Harvey Dent, Gotham’s White Knight, is the city’s new District Attorney and he always has his game face on when prosecuting crime. In a city where the mob bosses are so far up the crime chain that no one can ever touch them, it is a blessing that this incorruptible force, this enforcer of law, is willing to take the fight to them face to face.
Dent is everything Batman can’t be. He is a tangible face fighting for Gotham’s citizens. A face they can look to for inspiration. A face that lives a strong, untarnished life within the bounds of the law. While Batman masquerades around the streets breaking countless laws, sporting a cape and hiding behind a mask, Dent is able to campaign for the good faith of the people. Batman shines a symbol into the cloudy night sky to put fear in the hearts of criminals; Harvey puts his face on the billboards and posters to inspire the hearts of hard-working citizens.
One thing I love about Harvey Dent, and most of the characters of Gotham is that their origins stories are so interesting. For all that goes on in Dark Knight between The Batman and The Joker, it could easily be looked at as one big Origins of Twoface story. Harvey is one of the first reactions to the work done by Batman. Harvey rose to the DA position after investigating police corruption through internal affairs. He has a guilt-free conscience in the fight for justice, and he applies this moral standard with the strength of his convictions.
The second thing I love about Harvey Dent, and most of the characters of Gotham, is the awesome symbolism — and Harvey Dent is some of the simplest yet compelling symbolism around. A District Attorney should be sure of himself, he should possess an unflinching desire to do good. What Harvey has is a coin he flips on every important decision. ‘Heads – yes; tails – no.’ But the trick is his coin has two heads on it (two faces you could say!) In the fight for justice Harvey Dent cannot be compromised.
To have Dent’s character in the movie with Batman and Joker is what makes Dark Knight such an amazing movie to me. While The Batman and The Joker battle it out over every inch of Gotham’s soul, it is the soul of Harvey Dent that becomes the biggest battleground. As Harvey closes in on a conviction against the Mob, The Joker sparks into action. He picks apart the judicial system until Harvey is all that is left. Harvey doesn’t flinch. He calls out for Batman to surrender. Harvey surrenders himself. He sets up another scheme that results in Harvey’s girl dying and Harvey having half his face burnt off as well as his coin being scorched on one side – now if this isn’t symbolism for the ages I don’t know what is. Harvey cracks.
The Joker wins this fight. He proved to Dent, Batman’s greatest ally, that justice is a myth. That chaos and anarchy are inherent in man. Someone as well-natured as himself is still accountable for the world’s twisted sense of humour. Chance is the only form of justice that can’t discriminate. Harvey looks at his coin with the heads side still pure. Twoface looks at the other side. Twoface will never make another decision in his life.
His first flip of the coin is The Joker; Live or Die. The coin spares his life. But Harvey isn’t finished. The crooked cops who fell under the Joker’s sway; Live or Die. Sal Maroni, head of the mob; Live or Die. Finally his logic takes him to Gordon and Batman. Why would the commissioner let such a corrupt force exist? Why would The Batman save him and not his girl? Live or Die.
This discussion started with Batman and I felt that I had to expand it to incorporate The Joker and Twoface but in the end it has to come full circle. Every time an evil force comes to Gotham, Batman steps up. He does whatever it takes to save the city. And when Harvey Dent, the shining pillar of light, Gotham’s White Knight, goes on a killing spree, his whole legacy is lost. Every good he fought for is wasted. The people lose their hero and their hope. The city will be worse than ever. But Batman must step up. He orders Gordon to put the blame on him. Let the people be united by Harvey’s death. Let them unite in a hatred for The Batman.
I have always thought the truth precedes all other motivations and yet here it can do no good. Batman, the ultimate superhero who has sacrificed so much in his life — his easy street lifestyle, his love, his deserving admiration — is now willing to be seen as a villain for the people to loathe. In my own daily life I try and emulate Batman’s selflessness. I sometimes think about wearing a band around my wrist inscribed with the letters WWBD. In the face of every possible adversity Bat don crack. This is why I love Batman.
Check out the other characters in the series:
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