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Two-Face is a villain that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 (August 1942), and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Two-Face was once Harvey Dent, District Attorney of Gotham City and close ally of Batman. After a criminal disfigured half of his face with acid, Dent became the insane crime boss Two-Face who would choose to do either good or evil depending upon the results of flipping a coin—a device which was taken from the 1932 version of Scarface. Co-creator Bob Kane was inspired by a movie poster advertising the Spencer Tracy film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and conceived the idea of a villain with a dual personality.
Originally, Two-Face was one of many gimmick-focused comic book villains, plotting crimes based around the number two, such as robbing Gotham Second National Bank at 2:00 on February 2. In recent years, writers have portrayed his obsession with duality and fate and his criminal behavior as the result of dissociative identity disorder and a history of child abuse. He obsessively makes all important decisions by flipping a two-headed coin, one side of which is scratched over with an X. The fact that Dent was formerly a close friend and ally of Batman before his scarring colored their now adversarial relationship is also a more prominent element in modern stories.
Although too gruesome for the 1960s television show that popularized Batman and much of his rogues gallery, Two-Face has been a prominent foe of the Dark Knight and was played by Tommy Lee Jones in the 1995 film Batman Forever. The character will also play a part in the upcoming film The Dark Knight, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart.
When he first appears in Detective Comics #66, the character's name is Harvey Kent, but in later stories, his name was changed to Harvey Dent to prevent confusion with Clark Kent.
At twenty-six, he is the youngest district attorney ever to serve Gotham City, and is nicknamed "Apollo" for his good looks. He is elected about six months before Batman begins his war on crime, as depicted in the events of Batman: Year One.
His campaign against crime ends tragically during the prosecution of crime boss Sal "Boss" Maroni for murder. At a climactic moment in the trial, Dent produces Maroni's good luck charm, a two-headed coin he was well-known for carrying, which had been found at the murder scene with Maroni's fresh fingerprints upon it. Enraged, Maroni throws sulfuric acid in Dent's face, horribly scarring and discoloring his left hand and the left half of his face while leaving the other half undamaged; in some versions of the story, Dent is only saved from a face-full of acid by Batman's quick, but only partial, deflection of Maroni's hand. Tormented by his hideous reflection, Dent scars one side of Maroni's coin and lets tosses of the coin decide whether he acts for good or evil in any situation.
The comic book limited series Batman: The Long Halloween elaborates on these events, with some changes. In it, Dent, Captain (later Commissioner) James Gordon, and Batman forge an alliance to rid Gotham of crime. Mafia chieftain Sal "The Boss" Maroni is still the criminal who disfigures Dent with help from the corrupt Assistant District Attorney Vernon Field, who provides him with the acid (concealed in an antacid bottle). Dent gets his trademark coin from his abusive father, who is referred to as being in some form of mental institution (his relationship with his father was earlier introduced in Batman Annual #14).
History and analysis
Dent's disfigurement brings out his latent multiple personality disorder and transforms him into the villainous Two-Face. Obsessed with duality and opposites, Two-Face's trademark is crimes involving duality (the constant and obsessive use of the number two). Furthermore, his related obsession with opposites reveals itself in such "quirks" as wearing clothes with dramatically different materials on each side.
Another of Two-Face's trademarks is that he does not always go through with his evil deeds; every time he contemplates committing a crime, he flips a two-headed coin, one side of which is scratched. Only if the coin comes up scratched-side does Two-Face commit the crime, never questioning the result of the toss. Recent interpretations portray this compulsion as a struggle between Dent's evil "Two-Face" personality and his former, law-abiding self.
The character only made three appearances in the 1940s, and appeared twice in the 1950s (not counting the impostors mentioned below). By this time, he was dropped in favor of more "kid friendly" villains, though he did appear in a 1968 issue (World's Finest Comics #173), in which Batman declared him to be the criminal he most fears. In 1971, writer Dennis O'Neil brought Two-Face back, and it was then that he became one of Batman's arch-enemies.
In the wake of Frank Miller's 1987 revision of Batman's origin (see Batman: Year One), Andrew Helfer rewrote Two-Face's history to match. This origin, presented in Batman Annual #14, served to emphasize Dent's status as a tragic character, with a back story that included an abusive, alcoholic father, and early struggles with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. It was also established, in Batman: Year One, that pre-accident Dent was a major heroic figure working as one of Batman's earliest allies. Dent had clear ties to both Batman and Commissioner Gordon, making him an unsettling and personal foe for both men.
During the same period, Two-Face is revealed to have murdered Jason Todd's father, who had been one of his henchmen. Todd later has Two-Face at his mercy and chooses not to kill him, embracing Batman's ideal of justice. This storyline is later mirrored in the animated series of the late 1990s with Tim Drake substituting for Jason Todd.
During the Batman daily comic strips published from 1989 to 1991, his origin is slightly altered. In this version, Harvey Dent is scarred by a vial of acid thrown by an unnamed bystander, and intended for the Joker.
In 1989, writer Grant Morrison portrayed Dent's dependence on his coin in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. The doctors in the asylum attempt to wean him off his evil personality by taking away his coin and replacing it with a die and eventually a tarot deck, effectively giving him 78 options. The treatment fails, however; with so many options, Dent can't even make simple decisions. At the end of the graphic novel, Batman gives Dent his coin back, telling him to use it to decide whether to kill him. He tells Batman that the coin landed scar face down, and Batman leaves safely, but the next scene shows the scar face up, meaning that he miraculously chose to let Batman live. In the hardcover edition, Morrison said this was because it was April Fool's Day.
Throughout the history of the Batman franchise, attempts have been made to repair his facial scars but they have not yet cured his insanity; he simply destroys the one side of his face and becomes Two-Face once again. In Frank Miller's revival of Batman, The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne himself funds Harvey's rehabilitation, however, Harvey soon returns to crime and Batman must once again stop him from destroying Gotham.
During the aftermath of the earthquake that leaves Gotham City in shambles, Two-Face carves out a sizable portion of the ruined city for himself. He takes up residence in Gotham City Hall, maintaining a relatively sophisticated lifestyle. His empire is eventually brought down by Bane, who, in the employ of Lex Luthor, devastates Two-Face's gang during his destruction of the city's Hall of Records. Two-Face kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and puts him on trial for his activities after Gotham City was declared a No Man's Land, with Two-Face as both judge and prosecutor. Gordon plays upon Two-Face's split psyche to demand Harvey Dent as his defense attorney. Dent cross-examined Two-Face and wins an acquittal for Gordon, determining that Two-Face has effectively blackmailed Gordon by implying that he had committed murders to aid the Commissioner.
During No Man's Land, Two-Face meets detective Renee Montoya. Montoya reaches the Dent persona in Two-Face, and is kind to him. He falls in love with her, though the romance is one-sided. Later, in the Gotham Central series, he frames her for murder, hoping that if he takes everything from her, she will be left with no choice but to be with him. She is furious, and the two fight for control of his gun until Batman intervenes, putting Two-Face back in Arkham.
In the Two-Face one-shot book, Two-Face leads a crusade against Gotham City, culminating in the capturing of his own father to humiliate and kill on live television for the years of abuse he suffered. This story revealed that, despite his apparent hatred for his father, Dent still supported him, paying for an expensive home rather than allowing him to live in a slum. At the end of the book, Dent and Two-Face argue in thought, Two-Face calling Dent "spineless." Dent proves Two-Face wrong, however, choosing to jump off a building and end his life just to put a stop to his alter ego's crime spree. Two-Face is surprised when the coin flip comes up scarred, but abides by the decision and jumps. Batman catches Dent, but the shock of the fall seems to (at least temporarily) destroy the Two-Face side of his psyche.
In Two-Face Strikes Twice, Two-Face is at odds with his ex-wife Gilda, as he believes their marriage failed because he was unable to give her children. She later marries Paul Janus, a reference to the Janus (mythology) who had two faces, one facing forward, the other backward. Two-Face attempts to frame Janus as a criminal by kidnapping him and replacing him with a stand-in, whom Two-Face "disfigures" with makeup to make it look as if Janus has gone insane just as Two-Face had. Two-Face is eventually caught by Batman and sent away, and Gilda and Janus reunite. Years later, Gilda gives birth to twins, prompting Two-Face to escape once more and take the twins hostage, as he had erroneously believes them to be conceived by Janus using an experimental fertility drug. The end of the book reveals a surprise twist; Batman learns from Gilda that Janus is not the father of Gilda's twins - Dent is. Some of his sperm had been frozen after a death threat had been made against him, and she used some of it to get pregnant. Batman uses this information to convince Dent to free the twins and turn himself in.
In the storyline Batman: Hush, Dent's face is repaired once more via plastic surgery. This time around, only the Harvey Dent persona exists. However, he takes the law into his own hands twice: once by using his ability to manipulate the legal system to free the Joker, and then again by shooting the serial killer Hush. He manipulates the courts into setting him free, as Gotham's prosecutors wouldn't attempt to charge him without a body.
In the Batman story arc Face the Face, that started in Detective Comics #817, and was part of DC's One Year Later storyline, it is revealed that, at Batman's request and with his training, Dent becomes a vigilante protector of Gotham City in most of Batman's absence of nearly a year. He is reluctant to take the job, but Batman assures him doing good would serve as atonement for his past crimes. After a month of training, they fight Firebug and Mr Freeze, before Batman leaves for a year. Soon, Dent finds himself enjoying his new role, but his methods are seemingly more extreme and less refined than Batman's. Upon Batman's return, Dent begins to feel unnecessary and unappreciated, which prompted the return of the "Two-Face" persona (seen and heard by Dent through hallucinations). In Face the Face, his frustration are compounded by a series of mysterious killings that seem to have been committed by Two-Face; the villains KGBeast, Magpie, The Ventriloquist, and Orca are all shot twice in the head with a double-barreled pistol, implying that Dent was the perpetrator. When Batman confronts Dent about these deaths, asking Dent to confirm that he was not responsible, Dent refuses to give a definite answer. He then detonates a bomb in his apartment and leaves Batman dazed as he flees.
Despite escaping the explosion physically unscathed to a motel, Dent suffers a crisis of conscience and a mental battle with his "Two-Face" personality. Although evidence is later uncovered by Batman that exonerates Harvey Dent for the murders, it is too late to do anything to save him. Prompted by resentment and a paranoid reaction to Batman's questioning, Dent scars half his face with nitric acid and a scalpel, becoming Two-Face once again. Blaming Batman for his return (despite Batman's having consistently defended him to the authorities), Two-Face immediately goes on a rampage, threatening to destroy the Gotham Zoo (having retained two of every animal - including two humans) before escaping to fight Batman another day.
Two-Face is generally depicted with the left side of his face a twisted, discolored mess, with his lips and eyelids pulled back and his hair discolored or burned off. His left hand matches in some interpretations, while it is undamaged in others. The coloration of his deformity also seems to be at the whim of the colorist at the time, though green or purple seem to be the most common.
The severity of the disformations also vary. Most early versions of Two-Face depict his hair, ear, and lips as mutilated, but intact. Long Halloween and Dark Victory, however, depict Dent's scarred side with no hair, and the skin burned so badly that he no longer has his ear lobe, eye lid, or lips. What remains is colored pink. This look has also been adopted somewhat for his current disfigurement as part of One Year Later: although he retains his eye lids and lips, his ear lobe and hair are gone. His skin is also a dark red. There is also some question as to whether he retains vision in his left eye or is partially blind due to the acid strike (depending on the colorist, his left eye may not match his right).
His unscarred side generally has a more formal appearance, his hair (normally a brown or black color) is slicked or managed carefully and in most publications is depicted as having attractive features, aiding more to his insane duality.
- Duela Dent is originally depicted as the daughter of Two-Face. Creator Bob Rozakis stated, "It didn't take too long to decide whose daughter she would turn out to be. After all, the only married villain was Two-Face. I convinced Julie (and associate editor E. Nelson Bridwell, the acknowledged keeper of DC's historical consistency) that Harvey and Gilda Dent had a daughter, that Harvey had been disappointed because she wasn't a twin, and that they'd named her Duela." Titans Tower: Duela Dent
Other comic book appearances
As one of Batman's most recognizable and popular opponents, Two-Face has appeared in numerous comics which are not considered part of the regular DC continuity, including:
- In the alternate future setting of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, plastic surgery returns Dent's face to normal, but at the unforeseen cost of permanently destroying the good-hearted Harvey Dent personality, leaving the monstrous Two-Face in control forever. As he puts it when Batman captures him, "At least both sides match."
- In the Elseworld story Batman: In Darkest Knight, Harvey Dent is the Gotham District Attorney and distrusts Green Lantern (who in this reality is Bruce Wayne) because of his vigilante antics. Sinestro, after becoming deranged from absorbing Joe Chill's mind, then scars Dent's face and gives him powers. He calls himself Binary Star and worked with Star Sapphire (who in this reality is Selina Kyle).
- Two-Face also appears in the Elseworlds Batman/Daredevil crossover book, partnered with Marvel villain Mr Hyde for the purpose of using Hyde as an "incubator" to grow an organic microchip, giving Hyde drugs to speed up this process (regardless of the fact that this would kill him). It is also revealed in this book that Harvey Dent had once been friends with Matt Murdock, who is secretly Daredevil. Prior to his disfigurement, Dent believed in giving criminals a chance at rehabilitation, while Murdock believed in final justice; having reversed his outlook to what Dent had once believed, Murdock talks Two-Face out of killing Hyde without Two-Face using his coin to decide. Two-Face, however, insists that act is merely "the last of Harvey Dent."
- In the Elseworlds comic Batman: Masque, a pastiche of The Phantom of the Opera, Harvey Dent takes the role of the hideously scarred musical genius.
- In the Thrillkiller universe, there are two versions of Two Face. One is Detective Duell, an extremely corrupt officer on the Gotham City Police Department. He has a scarred face similar to Dent's. Duell is shown as being arrested at the end of Thrillkiller: Batgirl and Robin. In the sequel, Batgirl and Batman: Thrillkiller '62, Harvey Dent is shown as the new District Attorney. He is not very important and appears at the end as the new mayor of Gotham.
During Two-Face's third appearance in the 1940s, his face and sanity are restored. Although there was a demand to use him again, the writers did not want to retcon his last story, so they had other characters assume the role. The first impostor is Wilkins, Kent's butler who uses makeup to appear that the reformed Kent had suffered a relapse and deformed his face to appear as before.
Paul Sloane became the second Two-Face. An actor who was set to star in a biography of Harvey Kent (later renamed as Dent), Sloane was disfigured by an accident on the set in a manner similar to Harvey Kent. Sloane's mind snaps, and he begins to think he is Kent. Sloane recovered enough of his own personality but continued to remain as the criminal Two Face. Sloane was reused in later Earth-Two specific stories as Two-Face II of Earth-Two where the original Earth-Two Two-Face Kent remained healed (Superman Family 211). Sloane would be revived in the current continuity as a successor Two-Face as well (Detective Comics 777) though not replacing Dent as done in the earlier Earth-Two specific storyline. One of the major differences between Sloane and Kent was that only Sloane's face was damaged, neither his hair nor hand was damaged unlike Kent when he was Two Face.
The third Two-Face is another imposter a thug named George Blake, who like Wilkins is not actually damaged but is wearing make-up. Further more his makeup is worn on the opposite side of his face to Dent/Sloane.
Also noteworthy is a 1968 story where Batman himself is temporarily turned into Two-Face via a potion (World's Finest #173).
Aside from a 1962 reprint of the Sloane storyline, this was Two-Face's only appearance in the 1960s.
Another Two-Face appears in the Batman Sunday strips. Actor Harvey Apollo is scarred with acid when testifying against a mobster in court, and becomes a criminal. He only makes a few appearances before accidentally hanging himself after slipping on the silver dollar piece he uses as Two-Face.
As mentioned above, Harvey Dent does return as Two-Face in the 1970s. With the establishment of the DC Comics multiverse, however, the Two-Face of Earth-Two (i.e. the character seen in the original Golden Age stories) is said to be Harvey Kent, who had not relapsed following his cure. The last appearance of this version of Two-Face was in Superman Family #211 (October 1981), depicting him as a guest at the marriage of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). He meets Lois Lane and Clark Kent, and his shared name with the latter creates confusion.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths event the Paul Sloane character, with a near identical history to the pre-crisis version, appears in Detective Comics #580 and #581. In Double Image Harvey Dent (as Two-Face) employs Doctor Thorne (the Crime Doctor) to re-disfigure Sloane. Dent does this out of jealous bitterness and the hope that Sloane would commit crimes based on the number two - thus confusing Batman. At the end of the story Sloane is once again healed - physically and mentally.
Paul Sloane is introduced into post-Zero Hour continuity as Paul Sloan, the Charlatan, in Detective Comics #777 (Feb 2003). In this incarnation, the actor had been hired by Gotham's costumed criminals to take Two-Face's place in a scheme to kill Batman, Harvey's coin having come up unscarred. When the real Two-Face learns about this, he captures Sloan and gives him the same acid burns he had. The Scarecrow then experiments on him with fear toxins. Driven insane, the charlatan becomes obsessed with both getting revenge on the criminals who hired him and completing his mission to kill Batman.
The new Earth-3 has an heroic female counterpart to Two-face: Evelyn Dent, Three-Face. She was the mother of Duela Dent, and the Jokester (a heroic Earth-3 alternate Joker) was her father. Unlike Two-Face, Evelyn has three personalities and she is not scarred, although she has a cybernetic left arm, after Superwoman mutilated her. Her original affiliation was to the heroic Riddler Family.
The Earth-19 version of Two-Face is a serial killer called "The Double Man".
In the Elseworlds series Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham, model Darcy Dent has half her face scarred when a rival model hires a hitman to lace her facial cream with acid. Unlike the regular Two-Face, Darcy does not rely on a coin toss to make her decisions and wears a half business suit with a spiked metal bikini.
In other media
Billy Dee Williams appears as a pre-disfigurement Dent in Batman (1989). Williams took the role specifically to guarantee his casting in a sequel, reinforced by a pay or play contract. However, when Two-Face was to become a secondary villain to Jim Carrey's Riddler in the third movie, director Tim Burton had abdicated to Joel Schumacher, who decided to pay Williams' penalty fee to hire Tommy Lee Jones.
In Batman Forever (1995) Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Two-Face along side Jim Carrey's Riddler and opposite Val Kilmer's Batman. "Harvey Two-Face" plays up the "two" gimmick to the point where Two-Face even refers to himself in the plural. In the film, Two-Face (instead of Tony Zucco, as in the original comics) is responsible for the origin of Robin, when he kills the rest of Dick Grayson's (Chris O'Donnell) family. Toward the end of the movie he flips a coin to decide if he will shoot Batman, and Batman tosses a handful of identical coins into the air. Two-Face panics and tries to find his coin, stumbling and falling into a watery bed of spikes. His real coin falls into the palm of his hand as his body sinks, good side up. In the movie, Two-Face learns Batman's secret identity thanks to Edward Nygma's mind-reading machine. Interestingly enough, this incarnation of Two-Face is portrayed as an energetic and wacky psychopath (to match the film's version of the Riddler) rather than the quiet, bitter crime boss seen in the original comics and in Batman: The Animated Series. One notable difference between the two versions is that Jones' character does not usually accept the first result of his traditional coin flip, as demonstrated in the scene where he and his goons raid Wayne Manor: while deciding whether or not to shoot Bruce, he flips his coin several times until he receives the desired result.
The Dark Knight
Aaron Eckhart portrays Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, the sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins. In the film, Dent becomes a murderous vigilante—rather than an outright criminal—following his disfigurement, and director Christopher Nolan explained this was done to emphasize the differences and parallels between him and Batman. In the "jokerized" version of the second theatrical trailer, a frame showing the disfigured Harvey Dent has been defaced by The Joker with the words "my hero," suggesting that the Joker benefits from Dent's actions as Two-Face.
Batman: The Animated Series
In Batman: The Animated Series, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, voiced by Richard Moll, suffers from deep-seated psychological trauma resulting from years of repressing anger. As a result, he develops an alternate personality, "Big Bad Harv", who is as evil as his outer appearance is noble. "Big Bad Harv" would sometimes come out in the form of violent bursts of anger. Eventually, Gotham City crime boss Rupert Thorne gets his hands on Dent's psychological records and threatens to blackmail him with it. During an encounter with Thorne in a chemical plant, Dent loses his temper, putting his "Big Bad Harv" personality in control. A mobster's stray gunfire causes an electrical/chemical explosion. Dent is horrifically scarred by the explosion, and the stress of the events leaves "Big Bad Harv" in largely permanent control of Dent's personality. Batman, who as Bruce Wayne is Dent's best friend, is tormented by having to apprehend him again and again, gradually losing hope that he could ever be cured. Prior to his disfigurement, Harvey Dent is featured in two episodes. In "On Leather Wings", he plans to prosecute Batman if the police can apprehend him for crimes that are in fact being committed by the Man-Bat, and in "Pretty Poison", Poison Ivy woos her way into Dent's life as a possible fiancee in an attempt to kill him, as revenge for Dent's nearly killing off an endangered breed of flower by breaking ground on the construction site for Stonegate Penitentiary. In the later episode "Almost Got 'Im", he comments to her that both sides want to kill her in different ways.
The New Batman Adventures
In the final episode of The New Batman Adventures, Dent's personality fragments a second time, creating a superego personality called "The Judge", a violent court-themed vigilante that attempts to crush the id that is Two-Face. Dent, looking to eradicate this new threat to him, has no idea that he himself is The Judge. While using this identity he attempts to eliminate Killer Croc, the Riddler and the Penguin. As in Batman Forever, this version of Two-Face is also directly connected to the origin of a Robin: Tim Drake, whose father was Two-Face's henchman. This combined the origin and personality of the Post-Crisis Jason Todd with the name of Tim Drake, Todd's comic book successor. Tim's father was trying to hide the binary components of a toxic chemical Two-Face planned on using to hold the city hostage. Suspecting that Drake knew where the chemicals were hidden, Two-Face scours the city looking for him. Fleeing for his life, Tim eventually crosses paths with Batman and helps him bring Two-Face to justice, paving the way for his transformation into Robin.
Two-Face has a cameo in the Justice League episode A Better World, Part 2; an alternate reality Two-Face appears as the janitor of Arkham Asylum, having been lobotomized by that world's Fascist Superman.
Neither Two-Face nor Harvey Dent appears in The Batman animated series. However, elements of the character, including the concept of a law-enforcing friend of Bruce Wayne being turned into a horribly disfigured villain, are present in the show's interpretation of Clayface.
Justice League: The New Frontier
Two-Face has also appeared in several Batman-related video games. A pre-disfigurement Harvey Dent appears as a hostage of Poison Ivy in the video game Batman: The Animated Series (which carries Ivy's vendetta against Harvey for being indirectly responsible for the destruction of an endangered plant in the episode Pretty Poison). As Two-Face he is a boss in The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Super NES, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis, the video game adaptations of Batman Forever and Batman: Chaos in Gotham (in which he is the final boss).