The White Knight
|Appeared in|| The Dark Knight|
The Dark Knight Rises
- "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian."
- ―Harvey Dent [src]
Harvey Dent was Gotham City's District Attorney. He earns the name of Gotham City's White Knight. He gets disfigured in an explosion and manipulated by the Joker, turning him into the villainous Two-Face.
Born in Gotham City to Harry Dent, a police officer employed as a member of Gotham's finest, and Lucy Gold-Dent, a disrespected housewife, Harvey Dent is frequently abused by his father every time the senior Dent uses a peace dollar coin to decide whether his son will go without a night of beating. Unbeknownst to Harvey at the time, the coin is double-headed, meaning that no matter which side it lands, it would always result in him getting beaten by his father's nightstick. His father's status as a retired cop also prevents the proper authorities from stopping his child abuse, and Harvey even learns of the Gotham City Police Department's disrespect of his mother when he is hiding under the stairwell of his parents' apartment and overhears a group of cops saying that she was once "one of them". Though he doesn't know what that means, the boy is sure that it isn't a nice thing to be called. Harvey always loves the way his mother combs his hair and dresses him, telling him how handsome he looks. His teachers at school agree to that and give him good grades. Though he doesn't believe that he has only a father who often beats his family in disagreement, Harvey comes to realize that as long as others believe it, he may be able to find a better life with his mother.
His wish comes true at age 10, when his father moves out without divorcing his wife, saying that he can't stand the sight of either of them, and takes up residence in a rented room near the precinct where he works. Harvey only sees him once on the street with a middle aged woman who looks a lot like his mother, but never visits nor sends cards. One night at age 16, he comes home late from his after-school job at a local pharmacy and finds both his parents dead in the same room; his father lying on the floor with a gun against his head (which bears a bloody hole) and his mother hanging from a knotted sheet attached to the ceiling around her neck. Despite letting friendly Detective Al Grooms look into the case of their deaths, no investigations confirm whether the Dents have committed suicide or been murdered. But because of whatever happened to them, Harvey is left to grow up alone in the dark apartment filled with an unidentifiable odor and the crack and groans of the old building, pitied by his classmates at school and the priests at the church that his mother sometimes attends.
Following his high school graduation, Dent spends his entire time at Gotham University and law school at State University studying with no intention of attending any proms, dances, football or basketball games. It is in the studies that he simply finds his profession (and vocation) within the law, which makes sense to him since it transforms the chaos of human existence into logic, fairness and reasonable rules that can be obeyed, offering stability and structure. By the time the law reveals itself to him, Dent becomes aware that his looks are what many think is his greatest asset and sees it every morning while looking into a bathroom mirror. Oddly, though he doesn't believe it possible for him, but is willing to use his face as a tool and show it to the world as a means of reaping whatever benefits the display conferred. Earning his history and pre-law majors from both colleges at age 21, Dent begins his law career as the clerk for a supreme court judge and rises rapidly to popularity by playing hard by the rules, hoping to stand up Gotham for by cleaning up crime and corruption it is living upon that he comes to hate. This hardship and goal placed upon him is mainly due to the fact that the abuse from his father, as well as the police's failure to stop it, gives him a deeper hatred of corrupt cops, leading to him to pursue a place in Gotham's Internal Affairs Division and spearhead an initiative through his office to weed out that police corruption by investigating each cop, including those who end up working in the Gotham's new Major Crimes Unit (MCU). While many of these cops, along with several corrupt courthouse officials give him nasty nickname such as "Harvey Two-Face", others become inspired by Dent's investigations and offer him the job Gotham's District Attorney following the death of previous DA Carl Finch. Dent is sometimes slow to prosecute, but he always wins every case and becomes destined for greatness in ridding the city of organized crime by means of the law and the courtroom, much to the applause of its citizens.
Dent started his campaign by bringing down any mob owned bank he could find, and arresting as many criminals as he could. After Batman captures gang leader Lau in Hong Kong, Dent puts every single one of his clients on trial at the same time. The Joker attempts to kill him at Wayne Manor during a party dedicated for him, but Bruce Wayne locks him out just in time.
After the supposed death of Lieutenant Gordon, Dent claims to the press that he is the Batman and turns himself into the authorities. This is actually a ploy to lure out the Joker out. The Joker attacks his detainment truck with a bazooka, and Batman shows up. After the battle, his plan was successful, and Gordon (who faked his death) captures the unsuspecting Joker. Before he could make it home, the corrupt cops driving his car turn him and Rachel in to the mob.
Trapped in an explosive-rigged warehouse, Dent falls and knocks over a large can of gasoline which spills onto the left half of his face. Later, as Batman is saving him and the building explodes, a spark catches on that side of his face, burning and disfiguring him into "Two-Face".
Though Dent is taken to Gotham General Hospital, he refuses pain medication and skin grafts due to his grief and rage; he blames Rachel's death and his disfigurement on Batman, Gordon, and the Joker. Later the Joker breaks in and feeds his hatred, giving him a handgun and asking him to create "anarchy".
Harvey "Two-Face" starts facing the corrupt cops and the mobsters one by one, flipping a coin to decide their fates. First, he kills Michael Wuertz, the policeman who betrayed him and took him to the building where he was disfigured, he then confronts Maroni, who paid the policemen. He makes Maroni tell him which police betrayed Rachel, Maroni tells him it was Ramirez. Two face then kills Maroni by shooting the driver of the car. Last he confronts Ramirez, the coin lands on the favour for her to live so he punches her and knocks her out. He is not seen again until the end of the film when Batman finds Gordon and his family with Dent at the building where Rachel died. Harvey proceeds to judge Batman, himself, and Gordon through the chance of coin flip, which he sees as the only fairness left in the world. Harvey shoots Batman in the stomach but before he can determine Gordon and his son's fate, Batman tackles him over the side of the building, killing Dent and saving Gordon's son.
To preserve Dent's image as Gotham's hero, Batman asks Gordon to blame all the day's deaths on Batman. Hence, the police force start a manhunt for him and Gotham has a funeral for the "White Knight".
After Dent's death, Gotham's population is convinced that he was a true hero, brutally slain by Batman. In his name, a new law was created, a law which allowed the police to clean up the streets for good, arresting criminals with no possibility of remission. Commissioner Gordon, anyway, tried several times to relieve his conscience by telling the truth about Two-Face and his death, feeling guilty for living a lie and forcing Batman to retire in name of it. His last attempt was made during the eight Harvey Dent's Day, a new celebration instituted in the hero's memory, but Gordon prefers to leave the people with their illusions on their "hero" and hides his intended speech.
The truth about Harvey Dent is revealed nevertheless, when Bane, who has conquered and isolated Gotham City, steal Gordon's speech. In front of Black Gate Prison, a jail built for the application of Dent Law, the mercenary reads the paper, revealing to the world that Batman was innocent of Dent's killing, and that Harvey had become a murderous psychopath following Joker's manipulations, thus destroying the myth around Two-Face's persona and revealing that Gotham's peace has been built on a lie.
To be added
- Two-Face - Villain identity.
- Harry Dent - Father; deceased.
- Lucy Dent - Mother; deceased.
- Batman - Ally turned enemy.
- James Gordon - Ally turned enemy.
- The Joker - Enemy.
- Rachel Dawes - Lover; deceased.
- Nolanverse (2 films)
Behind the Scenes
- Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face: The Gotham district attorney who is hailed as Gotham's "White-Knight"; Dent's battle with the Joker turns Dent into a murderous, disfigured vigilante called "Two-Face". Producer Charles Roven described Dent as initially the "white knight of the city". Wayne sees Dent as his heir, which comes back to the theme of him realizing that being Batman will be a lifelong mission, and the tragedy that follows when Dent is corrupted. Whereas Two-Face is an evil villain in the comics, Nolan chose to portray him as a twisted vigilante to emphasize his role as Batman's counterpart, and Eckhart, who has played corrupt men in films such as The Black Dahlia, Thank You For Smoking and In the Company of Men, notes: "He is still true to himself. He's a crime fighter, he's not killing good people. He's not a bad guy, not purely," while admitting: "I'm interested in good guys gone wrong." Nolan and David S. Goyer had originally considered using Dent in Batman Begins, but they replaced him with the new character Rachel Dawes when they realized they "couldn’t do him justice". Before Eckhart was cast in February 2007, Liev Schreiber, Josh Lucas, and Ryan Phillippe had expressed interest in the role. Nolan chose Eckhart, whom he had considered for the lead role in Memento, citing his "extraordinary" ability as an actor, his embodiment of "that kind of chiselled, American hero quality" projected by Robert Redford, and his subtextual "edge".
- For Two-Face's make-up, Eckhart warned, "When you look at him, you should get sick to your stomach. Being the guy under all that, well, that was a lot of fun for me. It's like you would feel if you met someone whose face had pretty much been ripped off or burned off with acid ... There are fans on the Internet who have done artist's versions of what they think it will look like, and I can tell you this: They're thinking small; Chris is going way farther than people think."
- Mark Ruffalo was originally considered for the part of Harvey Dent / Two-Face.