Matt Reeves' The Batman looks like it will arrive without Harvey Dent as a character, but that doesn't rule out Two-Face being a villain in the highly-anticipated reboot. Two-Face is one of the heavy hitters from Batman's rogues gallery, up there with the likes of The Joker and Penguin. And while there have already been two on-screen depictions of the infamous villain, the Batman franchise has shown that reinventing characters for a new generation is not only possible, but part of the legendary DC property's unending allure.
With The Batman set for an October 2021 release, Matt Reeves is set to redefine some truly iconic Batman foes. Alongside Robert Pattinson's younger version of Batman, the movie is set to feature Paul Dano as The Riddler alongside Colin Farell's take on The Penguin. Warner Brothers has also confirmed Peter Sarsgaard will be appearing in the film as a district attorney, initially fuelling speculation that he would be playing Harvey Dent — aka Two-Face.
At this point, it looks as though Harvey Dent won't actually be a character in The Batman, but that doesn't mean the film won't include Two-Face. Sarsgaard's character has since been revealed to be Gotham D.A. Gil Colson. While the character is an original creation, having never appeared in the Batman canon, that doesn't mean Reeves doesn't have big plans for him, and perhaps some retconning of the Two-Face origin story itself.
When The Batman's cast was confirmed in December of last year, Peter Sarsgaard appeared on the list, with several reports suggesting he would be playing a district attorney. Naturally, this led fans to assume the character was Harvey Dent, the Gotham D.A. who in the comic books becomes Two-Face after being scarred by acid. Bolstering such speculation was Matt Reeves' original tweet announcing Sarsgaard as being a part of the film. As many fans noted, the gif used in the director's tweet depicted the character with the reflection of a woman's face visible in the foreground. In other words, the image included two faces.
However, come January, Warner Brothers confirmed Sarsgaard's role as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson – an original character created by Reeves for his vision of the caped crusader. The development seemed to invalidate the Sarsgaard-as-Two-Face theory, and suggested Reeves was content to keep the focus on the two big-time villains (The Riddler and Penguin) already confirmed for The Batman.
Of course, at this point, details about the film's plot are still somewhat sparse, so a surprise Harvey Dent appearance — perhaps following Gil Colson's potential demise — could still be on the cards; however, it looks fairly certain that Dent is not a character in The Batman. For now, Gil Colson appears to be a way to fill the D.A. role in Reeves' vision of a Gotham City sans Harvey Dent — but that might not be the whole story.
While it seems fairly obvious The Batman will not feature Harvey Dent as a character, what's less obvious is whether Matt Reeves is planning to develop Gil Colson into an alternate version of Two-Face. Barring any studio pushback and concerns about fan response, there's technically nothing stopping the director from completely retconning the villain's origin story – even going so far as to change the character's original name. After Joker's success, Warner Brothers would conceivably be more amenable to original takes on well-established characters, and that could be exactly what Reeves has planned here.
Aside from presumably having the freedom to do as he pleases with his own vision of Batman's universe, Reeves has already altered The Riddler's real name for his film. The director changed it from “Edward Nygma” as it appears in the comic books and in 1995's Batman Forever, to Edward Nashton. It seems Reeves certainly isn't above modifying various elements of the Batman mythos, and Gil Colson as Two-Face could be yet another alteration.
Even more compelling is the rumored influence of the renowned comic book run The Long Halloween on The Batman's story. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's seminal mid-90s tale has been mooted as one of the main inspirations behind Reeves' noirish take on the Dark Knight — with the director confirming in a tweet that the storyline is one of his favorite Batman comic runs. The Long Halloween itself is a follow-up to Batman: Year One and tells the story of an early-career Batman on the hunt for a killer who dispatches his victims on public holidays. Batman works with Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent on his quest to capture the culprit, while a gang war rages between two of Gotham's mob families. Along the way Dent is transformed into Two-Face during a court trial when gangster Sal Maroni hurls acid in his face. Ultimately, Two-Face is revealed to be one of two 'Holiday killers,' in a final twist to the story.
If The Long Halloween is indeed one of the main influences on The Batman's narrative, how does Gil Colson fit into things? With D.A. Harvey Dent being such a big part of the comic book story, it seems at least possible Gil Colson could stand in for him in Reeves' adapted storyline. Of course, The Long Halloween being a direct influence for the film remains unconfirmed at this point, but with the movie said to be focused on Batman's detective abilities, and Reeves personally claiming it as a favorite comic book run, the story certainly seems to be a likely inspiration. With Dent being such a big part of that storyline in the comics, it seems likely that Reeves' version of the D.A. will also have a larger role to play than audiences may expect.
If The Batman does include its own take on the Two-Face origin story, it seems likely it will only be to establish the character as a villain for a potential sequel. With The Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman all set to appear in The Batman, Reeves will no doubt want to avoid overloading the movie with two many villains and suffering from Batman Returns syndrome. Having Gil Colson's Two-Face revealed at the end of the movie would avoid any such issues and would also be in keeping with the aforementioned Long Halloween narrative.
That said, changing Two-Face's original identity will likely be divisive among Batman fans. The character is one of the more prominent villains in Batman history, and to alter his origin story to the extent of actually removing the Harvey Dent name altogether is bound to be controversial. Still, such a move would allow Reeves to differentiate his version of Two-Face from that of Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal in Batman Forever and, more recently, Aaron Eckhart's take in The Dark Knight. The latter is something Reeves and Warner Brothers will no doubt be eager to distance The Batman from — given that Reeve's feature comes on the heels of Nolan's celebrated trilogy.
While a lot of the information revealed thus far points towards a possible Two-Face appearance, recently Sarsgaard revealed Gil Colson is a “politician who has trouble telling the truth” – even going as far as to refer to him as a “pretty distasteful person.” Two-Face is built upon the narrative of a man with a noble spirit descending into homicidal depravity, forever dealing with that ongoing duality. Therefore, establishing Gil Colson as a sleaze-bag from the jump would seem to fly in the face of the character's core. Of course, everything suggests Reeves might well be looking to completely subvert the Two-Face story, if he is in fact planning on introducing him as a character, so Sarsgaard's comments don't necessarily rule out Colson as a potential Two-Face.
Ultimately, there aren't a lot of prime Batman villains that haven't been given the big-screen treatment, so there's no reason why Reeves, who's already reintroducing on-screen versions of The Riddler and Penguin, would steer clear of Two-Face. Tweaking the character's backstory to the point of actually changing his original identity would also be a creative way of providing a truly novel vision of a well-established character — even if it irks some fans. All of which means it wouldn't be surprising to see Two-Face established as a villain towards the end of The Batman. Until the movie arrives, there'll be plenty of detective work for fans eager to figure this one out.
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