray him in Tim Burton's Batman version. Only Tommy Lee Jones ended up portaying him instead.
                                  13 years, 5 months ago
                                  If anyone wants to know Joel's reason (or excuse) for making the Tommy Lee Jones Two-Face scars pink, read this: www.nuvein.com/.../neill/neill.html
                                    13 years, 5 months ago
                                    http://www.nuvein.com/archived_cinnews_site/neill/neill.html
                                      13 years, 5 months ago
                                      The thing I realy like about Nolan is that he is the only writer who has been able to sucessfully pull off the multi-villan superhero flick. Why? Because he is actully willing to use villans that logically fit into the story he is telling rather than picking two or three popular villans and forcing them into the storyline. This allows him to give the villans a logical reason for working together, something much more creative than the old "Lets team up and get Batman." I liked Burton's "Batman Returns" and thought that both DeVito and Phifer were brilliant in their roles, however, the one disapointing aspect was that Penguin and Catwoman's only motivation for teaming up was the old "Lets pool our resources and take down Batman." "Batman Forever" was a complete disaster. As much as I like Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carey each hit a carear low in this film. Contrary to popular belief The Riddler has never appeared in a Batman film. In actuallity "Batman Forever" featured Batman vs Ace Ventura in a Riddler costume (this was, of couse, the pre-"Man On the Moon" Carey so that's the only character he knew how to play at the time, he did get much better). As for Two-Face in this film, well I think you covered that well enough so I will only say that both Carey and Jones' potrayals of Batman villans had more of The Joker in them than the actual villan they were suposed to be playing. "Batman and Robin" was a jumbled mess because they tried to deal with way to many characters in one two hour film. And who the F*@K is Barbra WILSON anyway?!!!
                                        13 years, 5 months ago
                                        chokeslamPosted: Contrary to popular belief The Riddler has never appeared in a Batman film. In actuallity "Batman Forever" featured Batman vs Ace Ventura in a Riddler costume (this was, of couse, the pre-"Man On the Moon" Carey so that's the only character he knew how to play at the time, he did get much better).

                                        Exactly. Batman Forever is almost Batman like in title only when it's really "Batman: starring Jim Carrey from The Mask". That's probably my only reason for watching it though cause Jim still gives me a laugh in that film (even in a completely unfaithful role as Riddler).
                                          13 years, 5 months ago
                                          I think Nolan proved that he can give all those comic book characters a very realistic makeover. For the very first time, those supervillains are presented as people who could have live in a real world. Joker is a sadistic terrorist who had abusive father in his childhood. Two Face is a burnt victim with psychological breakdown
                                            13 years, 5 months ago
                                            I don't understand why people ask former cast members of the old series to reprise roles in the reboots. That's ridiculous, most of them did a horrible job in the first place. Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor, but that role, especially as a Batman fan, made me cringe. Eckhart was fantastic.

                                            I enjoyed the article though :]
                                              13 years, 6 months ago
                                              You're way better at writing Batman articles than me!
                                                13 years, 6 months ago
                                                You know growing up with the original Batman film series I didn't think it was that bad at first, and when Batman Begins came around I wasn't quite sure what to think yet about the reboot cause I was still nostalgic about the first ones and the only Nolan villains at that point were Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul. But now there's The Dark Knight (the first superhero movie I can think of to redo villains from previous films) and I can finally see that the new Joker and Two-Face are indeed better than the old ones, and more faithful to the comics too. I still like to look back on Batman Forever once in a while, but Joel got it wrong. Nolan got it right.
                                                  13 years, 6 months ago
                                                  I just found a funny comment online calling Forever's Two face a "bubble gum face"!
                                                    13 years, 6 months ago
                                                    Originally Harvey Dent was black. He was changed to a white dude to give better contrast with the scarring and to illustrate more the light/dark side. At least thats what it looks like. The reality might be a little more politicaly incorrect, if you catch my meaning.
                                                      13 years, 6 months ago
                                                      Thanks everybody!
                                                        13 years, 6 months ago
                                                        Once again a great article. With a good mix of pics to text. I'd have left out the one of the new Two-Face though, just in case there is someone out there who Hasn't seen the new movie.

                                                        Something of intrest is that Williams arranged for a play or pay contract for his roll as Harvy Dent / Two-Face. So even though he never appeared in the two other films he still got paid for the role.
                                                          13 years, 6 months ago
                                                          Wasn't Harvey Dent/Two-face from Batman: The Animated series African-American? I know a very white Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court) did his voice, but I could have sworn he was supposed to be Black. Oh, well. Aaron Eckhardt is definitely the king, but I was hoping for some crazy shouts from his "other half", but it was a great performance.
                                                            13 years, 6 months ago
                                                            A very good article indeed. But for some reason, I still regard batman forever as my number 1 batman movie of the 90's era. I actually did like the neon colors ALOT. I think IMO, those bought out the comic feel to it into the movie. Now I see how you compared the new two-face to the old one and I can agree. However, they still do have that split personality in them.
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