Billy Dee Williams – Batman (1989)
Can you say, “let down?” No, not in Billy D’s performance, but in what it ended up turning into. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Billy Dee Williams was only Harvey Dent in this movie, leading one to assume that he would turn into Two-Face in the next or a film further down the road. But it never happened.
I was completely fine with the idea of having an African-American actor play the role of Two-Face. In fact, I though it was ground breaking and interesting. And above all else, the man is a good actor and I wanted to see what he would have done with the part.
He plays Dent just as he should always have been – the crusading D.A. of Gotham City who won’t stop until the criminals, the mobs, the freaks and Batman are long gone. There’s a certain charm that Billy D. has would have been very interesting to see him on the other side of the coin (pun intended). I would love to see him evil and angry and just a badass villain. While he may not be one of the widest known actors in the world – outside of his Star Wars role – I think he is one hell of an actor and could have been the best Two-Face we’d have seen yet.
Alas, Warner Bros did not want him to continue with the role once they got to Batman Returns and turned his character in Christopher Walken’s evil business character who, as it turns out, would have been scarred at the end with Catwoman’s tazer kiss and became Two-Face for Batman Forever. This ranks up there with the Fanboy “Missed Opportunities” along with Dylan Baker as the Lizard in the Spider-man movies.
Richard Moll – Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
The first time we heard Two Face speak was in this show. For whatever reason, this character was never introduced in the 1960’s television show, or prior, so we had our first taste of him then. And what a break out role it was. Moll plays Dent as a hot headed D.A. with a passion for justice.
The problem is, the justice system in Gotham city is just as corrupted as the police force or any other business for that matter. When he is denied warrants and people disappear or change their accounts because of the mob – he goes off into violent frustrated rages that result in some bad press. What’s most interesting is the relationship formed in the show between him and Bruce Wayne – as well as Batman.
Harvey knows them both well and when his scarring occurs it not only destroys those relationships but weighs heavily on Batman’s conscious. The psychological aspects taken on by this show were way ahead of their time and their audience’s perception. This show was intended for 13 year olds and yet there are some very mature subject matters and scientific social issues being addressed in Harvey’s character.
It’s great stuff for any adult who watches it, but I’m not sure as a kid I entirely understood what they were talking about most of the time. But luckily, once his face gets half blown up and he speaks with his gravily voice and flips a coin – we get it. From then on out, the character gets very gimmicky and violates his own motivation – being obsessed with the number 2. And then we lose interest.
They attempt to revive interest in him by Bruce paying for a procedure that fixes his face only to have him scar it again, and then taking on another persona as “The Judge.” But nothing ever seemed to work out.
Aaron Eckhart – The Dark Knight (2009)
Ladies and Gentlemen: the whole she-bang. This is what we were all waiting for. While he does steal the arc and focus of the movie, this is Two-Face with out a doubt. One of my favorite things about his portrayal is that all of his actions are motivated and we see him change his outlook on life because of the circumstances put upon him.
What I love even more, is that his character relationship with Batman isn’t a focus. It’s somewhat of a given that they would have a relationship – but what really echo’s in my head is the relationship he has with Commissioner Gordon. Wow. It’s just perfect. Much like what they’ve done in the comics for so long where Dent and Gordon work together as best they can while having differing opinions on what to do. Law and Order style.
My only criticism from Eckhart comes only through comparison. While he did a fantastic job with the role, he wasn’t as good as Heath Ledger was as the Joker. He needed to up his game quite a bit. Once he was scared, there never seemed to be a change in his vocal tone – which definitely would have been damaged by the burns, and never a sign of discomfort of the burns. The little things.
The Joker had scars on his lips and through force of habit would frequently stick his tongue out. No personal ticks where ever shown on Two-face and that disappoints me. It also incredibly pisses me off that they kill him in the film. I know it’s done in a way that can bring him back – but for now: he’s dead. And it sucks.