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.