Doing Batman Right 5: The Penguin and Two-Face

By Bob Case Posted Wednesday Nov 29, 2017

Filed under: Batman 58 comments

I should’ve mentioned last post that I was planning on taking Thanksgiving off. But now I’m back with The Penguin and Two-Face.

As I explained in the first of these posts, one of Batman’s strengths as a property is versatility – the ability to go from goofy to serious and everything in between and back while still remaining Batman. This same quality applies to some of the Rogue’s Gallery as well, and the flexibility inherent in the property allows for individual performances to drive the change.

The Penguin: A Tale of Two Actors

The Penguin first showed in Detective Comics #58 and subsequent issues of the same, dressed like the monopoly guy, wielding trick umbrellas, and occasionally riding around on an ostrich. He seemed destined for the second-string villainhood he so richly deserved, and, for a while at least, he fulfilled that destiny.

Then came the Adam West show, and with it Burgess Meredith. Did you know the old Penguin was played by the same guy who played Mickey in the Rocky movies? I went almost my whole life without realizing that, and have since lowered my opinion of myself accordingly. Meredith played the Penguin using the method shared by Cesar Romero, Eartha Kitt, and other notable villains: he turned the ham up to eleven.

Don’t take that as criticism. (It’s my belief that all of the best acting is overacting anyway.) The show’s writers liked his Penguin so much they always kept a Penguin script on ice in case he became available. He was used often enough that he graduated from the second string to the first, and has been considered a “main” (for lack of a better word) Batman villain ever since.

So for a while we all thought we had a pretty good handle on what The Penguin was. Then came Danny DeVito.

It's always sunny in Gotham.
It's always sunny in Gotham.

While up until this point The Penguin was a relatively normal dude who happened to dress like a gilded age railroad baron, the DeVito/Burton incarnation of the character was a grotesque flippered mutant who lived in a sewer and gorged himself on raw fish. He also had a prominent hooked nose, twice interrupted a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and eventually planned to kill every firstborn in Gotham. As near as I can tell from reading the accounts of the filmmakers, this unlikely confluence of anti-semitic tropes appears to have been a genuine accident. I didn’t notice them when I first saw the movie, but on later rewatches I could see someone finding it at the very least uncomfortable.

Regardless, the Batman mythos has reconciled these two radically different takes on the character in its usual way: by having its cake and eating it too. Today’s Penguin is rarely a literal mutant, as DeVito’s was, but it has incorporated an element of the grotesque – in practical terms, The Penguin got uglier. So did his motivations – while tempted by money and power, he’s also driven by resentment driven by his appearance. He’s determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these days.

To top it all off, he’s got maybe the best name in all of Batman. Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. You can’t go wrong with that one. Charles Dickens himself feels a twinge of professional envy when he reads it.

Most Batman villains exist somewhere between a traditional comic book-type villain and a gangster like you might see in a detective story. The Penguin is one that works best, in my opinion, when he’s closer to the gangster end of the spectrum. Periodically Batman has used him as an informant, a role that also suits him well. I guess that’s my closest thing to a “Penguin rule”: give him a role that showcases his wits rather than his various trick umbrellas. Having him get into a straight-up physical contest with Batman is rarely satisfying.

Two-Face: The Origin Story That Never Ends

On the long list of things that The Dark Knight got right, Harvey Dent and Two-Face are at or near the top. First they got the Dent/Gordon/Batman alliance right, and then they showed something important about Harvey Dent: the dark side of him was there the whole time. It was Harvey Dent who first approvingly referenced the Roman habit of appointing dictators, and Harvey Dent who later threatened one of the Joker’s goons with a gun, seeming to enjoy the power he had over the man’s life.

Had you not deflected the acid, we would have had to just call him One-Face.
Had you not deflected the acid, we would have had to just call him One-Face.

The disfiguration of half his face is often cast as Two-Face’s origin story, but to me it works just as well as the end of his story as the beginning. It’s the frustrated idealist that becomes the most broken person of all, and the burned face is an expression of that brokenness, not the cause of it.

Post-scarring, Dent often serves a predictable and somewhat repetitive role: to tease Batman (and the audience) with the possibility of redemption, only to backslide into villainous ways once again. For this reason really good Two-Face stories are relatively rare. The Dark Knight handled the problem deftly by just killing him off not too long after his face-heel turn.

If you do want to go past the “origin story,” the best Two-Face material is to be found in the relationship between Dent and Two-Face, and the exploration of how the “Apollo”-like golden-boy prosecutor (incidentally, Aaron Eckhart was the perfect casting choice) and his twisted alter ego are fed by each other. One particularly clever gimmick (during the “Cataclysm” event where Gotham was in shambles due to an earthquake) was a storyline in which Jim Gordon was put on trial in a criminal-run kangaroo court. The prosecutor? Two-Face. The defense attorney? Harvey Dent.

Part of what makes Two-Face work is the sense of moral danger he brings with him. If Harvey Dent could turn bad like that, then so could Batman. In fact, what if Batman already has? Bruce Wayne shouldn’t be able to look at Two-Face without seeing something familiar.

I was going to finish this week’s post off with the Joker, but while writing it I realized there was too much to say on that subject to make him the third part of a three-parter. Instead, he’ll get his own post next week.


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58 thoughts on “Doing Batman Right 5: The Penguin and Two-Face

  1. Viktor says:

    Yeah, Harvey Dent and Penguin are both villains that are pretty easy to get right. Focus on the human element and add in the gimmicks for zest. There’s also not a huge amount of conflicting interpretations of them.

    The only thing I’d do with Two-Face that usually adaptations don’t do is that I’d introduce Harvey Dent early and hold off on the acid for a couple movies/games/episodes*. Give the audience a good chance to consider him an ally and a friend before the turn. Yes, Nolan did it well in a single movie, but that’s Nolan. In general, let people have a few appearances where he doesn’t get turned into a villain before you finally pull that trigger. For the comic book fans it builds suspense, for the general public it adds weight to the eventual collapse.

    *I also recommend doing that with Harley Quinn. Show her as a doctor at Arkham, a good one, that actually understands the patients well enough to be making progress with some of them. When Joker subverts her, it should feel like he could get to anyone, and when she starts being openly villainous she should be established as smart and capable enough to feel like a threat right off the bat. That’s tough to do in a single movie or episode.

    1. Blockenstein says:

      Tim Burton was setting this up. He had Dent, played by Billy Dee Williams, in his version of the Batman mythos. It wasn’t until Joel Schumacher got his mitts on the franchise that Williams got replaced by Tommy Lee Jones.

      Fun fact: Williams voiced Two Face in the LEGO Batman Movie.

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        I’ll always wonder about the alternate universe where we got a Billy Dee Williams Two-Face and a Marlon Wayans Robin.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Agreed. Establish just how far this person has to fall, first – then the fall has much more value.

      Related: I remember in Arhkam Asylum, you can find audio tapes of Harleen Quinzel trying to work with Joker, and she sounds like…a student, or unqualified, or something. Definately young, naive, possibly stupid, and DEFINITELY not someone you’d leave alone in a therapy room with a hardend criminal. Arkham Asylum comes across as pretty damn irresponsible in those tapes.

      But a story about Joker slowly, slowly, driving a mature and competent psychiatrist mad? Turning her into something like him? That’s much more interesting, and much more scary.

      1. Awetugiw says:

        Arkham Asylum irresponsible? What? How on earth did you get the impression that this clearly incompetent organization that mostly seems to exist to get people killed is irresponsible?

        But, yes, the turning of Harley would be much more menacing if she was more experienced.

    3. Jack of Spades says:

      You have to use Two-Face in the second movie. Because he’s Two-Face.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I kinda miss the days when you could set a trap for Two-Face by like holding a special exhibit of the Janus Diamond or similar at the Second Bank of Gotham at 14:00 on the 2nd of February.

      2. BlueHorus says:

        Coming soon to a theatre near you:

        Batman 2: Return of the Bat.
        Twice the action!
        Twice the excitement!
        Twice the gadgets!
        And twice…the faces!

        I’d dig it.

    4. Aevylmar says:

      The animated series also did this. In the first episode featuring Harvey Dent, he was a friend of Bruce’s in need of rescuing; it wasn’t until the second or third that he got his Two-Face origin story.

      1. Felblood says:

        When it comes to getting Batman “right” that series has a lot of great examples, but Big Bad Harv is right up there.

        No show has only great episodes, but that team beat the odds by a wide margin.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Yeah, they also did the “introduce the dark side” first, although it was in the episode where he became Two-Face, and had one of the best explanations for it: Harvey was repressing it because he had had a bad experience while young that made him afraid of anger. So when he became Two-Face it became a way to let those repressed feelings out.

          Also, one of the earlier episodes — before he became Two-Face — introduced Poison Ivy, which led to this hilarious scene in another episode, where the main villains are sitting around playing poker and Ivy shows up:

          Poison Ivy..

          Poison Ivy:
          It’s been a long time Harvey,you’re still halfway decent.

          Half of me wants to strangle ya.

          Poison Ivy:
          And what does the other part want?

          To hit you with a truck.

          Poison Ivy:
          We used to date.

    5. Dreadjaws says:

      The first Batman Tellale game did such thing. Dent starts as Bruce’s friend, and it’s only on the third episode that he turns into Two-Face, leaving ample time for his story to develop.

    6. Blackbird71 says:

      I’m not sure on Nolan “doing it well”. It’s been a while since I watched “The Dark Night”, but I do remember that after the creation of Two-Face, I was thinking that it was about time to wrap the movie up and leave the new villain for the sequel. Cramming in another villain plot and resolution felt tacked on and just seemed to make the latter part of the movie drag.

      Again, this is based on a dusty memory, so maybe I’m getting confused, but that’s what I recall.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I think the strung-out denouement was necessary for a main aspect of Nolan's story, which was about how The Joker turned heroes into villains (Two-Face becoming an actual villain, and Batman becoming a villain in the eyes of the public). But on a very recent viewing I did find this whole aspect of the trilogy hung together rather less well than I'd originally thought*, and I agree it thus made things drag a bit.

        *For example we're just told – multiple times – what a hero Dent is to Gotham: we never really see any evidence of it, which is a bit odd given it's such a huge part of DK, and then again a big part of DKR. (It's the whole reason Bats has been in hiding – to maintain this facade that Batman was the killer so there's no stain on the memory of Dent. Commissioner Gordon is clearly wracked with guilt at this, and at one stage even starts screaming about it to a judgey Rob… Joseph Gordon-Levitt.)

        I'm not saying this was a critical flaw – it's just one of those things that appears to work fine whilst you're first watching, but starts seeming a little flimsy once you begin to think about it. I think Nolan is a master of such, really – and it all seems to work so so well in the original moment that it does seem a bit churlish to criticise. (And perhaps he doesn't care about the third or fourth viewing because he's such a virtuoso of the first. Which would be fair enough, really.)

        But, anyway, Dent's hero-status in Gotham is so crucial to the overall story that (once over-analysed) one perhaps feels it could do with a bit more establishing than a few complimentary testimonials from other characters and an admittedly exceptionally heroic chin.

  2. Potsticker says:

    I really dig the Telltale Batman game’s take on Penguin. In this Batman mythos the Cobblepots are one of the wealthy families of Gotham, like the Waynes and the Kanes. Bruce and Oswald were childhood friends before Oswald had to go to the UK for some reason where he fell into crime. He’s thus a kind of darker mirror of Bruce Wayne which works really well.

    I haven’t watched the TV show Gotham since the first season but Robin Lord Taylor’s take on the character was also great.

    1. Cinebeast says:

      I believe “The Batman” cartoon from the mid 2000s also took this route, making the Cobblepots a rival family to the Waynes that fell out of power. I might be misremembering, but I’m pretty sure they added some backstory for Alfred that suggested her used to serve the Cobblepots, or his father did or something.
      I think that’s a pretty damn good idea, even if I am misremembering it.

      Of course, that was the same show that turned Penguin into a literal ninja, so they weren’t all good ideas.

      1. Polius says:

        I’d say less a ninja and more a manic gremlin. I actually didn’t hate the animation they did for that, even if it didn’t fit the traditional role the penguin played. The one that really made me face-palm was when he actually managed to steal and use Hal Jordan’s ring. That was a bridge too far for me.

    2. I also like the Gotham portrayal of Penguin. There, he’s a proud and smart, but minor, criminal. (In the first season at least. I’ve gotten a bit behind on that show.) He’s always getting insulted, threatened, and beaten by more notorious criminals, and you almost pity him. Almost, because as soon as he gets a little power for himself, you see how much he enjoys being the bully.
      I’d say they nailed the portrayal of a smart, devious, arrogant, and petty criminal mastermind with something like a Napoleon complex.

      1. Viktor says:

        I read a Penguin comic once from the perspective of a girl he rescued from sex trafficking. He was a perfect gentleman, didn't expect anything of her in return, and then he courted her like a gentleman. They may have been falling in love. And then on one of their dates a chef at the restaurant disrespected him. He ruined that mans life. Drove the restaurant out of business, got his girlfriend deported, bought and bulldozed his favorite park, opened a liquor store across the street when the guy is a recovering alcoholic. Eventually, the guy killed himself. The next time she saw Penguin, the girl was afraid of him, just for a second, and Penguin saw it. He took her back to the auction he'd saved her from and left her there.

        1. Felblood says:

          That’s how you do it. Penguin should be both frighteningly human and appallingly monstrous in his motivations.

          Pride is his theme, and pride can take a person to some very dark places. He’s proud, as in stiff-necked and egotistical, but he’s actually got some sort of self-esteem issues brewing underneath. He has a terrible fear that he is worthless and that other people can see it, and it’s snowballing inside him. He is compelled to prove His Greatness to The World, especially those Doubters who dared to mock him.

          This compulsion exists because he is in denial over the fact that he himself is The Doubter. He doubts his greatness and he needs to prove it to himself, but he’s too proud to admit that, so he has to built his entire life around pretending he doesn’t have a problem.

          There is no elephant in his room. Everything is Fine. Great, even! Anyone who says Penguin has imported wildlife in his residence will receive a ticking parcel, shortly. Nothing is wrong. It’s always sunny in Gotham.

          Penguin can’t ever have the high reputation and genuine, human relationships he craves so badly. Not because he’ll never have the money, or the power to reach for it, but because he’s too emotionally stunted to hold on to it, when it finally falls within his grasp. He can’t accept that he lacks the actual social grace of a civilized person, so he’ll never just learn it.

          He will always destroy the things he covets, but his torment of Tantalus can’t last forever. He’s obligated to deserve The World’s adoration, and if he can’t do that, that’s just another shame he can’t bring himself to face. The guilt train is self loading, and he’s certain that if he ever stops running from it, the heartache will kill him.*

          Desperately fleeing the oncoming confrontation with self-realization, he cheats. He takes a bride he doesn’t need, just to feel the spending money in his pocket, or rigs an election to assuage his fear of losing it, trying to build his self-esteem faster than it leaks out. Except when you cheat, you feel guilty and unworthy of victory, and also afraid that people will find out what a fraud you are.

          This is not an effective way to deal with a growing load of shame and anxiety. The more he cheats, the worse he feels. The worse he feels, the more desperate he gets for positive reinforcement. The more desperate he feels, the harder it is to resist temptation, next time he has an opportunity.

          His life is a ticking clock as he works to amass power, wealth and influence to bury his shadows, faster than the underhanded tactics he uses to amass those resources.

          Batman should be in the story too. He needs to minimize the collateral damage as much as possible, and help protect people who could expose the Penguin, like Dent or Gordon. However, in the end of his grandest schemes, Penguin should always be found hoisting himself by his own petard, naked and hideous in front of the world he begged to look at him and respect him.

          Not literally though; nobody wants to see that.

          Whether he’s physically deformed, was humiliated by Thomas Wayne as a kid, or just can’t to live up to his family’s expectations of what the New England gentry ought to be, doesn’t really matter, at all.**

          What matters is that the man feels intrinsically inferior to other people. The reason you pick will always be stupid, because that’s a stupid feeling and if a character has it they should really admit that it exist and that it is a problem. One does not pretend that it isn’t there and wait for it to turn into a personality disorder, that makes melting forty schoolchildren to fix an election, sound like a reasonable way to make and keep friends.

          *(Heartache won’t kill you. This is actually the gateway to escape. Stop running and face the problem. It is a painful thing, and few people as far gone as Penguin can pull themselves through. The same personality habits they want to escape from make them too weak to make the change. –but they do experience some temporary relief of symptoms, just by trying, and again, not actually deadly; just painful and scary.

          Self-worth starts with the humility, to make an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses, even if some of that honesty hurts a lot. It takes courage, and it takes knowing that it is not wrong to have flaws, and you need to forgive yourself, to focus on improving those flaws.)

          **(Rates of suicide, madness and sci-fi authorship among the “degenerate nobility” were/are quite high.)

          Side note: Penguin and Baby Doll are an interesting dichotomy. If you’re doing them well, you can swap one out for the other in a script, and the only thing you’ve changed is the tone of every scene in the script.

        2. Hamilcar says:

          Can you…can you…tell me which comic this is? I gotta read this!

          1. Viktor says:

            I looked it up, Joker’s Asylum: Penguin. Joker’s Asylum was a series of one-shots a few years back focusing on individual Batman villains. Highly recommended.

            1. Hamilcar says:


      2. BlueHorus says:

        He also seems to have plot armour to rival Ramsey Bolton in Gotham. I get he’s not very experienced at crime in season one, but three episodes in and I’m going “Come on – what are you, stupid?” to almost everyone he interacts with.

        Still, one of the things that makes Penguin so good is that he’s similar to Bruce Wayne.
        The arrogance, the simple denial/rationalisation of his problems, the idea that he just deserves or maybe needs to be to act the way he does becaue of his parentage and/or wealth…

        They’re extreme, darker examples of what Bruce does.

        1. Syal says:

          Well… he does have plot armour, being one of the future Batman villains, and a lot of the people he interacts with are stupid.

          It’ll get both more egregious and less grating, because Gotham is a very silly show at heart.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            I’m really on the fence about this show.

            It’s fast-paced, I’ll give it that. The plot moves so fast they occasionally don’t have time to bother answering questions like ‘wait, how did he get there?’ or ‘er, how does she know that?’ or ‘he’s arranged what now?’ – which *I* would have said were important in a cop show, but whadda I know. Still, it’s never boring.

            But, it looks like a cop show, is about a cop, yet a lot of the screentime is devoted to the Cliched Adventures Of Not-Very-Bright Criminals (and Oswald Cobblepot).
            Or Jim Gordon arguing with his fiancee. Which…just why? That’s a plot for a more serious show, surely.

            -So, two (spoiler-ish) questions: Does Fish Mooney die/leave the show at any point? I can’t stand her at all and she ruins every scene I see her in. If she’s a fixture for the entire show it might just be a deal-breaker. Just a yes/no would be appreciated.

            -Does the acting get more hammy/the tone change? For the content and the writing, it seems to be taking itself a bit too seriously at the moment. If this was my show, I’d be telling my cast to channel the inner Nick Cage more than they are.

            1. Blake says:

              Answer to question 1: I can’t remember if that character is alive in the show anymore, I don’t think they’ve been a part of the current season in any case.

              Answer to question 2: Hell yes it becomes the most bonkers show on tv. Jim Gordon remains ever the straight man as the world (and inhabitants) of Gotham get wackier and wackier.

            2. Dreadjaws says:

              In answer to your first question, that character is killed… but then brought back. Gets a bit more interesting after coming back, but not by much. In any case, the focus on that character is gone, so that’s a plus.

            3. Syal says:

              They’re sort of the Big Bad of Season 1, and drop off sharply once Season 2 rolls around. If they’re that hard to watch, I think you could skip to 1’s finale and only miss one plot element.

              For tone change, Penguin blows up a zombie with a rocket launcher and that’s before the show gets crazy.

            4. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Its called Got Ham for a reason.Boy does it get hammy later on.Its glorious.

              And yes,fish will leave later.She is integral to penguins plot in season 1,but not later.

            5. BlueHorus says:

              Excellent. Thanks, guys. I’ll stick with it a while longer.
              I think with a change in tone this show could well become glorious.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You should definitely continue watching gotham.It has got even more ham later on.

  3. V says:

    The Dark Knight handled the problem deftly by just killing him off not too long after his face-heel turn.

    Don’t you mean his face-face turn? :P

    1. Felblood says:

      Well, he had a Face Face, and a Heel Face, after the Turn from Face, so it was really a Face-Face Face/Heel Face-Turn.

      1. Durican says:

        I’m now picturing Nicholas Cage as Two-Face. Well done.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I want

          to get batman

          unmask him and then

          to have

          his face


        2. Thomas says:


          1. Decius says:

            Two-heel/face turn-off

  4. Grampy_bone says:

    Good point about Two-Face, I never thought of the character that way.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    For whatever reason that escapes me right now, Two-Face never got an adaptation in the 1960’s TV show. I believe they were planning one before the show was canceled, but they obviously didn’t get to do it. He did get an introduction in this year’s “Batman vs Two-Face” animated movie, which is set in that series’ universe.

    Of course, Two-Face’s darkness, personality disorder and fight with his own self are elements relatively new to the character. Before, he was just “obsessed with duality”, and his sole gimmick was that he’d commit crimes related to the number 2. This was, of course, pretty silly, and was never going to fly when comics started gearing towards a young adult audience, but surely the 60’s show would have had a field day with it. It was exactly the kind of thing that show thrived on.

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      Considering how expensive any kind of prosthetic work was for 1960s TV (e.g., in Trek TOS you never see more than four unhelmeted Vulcans/Romulans onscreen at the same time, that’s how costly pointy ears were), I’m willing to bet they just couldn’t find a way to do the makeup that looked decent without burning through their production budget.

    2. Urthman says:

      I think they could have just used makeup to make half of Two-Face’s face look weird. You could even ditch the prosecutor-disfigured-by-acid and make him a weirdo obsessed with Two Sidedness who flips coins for fun the way Riddler tells riddles. Would have fit right in with the other Adam West villians.

      1. Decius says:

        That much makeup is difficult and expensive. It’s important that it look consistent from shot to shot, which is why most of the series makeup is relatively simple.

  6. Christopher says:

    A rule I’d add to both of these guys, and a lot of Batman’s villains for that matter, is that they’re better if they aren’t fighting. It’s nice that they have a unique look and a weird personality, but at the end of the day they’re just weird, ugly dudes. I always appreciated that the Penguin kept Solomon Grundy in the basement as his boss fight in Arkham City despite the Penguin being the villain of that arc, and the same goes for the Joker and his relationship with Clayface in the game. There are Batman villains that are better at the personality stuff, but if you want to actually have an interesting superhero/superhero fight at some point in your superhero story, it’s better if Joker just paged the Royal Flush Gang or someone before the punch-up starts. Otherwise the best you can hope for is the Penguin doing something silly with an umbrella or Two-Face handling a grenade launcher.

    This is why characters like Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow and Clayface are my favorite Batman villains over people like Joker. You’ve got to be able to provide some sort of entertaining schtick that’s not just your personality. Depending on the tone, setting and budget the best Joker can come up with on his own is a clown-faced robot or two hungry dogs and a lead pipe, which is just… boring.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah, it’s Batman.
      While I’m sure you could write a story in which a posh man with a novelty umbrella is a genuine threat to the Dark Knight, it’s not really believable, especially if there’s other vllains around. Outsource the action to a more intimidating/powerful villain when it comes to a straight-up fight.

      Penguin and Two-Face have their value in being their effect on/representing something about t Batman or Bruce Wayne, not in their combat ability.
      And it’s not like there isn’t a lot of interesting hired muscle to choose from in the rogue’s gallery…

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Had you not deflected the acid, we would have had to just call him One-Face.

    They already made that guy in the comics.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I’m not sure what’s going on in that image, but it looks dumb…
      Is it from the 90s?

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        No, it’s just really, really dumb. Sadly, the 90’s don’t have a monopoly on stupid ideas in comics.

  8. GargamelLeNoir says:

    Writing good two-face stories is indeed difficult because he has little going on for him after his origin story, but I did enjoy the Judge arc in Batman TAS, and the idea in the Arkham series that he handles his life of crime like politics, using electoral tactics to recruit criminals.

  9. Jabrwock says:

    The best Two-face stories I saw were where he’s Batman but one step too far. Batman stops the bad guy. Two-face kills or maims him to stop him from committing more crime. His Dent-side wants modern justice (stop the crime, proportional punishment, rights of the accused, etc), but his Two-face side wants old-school justice (assumption of guilt, punitive punishment to discourage others, guilty forfeit any rights, eye for an eye, etc).

    Dent is Batman working within the law. TF is Batman without any restraint. When the two clash, the coin is the ultimate arbitrator, because it can’t play favourites.

    1. Cinebeast says:

      I’m surprised more adaptations don’t take this route. They usually just make him a gangster, but I think it makes more sense to have him be a lethal vigilante, like a more evil variety of the Punisher. He is a DA, after all.

      I guess The Dark Knight, again, technically did this. But I really hope we get a strong, non-serialized Batman TV show in the future that can explore these kinds of ideas over the course of a season instead of condensing it all into a 2 hour movie.

  10. Clive Howlitzer says:

    For me, my favorite Batman villain has always been the Batman: TAS version of Mr. Freeze.

  11. Hal says:

    Hm, so are you limiting your list of “core” rogues to just these 5, wrapping up next week with Joker?

    Fine if you do, of course. Just curious to see who made the list and who didn’t.

  12. Zekiel says:

    The thing that’s always confused me about Two-Face is that he has a split personality. One of the personalities is routinely referred to as Harvey (Dent). The other one is referred to as “Two-Face”. But the whole character is called “Two-Face”. And the “Two-Face” personality only is thematically linked with ONE of Two-Face’s two faces. Am I the only one who finds this confusing?

    I was always rather keen on the take on him in The Dark Knight Returns (comic) where he gets plastic surgery to fix his scarred face… and the result is that the “Two-Face” personality ends up completely taking over.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Am I the only one who finds this confusing?

      Thog make two face.

  13. Mousazz says:

    “Lucky for Kent”? Wait, Superman was splashed with acid in a Batman comic?

    1. Xilizhra says:

      No, Two-Face was introduced with the name Harvey Kent, but it was changed to avoid Superman confusion.

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You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

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