When it comes to Batman villains, Harvey Dent aka Two-Face, is one of The Dark Knight‘s – and DC Comics‘ – most iconic and twisted baddies, yet despite his near perfect origin story, he’s very rarely used in meaningful ways, leaving fans of the character left wanting. Through the constant retelling of his harrowing journey from star district attorney of Gotham City to the mentally fractured evildoer he is today, Two-Face has very few stand-out stories that aren’t related to his origin in some way, and now, it’s abundantly clear that the character has suffered because of it.
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Two-Face first appeared in 1942’s Detective Comics #66, and immediately fit right in with Batman’s eclectic group of villains. Joining the likes of already established characters such as the Joker, Catwoman, and Penguin (to name a few), Two-Face arrived on the scene with a killer visual design and a coin-flipping gimmick that has become one of his most defining traits.
Yet when it comes to depicting the character not just in comics, but across various other forms of media, Two-Face’s origin is constantly front and center, never giving the character room to breathe and grow outside of his horrific – and at this point, widely known – transformation from good guy to evil villain. In films like the near perfect movie that is The Dark Knight, the recent animated adaptation of Batman: The Long Halloween based on the graphic novel of the same name, the story-focused video game adventure of Batman: The Telltale Series, and even the comic continuation of Tim Burton’s Batman film in the limited series simply titled Batman ’89, Two-Face can’t seem to get away from an origin that admittedly might be one of the best ones out there, but one that hinders him nonetheless.
No doubt experiencing a compelling, tragic, and extremely graphic beginning (having acid splashed across one’s face isn’t exactly the nicest thing to look at), Two-Face’s origin acts as an interesting commentary on what happens to people who support the vigilante known as Batman, and what happens to a man whose inner demons finally get the best of him. Barely used as of late outside of a few random appearances that weren’t exactly enthralling, Two-Face’s corruption and transformation into who he is today is a story that writers constantly go back to, going so far as to give Harvey storylines that end up acting as “re-origins.” Seen in both ‘Face the Face’ and ‘My Own Worst Enemy,’ even Two-Face’s best stories can’t think of anything for him to do other than once again fall into darkness.
Unlike his more heavily used co-workers Joker, Bane, or Scarecrow, Two-Face isn’t trusted to hold his own as the “Big Bad” in a sweeping event like ‘The Joker War,’ ‘City of Bane,’ or the upcoming Scarecrow event dubbed ‘Fear State.’ But as well as being major threats, these characters are also often used as hurdles in smaller adventures; something that Two-Face can’t exactly claim. Developed too thinly to carry a huge crossover event yet far too big to really be utilized in day-to-day adventures, Two-Face is stuck in Batman villain limbo, waiting to be given the right material to become more than a rarely seen gangster who used to be friends with the Dark Knight.
So while it’s a bit sad that DC Comics can’t seem to move past Two-Face’s origin by letting him flourish and organically develop into a villain that wants things (other than the next flip of his coin, that is), this character is still as iconic as ever. And although Two-Face clearly deserves better, Batman fans will have to wait for that one story to come around that’ll show exactly why he’s considered one of the most brutal, tragic and interesting character in all of comics.