Double Faced issues…

25 09 2010

When The Dark Knight was released, some two years ago now, I had a problem with it after my first viewing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film, and is now one of the more watched DVD’s in my admittedly small collection. However, I still have a problem with it. Not so much the entire film as the last quarter of an hour or so tagged onto the end. I blogged briefly about this back at the end of 2008. It was a small gripe, but one which, for me, spoils the film.

Two-face is a complex and under-appreciated Batman villain. He is one of the more complex Batman villains conflicted by various factors to the point where making a simple judgement is left up to fate. He was deserving of a film to himself. And yet they tagged his story onto the end of the fabulous Joker one.

Of course, past experience probably counted for a lot, and Tommy Lee Jones’ turn as the epitome of a split persona in Batman Forever perhaps convinced the writers of the ‘new’ Batman movies that Two-face was not a character who warranted development. They were wrong. The origins of Two-face in The Dark Knight are to be applauded. We are given a monster who is driven by absolute anguish to avenge the death of the woman he loved. This character not only looks the part, his story is one which tells of a fall from grace into the world he tried to destroy. All for the love of a woman who didn’t love him. The potential for Two-face was huge. And yet the writers killed him in a story which seemed to be tagged onto the end of The Dark Knight, ruining, for me, what was, otherwise a great movie.

My preference for the story of Two-face would have seen him developed in the next movie. A man blinded by rage but restricted by chance is one which I would have looked forward to receiving. The more interesting point is that Two-face, unlike the Joker, and other villains, is not motivated by unveiling Batman. If we run with the story begun in The Dark Knight, Two-face is motivated by revenge, he doesn’t want to see Batman unmasked, he actually wants him dead. A plot based around this, supported by another villain (although I would be reluctant to pair it with the rumoured appearance of the Riddler again as it would draw unnecessary comparisons with the aforementioned Batman Forever).

The long and short of it is that there was something of a contrived ending which wound up explaining to the audience why the movie was called The Dark Knight. This was, I thought, pretty self explanatory from the movie, without the ending spelling it out for me (“Why’s he running dad?”…). We didn’t need the piece with Two-face and his ultimate demise. It was, I felt, something of a cop-out, and spoiled the end of the film for me.

I am, however, still looking forward to the next movie, which if Christopher Nolan is to be believed, is to be the last under his stewardship. This is a pity, and I hope they do not spend the entire movie being preachy about right and wrong, good and evil etc etc etc. The pity is that Two-face will not be a part of the ending.

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11 responses

26 09 2010
Alex

They spent half the movie developing the Harvy Dent charator and the catalystist which created the two face charater.

Surely this is how it should be, after the transformation 2 face is defined by a binary personality, yes/no, black/white etc etc, and it’s random.
This is means that there is no chance of charater developent as he’s essentailly a switch.

Also it is clear that the plan for the 3 films was to
First: create the batman charater, his drive etc
Seconed: break down the batman charater and turn him into the antihero
Third: reabilhilitate the batman charactor

The joker creates two-face and thus the darknight, to see how batman would have overcome this phscological warfare would have been really interesting. Twoface would have never been able to present the same level of challange and interest. The planing skills the Joker is atributed make him interesting, the manic dog switch has never had ability in this. Which to me would main argument to keep the last film to just the Joker and Batman, they needed Harvy Dent/Two face and just him to great effect. There wasn’t enough space in 3 movies to do all this AND have a two face movie.

Okay so that isn’t going to happen now but I can’t wait to see how they do it, that guy from ‘Inseption’ should be good, although for the physcoligical egde Knowlend likes they might go for the Riddler which might be seen as a imitation of the Joker.

I’ve spent fare to long writtening this so I’m gonna make some food, chow for now :P

26 09 2010
Luke_D

As far as I’ve heard, it will be the Riddler as the next villain, with Johnny Depp rumoured, I think, to be playing him.
Re Harvey Dent/Two-face, yes, they created him and, to some extent, developed him before breaking him, but I still maintain there was more to come from the villainous side of the character. Two-face is one of the most conflicted Batman villains, his development as a villain motivated by revenge/justice could, I think, have been taken so much further than they last ten minutes of an otherwise good film. Perhaps, admittedly, the problem with Two-face is that he isn’t a character to carry an entire movie, but I jut feel there was more to his story than we had. Just my thought.
In many ways it is a shame they have limited the number of films to three (although it is understandable). I am slightly concerned that the last film may be too concerned with wrapping up all neatly, and ending the story. There are a few possible ways of doing this: (a) they kill Batman. So much of the antihero he sacrifices himself for the greater good. (b) they retire Batman. Having won the battle with the next villain, they determine that he has ‘saved’ Gotham sufficiently to let the ‘white knights’ of which Dent was the first, flood the city with optimism (thus completely contradicting what I feel is the point of Gotham City as a creation anyway – seperate issue!) (c) they leave it open ended, allowing the possibility of further stories. Only the last option leaves it with, what I feel, would be the best ending, if the least fulfilling. The lack of a clean ending would best reflect Batman as a character I feel.

26 09 2010
Alex

People said Johney Deep to begine with but the Knowland seems more likely to go for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that role now.

I think that there are way more films to come but if you think what happened in the 90’s I think a nice long gap is needed to stop them having to use crappy badguys and having nippel incidents.

26 09 2010
Alex

Sorry put in a random ‘the’ in there! please ignore

26 09 2010
Luke_D

Personally I feel that the advent of the Bourne trilogy, plus ‘grittier’ comic-book/graphic novel adaptations (Watchmen, Sin City etc) mean that the return of crappy badguys, nipple incidents and, heaven forbid, Mr Freeze, are now unlikely. There seems to be the realisation that there is a real market for the comic-book action movie, as opposed to the comic-book action/comedy that was Batman and Robin.
The foundations of a solid series of films is there, and I think personally there is the potential for maybe five films (unlike, for example,the Spiderman series, which was much more in keeping with earlier, more ‘cartoony’ comic-book films and hence had a much shorter shelf-life) without it getting stale, with the current incumbents all involved (assuming, however, a quicker turnaround of films). Consequently I’m not sure such a break is needed, but can fully understand the desire of the people involved to do something else.
On another point, I don’t think Batman Forever was a bad Batman movie, of course Batman and Robin killed it, but the psychology portrayed in Batman Forever was actually quite good. Of course the two 90’s films were somewhere between the Adam West Batman and the Christian Bale Batman, and probably suffered because of it.

27 09 2010
Alex

hmmm I think that we’ll have to agree to disagree on the merits of batman forever…

First a divergence: do you consider Batman Returns to be part of the 90’s stuff because I would say that there is a clear distingtion between the neo-gothic Tim Burtern master peices and the Schumacher crap that came afterwards. (yeah I know who produced Forever)

I think it is good that there are two different comic book styles of I which I prefere the stuff that takes its self to seriously, (but still enjoy snacking on the popcorn)

But trying to be grity and realistic presents a problem as serious films need seroius villians which in some way make you think ‘This could never happen… but could it…’ (it never could… but still…), I think that the DC and Mavel cannons are going to struggle to provide villens these returning back the comic villians,

This is born out by the choice of villians, we’ve had Havey Dent, The Joker twice and the only villian people can think of having next is The Ridler again. (Bale and Nolan have possibly to intense styles to pull of a catwoman or penguin)

Anotherthing…

I think that they have been trying to do ‘Dark’ comic ataptation for a while now, The Crow (1994) Spawn (1997) Blade (1998) and even that bar scene in SuperMan, (if only the spider man director had seen that mabye we wouldn’t have had the Jazz/Emo Spidey…)


(see I even did reasearch!)

27 09 2010
Luke_D

Nope, there are (if we ignore the Adam West era) three clear Batman-film eras, the ’80s’ which Batman Returns belonged to; the ’90s’, with Forever and B&R, and the ’00’s’ with Nolan, Bale et al.
Forever isn’t anywhere near the best movie, but it stands head and shoulders above B&R. Ok, so the plot wasn’t great, but the insight into the Batman character and the conflict within the person was, in my opinion, pretty good.
I’m still not convinced by the comic-y style of the Spiderman movies, and think that their faults are exacerbated by the success of the Nolan-era Batman.
With regard the repetition of the villains, I think this is largely because of their familiarity. Two-face, the Joker, Riddler etc are familiar to the non-comic book viewer (Following the Halle Berry debacle, I’m pretty sure Catwoman won’t be touched by anyone anytime soon!), and so the writers can consider themselves on safe ground picking them.
However, the new Batman writers/producers seem not to be afraid to introduce more unfamiliar villains, Ra’s-al-gul in Batman Begins is clear proof of this. Batman has a whole plethora of villains to pick from, and there is merit in the idea that picking another, more obscure villain may be easier for the writers to mould into whatever they want; check this list out:- http://listverse.com/2010/01/02/top-10-filmable-batman-villains/
There is also a difference between a ‘dark’ or ‘faux-dark’ character, like your Superman scene, and a dark film, which none of the Superman films were, but the ’80s’ Batman and the ’00s’ Batman were and are. In my mind, the darker, more action-y movies are much more preferable.

27 09 2010
Alex

oh i do agree with and acknoldege that i wasn’t to clear with difference between the dark and the faux dark,

I was just using the super man scene as an example of how even back then and even in such a bad film they where trying somethng different

i would disagree with the saying it is not dark though, it’s a scence where not much happens and would be completly unremarkable,
it’s a guy who’s pissed of about how his life has turned out and turned to drink, from the look of his face you would say that he hasn’t been sober for while BUT he’s not enjoying the alcholic, he’s using alcohole as a pain killer, all this is done without words or crappy music or undue sentaments
added to this there also an extra element of questing faith in your heros that is brought into the scene (this needs sentitment cos of what it is)

so yeah no superman movie has ever been Good/Intelligent, or well acted
but for one scene a superman film may actually have been interesting and possibly dark

27 09 2010
Alex

damn!
okay ‘these’ should be ‘thus’ and ‘to should be ‘too’
it’s a pity we can’t have these debates about other movie adaptations, it seems the movie people find it easyier to forgive a bad Batman, perhaps he’s america’s true James Bond?

27 09 2010
Luke_D

It’s hard to have such conversations about other movie series’ cos I’m not sure there’s really been a recurring character interpreted in such different ways. Bond, for example, was basically the same character with the same persona until Craig’s reworking of the role (which arguably was born out of the impact of Bourne). The trouble was that the reworking, whilst good from a film point of view initially, killed the essence of the Bond character.
That Batman is not a conventional superhero helps the character, and consequently, the films interpret him how they see fit. I’m not sure movie people necessarily forgive a bad Batman, but rather that there is the acceptance that, as the last movie insisted upon telling us, he can be anything he is needed to be. That the character is not a shining beacon of patriotic American hope in the same way Superman and Spiderman are is to the benefit of the character and the storytellers. Perhaps he is the American Bond, but I think there’s something more to Batman, I just can’t put my finger on quite what that is!

3 10 2010
Luke_D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man_(film_series)

“Entertainment Weekly called Vanderbilt’s script “gritty, contemporary” and referenced Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman film series, which also reinvented the tone of the series.[44]”

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