|First appearance|| Detective Comics #66 |
Story: "The Crimes of Two-Face"
|Created by|| Bob Kane |
|Origin|| Detective Comics #66 |
Secret Original Annual #1
Batman Annual #14
Batman: The Long Halloween #1-#13
Two-Face: Year One
|True Identity||Harvey Dent|
|Known alias(es)||Apollo (as Dent)|
|Abilities|| Extensive knowledge of law |
combatant (trained by Batman)
Two-Face (Harvey Dent) is a fictional character, an enemy of Batman created by Bob Kane. He first appeared in Detective Comics #66 (1942).
According to the character's sole creator, Bob Kane, inspiration for Two-Face came from a poster for the 1954 re-release of the 1941 remake of the 1932 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The poster depicted Jekyll and Hyde's faces melded into a single head.
Originally, Two-Face flipped his coin to decide what crime he would commit - if heads, he would commit a crime in broad daylight and give the spoils to charity. If tails, he would pull a heist under the cover of night and keep the money for himself. Dent's face was actually fixed shortly after his debut, with a series of "replacement" Two-Faces filling in for him from the mid-forties to the mid-fifties.
When the original Two-Face was brought back in 1954, he vanished from the Batman mythos almost completely due to the rising of the Comics Code. Aside from a brief appearance in Worlds Finest Comics #173, the character was re-introduced in the seventies.
Fictional character biographyEdit
During the character's first appearance in 1942, he was introduced as Harvey Kent (later changed to Dent to avoid confusion with the alter-ego of Superman), a District Attorney nicknamed "Apollo" by the Gotham press for his good looks. At the prosecution of mob leader "Boss" Moroni, Kent produced the deciding piece of evidence - Moroni's lucky two-headed silver dollar, which had been found at the scene of "Booker" Benson's murder. Enraged, Moroni flung a vial of acid towards Kent. Batman (who had been called in as a witness) managed to partially deflect Moroni's hand, causing only the left side of Harvey's face to be hit by the acid.
Although he manages to recover, the left side of Harvey's face is left a grotesque monstrosity. Believing that everyone around him now publicly shuns him (including his wife, Gilda), Harvey takes Moroni's silver dollar as his own, carves several scars into one side, and flips it to decide his future. The coin lands scarred-side up, thus causing him to take the path of a criminal. Though he was eventually returned to normal by a plastic surgeon, Harvey's face was once more halfway scarred in Batman #81, when a bomb went off in his face. Taking this to mean that he is destined to forever be Two-Face, he resumed his alter-ego.
Later stories such as "Batman: Year One" (Batman #404-#407) and the miniseries The Long Halloween portrayed Dent as a close friend of Bruce Wayne, an a staunch supporter of Batman, thus deepening his transformation. The story "Original Sins" (Secret Original Annual #1) added the element of Dent having mental problems even before his transformation, as explained by his wife (now renamed Grace). Later still, the story "Eye of the Beholder" (Batman Annual #14) re-imagined his trademark coin not as a mobster's lucky charm, but as a cruel game that his abusive father used to play with him. If the coin landed heads, his father would beat him, but since it had two heads, he would never be able to win. When Dent finally transforms into Two-Face, he confronts his father over this.
The original Earth-2 Two-Face's crimes were ones of a rather simplistic nature = he would use his coin to decide whether to stage robberies during the day or the night, and who the spoils would go to. As the character evolved throughout the years, his crimes began to harbor a more psychological tone.
During the climax of "Punishment" (Batman: The Long Halloween #13), Two-Face is the one who kills Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, the top mob boss in Gotham. This leads to a power vacuum in the follow-up miniseries Dark Victory between the remaining Gotham mobsters and the costumed "freaks" that would later become Batman's rogues gallery. During Dark Victory, Two-Face kills his replacement as District Attorney, Janice Porter, but also saves James Gordon's life from the serial killer Hangman.
As a full-on criminal, Two-Face is infamous for being one of Gotham's most prominent crime bosses. He is responsible for the death of the father of Jason Todd, who had been one of his henchmen, and as a result was almost killed by Todd (as Robin) one time. This was not the first time that Two-Face has had such a relationship with a Robin - his murder of an innocent judge in Robin: Year One lead to the young Dick Grayson taking his role as Robin much more seriously.
A four-part story arc (consisting of Robin #11, Batman #513, Shadow of the Bat #33, and Detective Comics #680) during the "Prodigal" storyline had Dent hack into Gotham's computer database and completely scramble its binary code, resulting in malfunctioning traffic lights, death-row criminals being released, and innocent people being jailed. During this time, it is not Bruce Wayne who is underneath Batman's cowl, but instead Dick Grayson. With the help of Robin, the two are able to defeat Two-Face, and exorcise the guilt that Dick had acquired from the aforementioned underestimation of Two-Face.
During the year-long "No Man's Land" crossover, he is featured as one of the most prominent players in the now-devastated Gotham, and slowly begins to bring his own twisted sense of order to the earthquake-ravaged city. During this time, however, he finds himself having feelings toward police officer Renee Montoya - feelings that lead to a temporary truce between himself, Batman, and the police. His feelings for Montoya are further explored in the "Half a Life" story arc (Gotham Central #6-#10), where he outs her as a lesbian and frames her for murder, thinking that with no one else to turn to, she will have no choice but to love him.
Much later, during the "Hush" story arc, he is one of the many members of Batman's rogues gallery to be manipulated by Hush and the Riddler in their war against Batman. Unexpectedly, however, the plastic surgery that he is given in return temporarily returns his Harvey Dent persona. As a result, he alerts James Gordon to stop Batman from killing the Joker, and shoots Hush twice during the climax of the story, saving Batman. Even later, during the "Face the Face" story arc (itself part of the "One Year Later" storyline), the reformed Harvey Dent is revealed to have taken Batman's place as the vigilante protector of Gotham, at the Dark Knight's own request. Once Batman returns, however, Harvey finds himself the primary suspect of a series of murders all linked to Two-Face. Though he is eventually proven innocent, the damage is done - using a scalpel and nitric acid, he transforms into Two-Face once more, this time willingly.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Though an ordinary human with no inherent superpowers, Dent possesses a deep knowledge of law, owing to his days as a District Attorney. As a criminal, he puts this knowledge to use and quickly rises to the top of Gotham's underworld.
The character has always been portrayed as, at the very least, an average hand-to-hand combatant. During the "One Year Later" storyline, however, he was trained by Batman himself in hand-to-hand combat, skills that he retains to this day. He is also an expert marksman, being able to shoot Hush twice without hitting Batman when the former was grappling with the latter.
Unlike many of his fellow rogues, Two-Face has always been on the mundane side for a member of Batman's rogues gallery. His choice of weaponry reflects this, as he rarely uses anything besides guns. Keeping in with his theme of duality, he often utilizes a pair of dual pistols (in The Long Halloween, he instead uses a single .22 caliber pistol).
Aside from guns, Two-Face's only other iconic accessory is his coin. Though what kind of coin it is (and is origins) has varied over the years, the overall details remain consistent: both sides bear an identical head, with one side covered in several deep scars.
Two-Face is one of the most psychologically complex characters of the Batman universe. While he was originally portrayed as a rather two-dimensional character, he gradually became a man with a true split personality. His dependence on his coin became much more profound, as he has done acts of good multiple times when the un-scarred side came up. In the story "This One'll Kill You, Batman!" (Batman #260), for example, he prevents an inmate from Arkham Asylum from beating Batman to death when his coin lands clean-side up.
In Grant Morrison's graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, the doctors at Arkham Asylum attempt to "cure" Dent's condition by replacing his coin with a six-sided die, then with a pack of tarot cards. By doing this, the intent is to offer him with more possibilities, but with so many potential options, Two-Face is rendered incapable of making simple choices such as going to the bathroom. At the end of the story, he is given his coin back by Batman, and told to flip it to decide the Dark Knight's fate. He complies, and orders the rogues to let Batman go, but the final page of the story reveals that the coin had indeed landed scarred-side up. According to Morrison, this was because the story took place on April Fool's Day.
Most post-crisis portrayals of Two-Face have depicted him as having mental problems even as Harvey Dent, possibly stemming from the abuse he endured from his father as a child. As James Gordon stated at the end of "Eye of the Beholder" (Batman Annual #14), "The shrinks diagnosed him as a hebephrenic schizophrenic... didn't hold out much hope." Gordon went on to state that Dent repressed his frustrations by studying law, but as he did so, his feelings of anger and violence compressed themselves into a separate personality. As District Attorney, they resurfaced when Dent experienced the hardships of having to deal with a city as corrupt as Gotham.
In contrast to most of his fellow rogues (save for Joker), romance has played a major role in Two-Face's life. His Earth-2 self became Two-Face because he thought that his wife Gilda had rejected him, and during Dark Victory, he kills District Attorney Janice Porter, stating that "Harvey Dent is a married man." His attractions toward Renee Montoya also provided the plot for the "Half a Life" story arc in Gotham Central.
As he was deemed "too gruesome" for the light, comedic bent of the sixties Batman TV show, the character of Harvey Dent made his first non-comic appearance in Tim Burton's Batman. Here, he is only featured briefly, as winning the election for District Attorney. African-American actor Billy Dee Williams portrayed Dent, despite the character being traditionally Caucasian; this was deliberate, as director Tim Burton considered the idea of a black Two-Face interesting, and intended to cast Williams as Two-Face in a future Batman film. However, by the time a film featuring To-Face was made, Burton had left the series and Williams was recast.
Two-Face made his debut in the 1995 film Batman Forever, the third installment in the Burton/Shumacher Batman film series, played by actor Tommy Lee Jones. Here, he is already shown as Two-Face at the start of the film, with his origin (being splashed by acid) only being told in a passing mention. As the film opens, Two-Face is shown robbing a bank, but is quickly defeated by Batman (though he manages to escape). Later on, he storms a circus, wanting revenge on Batman, and threatens to detonate a bomb if Batman does not show up and reveal his secret identity. In the process, he kills John and Mary Grayson, acrobats and the parents of Dick Grayson. Dick, however, survives, and helps Batman disarm the bomb. After finding out about his parents' death, he insists on becoming Batman's sidekick Robin to get revenge on Two-Face.
Dent later allies himself with Riddler when the latter promises him Batman's secret identity, and together, the two villains storm the Batcave, destroying most of it, and kidnap Batman's love interest, Chase Meridian. Batman and Robin eventually confront the two separately on Riddler's island hideout, and though Robin manages to best Two-Face in battle, he cannot bring himself to kill him. As a result, he is taken hostage by Two-Face. Later, after Batman manages to free both Chase and Robin, Two-Face falls to his apparent death when Batman flings a handful of coins into the air, prompting him to scramble around on the floor for his real coin (as he had been told by Batman to flip his coin to decide whether or not to shoot him and Robin).
The character's portrayal in the film was noticeably different from that of the comics. Instead of a coolly psychotic criminal, Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Two-Face was flashy, loud and obsessed with duality to the point where he referred to himself in the plural (i.e. For your dining pleasure, we'll be serving the very same acid that made us the men we are today!). As a result, the character was often panned by critics for being a "poor man's Joker", though Jones was nominated for the MTV Best Villain Award.
The Dark KnightEdit
The character was portrayed by actor Aaron Eckhart in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins (2005). Here, Harvey Dent is, much like his comics counterpart, the District Attorney of Gotham City, and forms an alliance with James Gordon and Batman (the latter only in secret) to take down the mob. Throughout the film, Harvey is looked up to by the citizens of Gotham, even being dubbed their "White Knight". Though he is able to deal several blows to the mob, the arrival of the Joker complicates matters, as he plans to ultimately destroy Dent's image in an effort to instill total anarchy upon Gotham.
When the Joker begins to kill various high-society members in Gotham, stating that he will only stop if Batman reveals his secret identity, Dent decides to (falsely) reveal himself as Batman, in an effort to stop the murders. En route to being transported by the police (supposedly to be charged with vigilantism), the Joker attacks Dent, but is subsequently captured - the entire "revelation" is revealed to be a gambit to draw him out into the open. The Joker, however, turns the entire scheme on its head when he reveals that the police escorts for both Dent and his fiancee, Rachel Dawes, are working for Maroni. What ultimately results is both Dent and Dawes being trapped in separate warehouses on the opposite sides of the city, each rigged to explode at a certain time.
In the end, thanks to the Joker swapping who was at each location, Batman winds up saving Dent instead (narrowly missing the explosion), and Dawes perishes in the explosion. Dent is then revealed to have had the entire left side of his face burnt off in the explosion, and is eventually convinced by the Joker that there are no choices in life, as well as that the police and Batman are just as much to blame as he is for Rachel's death. Consumed with vengeance, Dent, now declaring himself "Two-Face", attacks both the mobsters and the corrupt cops responsible for Rachel's death, leaving Gordon and his family for last. Batman soon arrives on the scene, and tackles Dent just as he is about to shoot Gordon's son, causing him to fall off of the building to his (presumed) death. In the aftermath, Batman, in order to preserve Dent's image as the "White Knight" and make sure that his death is not in vain, tells Gordon to pin Dent's murders on him instead.
In the film, Two-Face's coin (a two-headed 1922 Peace Dollar) is not a lucky charm belonging to Maroni, but instead a personal possession. Throughout the film, he makes decisions with it even before becoming Two-Face, though they are always tipped in his favor due to his favorable choice always being heads. In the warehouse explosion, one side of the coin is burnt and scarred, thus forming the "bad" head. In addition, his election slogan "I believe in Harvey Dent" was used as the basis of the film's viral marketing campaign after Heath Ledger's death (previously, the campaign had been focused on the Joker, and his "Why so serious?" line).
DC Animated UniverseEdit
Batman: The Animated SeriesEdit
As Two-Face was absent during the Filmation and Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1970s and 80s, his first depiction in animation was in the widely-acclaimed 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Here, two episodes ("On Leather Wings" and "Pretty Poison") depict him as Harvey Dent prior to his transformation, and firmly establish him as both a champion of law and order and a close friend of Bruce Wayne. His transformation was finally seen in the two-part episode "Two-Face", where he manages to win the election for District Attorney despite showing several outbursts of violent temper. Crime boss Rupert Thorne, however, attempts to blackmail Dent with his psychology reports immediately after the election. The meeting between Throne, his gang, and Dent (which takes place as a refinery) is interrupted by Batman, and a fight ensues.
During the fight, Harvey is caught in an explosion, horrifically scarring the left side of his face. Upon his discovery of this, he experiences a mental breakdown and gives in to "Big Bad Harv", an alternate personality that he had harbored since childhood (and had made itself known several times during the course of the episode). Dent becomes a crime boss known as "Two-Face", and in the process pushes away everything in his former life, including his wife, Grace. As Two-Face, Dent robs and attacks several establishments that Thorne uses as a front for his criminal activity, culminating in attempting to kill Thorne himself. Though he is stopped by Batman before he can do so, and taken away by the police, Batman expresses hope that one day, Harvey will return to his old self.
Two-Face appears several more times throughout the course of the series, often playing a supporting role as opposed to being the main antagonist. He was amongst the villains who attended Hugo Strange's auction for Batman's secret identity, as well as a frequent inmate at Arkham Asylum. In the episode "Second Chance", his split personality is touched on again, when he "kidnaps" himself in order to avoid a rehabilitation treatment. During the show's run, Dent/Two-Face was voiced by Richard Moll.
The New Batman AdventuresEdit
When Batman: The Animated Series was rebooted into The New Batman Adventures, Two-Face (still voiced by Moll) received what was probably the least extreme design revamp. His appearance and costume were virtually identical to that of his B:TAS design, only simplified and a bit more angular.
Two-Face was indirectly responsible for the creation of Robin II, AKA Tim Drake, as the teenage boy first met Batman when Two-Face kidnapped him in "Sins of the Father". When Tim receives news that Two-Face had killed his father, who used to be one of his henchmen, he becomes Robin (against Batman and Batgirl's wishes) to wreak his vengeance on the villain. Though he is successful in stopping Dent's plot to hold the city ransom, Tim abstains from killing him, echoing the decision of Dick Grayson in Batman Forever.