In these days of the MCU’s dominance, and the DCEU struggling to define its brand, it can be difficult to remember there was a time when DC Comics movies were considered the last word in superhero cinema. And the crown jewel of those movies was Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman movie, The Dark Knight. In an interview, Aaron Eckhart, who played the role of Harvey Dent aka Two-Face in the film, explained how excellent writing has helped The Dark Knight stand the test of time, and still be relevant.
“Some scripts are whatever; you get through them and hey, fine. But The Dark Knight was a novel and it was thick. It was like reading literature. And there’s something about Gotham City too. You have a city that’s oppressed and being run by a criminal gang. People can’t go out during the day, everybody’s scared for their safety, and the people that are paid to protect them are corrupted. They’re part of the gang and nobody can trust anybody. Sound like anything that’s familiar? And then people are looking to a superhero for their liberty and their freedom. Not only is it a great story and a great movie, but this is what cinema and art are all about. It’s a reflection of our times. Chris knocked it out of the park and that’s why that movie is so important. And then, obviously, the performance of Heath. What a special, special movie. I was happy to be a part of it.”
Although Batman is technically the protagonist of The Dark Knight, it is repeatedly made clear that the most morally upright man in the story is District Attorney Harvey Dent, whose unwavering commitment to wiping out crime from Gotham draws the admiration of everyone from Commissioner Gordon to Bruce Wayne.
Unfortunately, Harvey’s idealism was no match for the Joker’s plans to corrupt every soul in Gotham and bring everyone down to his twisted level. Thanks to his machinations, Harvey ends up transformed into the vengeful criminal Two-Face. So much so that upon his death, Batman and Gordon decide to lie about the circumstances of Harvey’s demise so the citizens would continue to see Dent as their shining white knight. Despite his fall from grace, Aaron Eckhart believes Harvey would never have agreed to that final bit of subterfuge.
“[Harvey] would’ve told the truth. That’s the great thing about Harvey Dent. Despite whatever is going on, he’s a truth-teller and he’s a moral center. And not only that, he’s the face of truth, right? I don’t want to say he’s not hiding behind something, but he’s not. Now when he becomes Two-Face, he is. But Harvey Dent was out there fighting for every man and woman, for truth and justice, and he put himself on the line. But having done so, he got bit, and he was forever changed. But you don’t want to lose your Harvey Dents in life. No matter how much money or pressure there is, no matter how much coercion, control or corruption there is, Harvey Dent is going to stay true to the moral center and the truth. People can rely on that, and you don’t see that today.”
This news originated at The Hollywood Reporter.