The Batman Needs Harvey Dent & Two-Face More Than it Needs Joker
The year 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic interrupted production on The Batman movie (like so [...]
The year 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic interrupted production on The Batman movie (like so many others). But while director Matt Reeves' Batman reboot has been on pause, the entire idea of law and order has been put under widespread scrutiny, due to the police brutality protests that have erupted across the world. While that social unrest has been unfolding in the streets, rumors of what villains will appear in The Batman and its sequels have been circulating the Internet. Joker and Bane are names that we've heard, but here's the thing: given what's going on in the world, Harvey Dent/Two-Face is the villain The Batman movies need to explore.
The Batman: Who Is Harvey Dent?
Harvey Dent and his Two-Face counterpart have remained one of the most prominent and moving stories in Batman lore with good reason. The character works on so many different levels, from the obvious good vs. evil psychological metaphor to the more complex tale about the death of noble idealism in a savage post-9/11 world, as Chris Nolan showed us in The Dark Knight. In the era of the 2020s, Harvey Dent/Two-Face has now suddenly become the perfect metaphor for the current volatile and violent social clash over what law and order should be in a free(?) society.
The core thing to understand about Harvey Dent's character is that the horrific accident and disfigurement that he suffers doesn't create the Two-Face persona: it simply reveals it. That element of the character was captured perfectly in Batman: The Animated Series' two-part "Two-Face" origin story (go watch that), and it's one that Matt Reeves can take to new heights in The Batman films. It could start slow: introduce Harvey Dent as Gotham's "White Knight" D.A., and slowly reveal that Dent (and the business he does as a lawmaker) isn't nearly as clean as it initially appears. By the time he has his Two-Face disfigurement, it would simply be Harvey's "true face" coming to light.
Two-Faces of Law & Order
The metaphor at work would be timely: Gotham's system of supposedly righteous law and order would reveal itself to be more tainted and hypocritical than people thought. The Batman - a figure circumventing or defying the law to bring about change and true justice - becomes a new kind of iconic hero. The Gotham mobsters and/or Rogues like The Joker and Penguin would become antagonistic or capitalistic elements taking advantage of social unrest; Jim Gordon is the good element of policing, struggling against complacency - you see how this goes. But, at the center of it all would be Batman and Two-Face, and all the social discourse that could be explored through that story.
Admittedly, that story is one that Nolan definitely touched on in The Dark Knight. However, when that film came out pretty much the only point of criticism that most people agreed on was that the Two-Face story felt extraneous and rushed. The final act of Dark Knight (where Two-Face holds Jim Gordon's family hostage) is one a lot of people felt could've been cut, as the Batman/Joker 'law vs. anarchy' thematic arc seemed like the main focus. Matt Reeves now has both the social context and longer timeline to give Two-Face's story proper pace and gravitas.
Is Two-Face Already in The Batman?
The best part is: this story may already be in the works. There's been compelling evidence all along that Reeves is basing The Batman (at least in part) on the famous "Long Halloween" storyline. Both the film and comic story are set in Bruce Wayne's 2nd year of being Batman, and both feature many of the same characters (Carmine Falcone, Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Gordon...). There's one notable exception: Peter Sarsgaard's role as D.A. Gil Colson. In Batman: TAS, a Gil Mason becomes a rising star after Two-Face frames Jim Gordon and uses Mason as his patsy in Gotham's legal system. Colson even starts dating Barbara Gordon, who discovers his true nature, inspiring her to become Batgirl. Those are a lot of stories that seem to be circling Reeves film. Fans either think that Sarsgaard is actually playing the new Harvey Dent, or his Gil Colson character will be used to introduce whomever Reeves has cast as Two-Face, as one of The Batman's big reveals.
If that's not the plan, then hopefully Reeves uses some of this production downtime to start working it in. The Batman series has an important story to tell.