From Gotham’s White Knight to Two-Face
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”
This was something uttered by the new Gotham district attorney not long after he had begun to get involved with the true low life and scum of the city. Predicting his very own future something that he probably wouldn’t have even believed himself. Happy with his life and how everything just seemed to be falling into place for his professional and personal life. Although his turn to become the villain would not be well known and his death was used to highlight the good side and not the monster that he had become. Rachel’s death pushed him to a very dark place very quickly, going from the incredible hero making such a difference to then going about avenging her death with the traitors within the police force to the mob and more importantly to The Joker.
I have watched The Dark Knight many times now and on a recent cinema trip to eventually witness it in all the IMAX glory it got me thinking about Harvey Dent. Thinking about how we don’t really talk about him that much when discussing The Dark Knight. I mean we all know why because Heath Ledger’s Joker is utterly breathtaking and scene stealing. But that is not meant to take away anything from Aaron Eckhart and the marvellous performance he puts in as Harvey Dent and then later Two-Face. I would even go as far saying it is one of the most impressive turns from good to evil as a character within Nolan’s trilogy. While some characters are walking a fine line between the good side of them and the bad side of them. Dent completely goes from one extreme to the other in dramatic fashion.
Batman highlights to Jim Gordon that Dent was the very best of them and that was the reason why The Joker wanted to bring him down. The toughest target and to prove the point that everyone could be corrupted and changed if you managed to push them far enough. Obviously Dent had no idea that Bruce Wayne was Batman, so the link with Rachel was rather awkward for Wayne. Immediately Dent wanted to get to meet Batman and when the press conference is called he did not actually want the man behind the mask to step forward. Sacrificing himself in hope that Batman would indeed to the right thing in saving him.
A small joke made by Rachel about how terrified Harvey was of the trust fund brigade, but this was very interesting to see unfold when he could not cope with Bruce Wayne and his pals. The fundraiser that was thrown in his honour was something that he did not really want to do or attend. Which shows his character in different situations as he was quite happy going up against the mob and criminals of Gotham even having a gun pointed at him in court not effecting him as much as the rich socialites of the city.
The panic of trying to free himself from being tied up whilst also talking to his love Rachel was never going to end well. A very cruel technique used as they both left with people they trusted and woke up tied up, with a timer and being able to speak to each other. Having to try and reassure the other that everything was going to be ok. That was far from the truth as Batman and Gordon attempted to get the locations of the pair. Falling into oil drums and being stuck on the floor with the oil, mixed with fire was never going to be a good combination, especially as he also had to say goodbye to Rachel.
The build up to seeing him physically injured from the incident was rather impressive, as we see that his nickname given when he was working internal affairs was about to become very true. He really had become Two-Faced. But while visually we can see he has changed the important thing to really focus on is that as a person his spirit was well and truly broken. So much so that he would never be the same again, especially when it comes to the choices he makes when seeking revenge. I also feel it is possible that his new outlook on life links with how he looks, so with his features being destroyed by the oil people will expect him to be a monster.
We instantly see him become the villain when waking up with his face melted off basically, then seeing his coin on the bedside table knowing that Rachel was not saved. She had his double headed coin, something that she did not realise to begin with when he loved leaving things to chance. Now though the coin would also become a symbol of his new dark side, one side of the coin had been burnt. This was one of his trademarks of leaving things to chance, although in his lighter days he always said heads for what he wanted the outcome to be knowing that was the only option. Now it would become a sinister game and first used with none other than The Joker, something he certainly likes very much!
In that very sense The Joker had already won, he took Gotham’s real hero with a face and proud to represent and be changing the city, not needing a mask like Batman and destroyed everything about him. Taking away someone you love being the worst possible thing to happen. That is what he cannot deal with at all, after the encounter with The Joker and managing to escape the hospital before it was blown up he sets on his way to find the people responsible and involved in Rachel’s death. Picking them off one by one and letting the coin decide, as soon as he makes the first kill it is sure that he will never be the white knight again.
The turning on Jim Gordon and forcing him to lie to his family, holding his young son at gun point. That really is one very dark turn right? Especially when Batman seems to take forever to arrive. Anyway the final scene and moments with Dent really show that he had become the evil monster, the villain that he predicted right at the start of the film. Although Batman was not going to allow the world to know about Harvey Dent becoming the villain, he was symbol in a different way to the dark knight and everyone just needed to continue the good work he started.