Batman, as a concept, isn’t very realistic. But in 2005, Christopher Nolan tried to change that with Batman Begins. He gave the character a logical origin story, and even explained where all of his gear comes from. A man, trained in ninjutsu, inspired by the death of his parents, and with billions of dollars at his disposal, takes down criminals with a persona mirroring his greatest fear: Bats.
It’s a little ridiculous, granted. But it’s a nice attempt. And while the whole thing seems unlikely, it’s also plausible.
The first film had a bit of a sci-fi element, with the introduction of the Fear Gas, and some of Batman’s gear. I’m pretty sure memory cloth doesn’t actually exist. But nonetheless these elements didn’t seem too ridiculous, or too far outside the realm of possibility. Unlike the Burton series, with the magic automated homing Batarang.
In fact, you know what this reminds me of? James Bond. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t seen every film, because… fuck that. But every film I saw always had the scene in the MI-6 headquarters, where Q introduces 007 to all his gadgets. These were always great scenes. He not only introduces all the gadgets and show what they do, but often explains how they work. Like the invisible car; it has a camera on one side, and the image is projected on the other. It’s pretty cool, even though we actually know that it wouldn’t work since people have tried that and it didn’t. But it’s still pretty cool.
Anyway, in the new Batman films, Morgan Freeman is basically Batman’s Q. And that’s the greatest thing about these films; The fact that even though the gadgets are a bit fantastic, they still feel real, or at least on the cutting-edge. And it’s all thanks to Morgan Freeman, as he gives James Bat his load out. Only instead of a BMW, he gets a tank.
The sci-fi elements in Batman Begins even carried over into the design of Gotham city. Specifically, the designs of the Narrows, the monorail, and Wayne Tower.
I touched on this last time.
They make me think of the classic German expressionist film, Metropolis. (Admittedly, I still have to see that film.) It gives a bit of a how-the-past-thought-the-future-would-look feel. But this film takes place in the present day (I think), and we don’t design buildings like that. Though I wish we did.
Nonetheless, as amazing as the designs are in Batman Begins. For the sequel, Christopher Nolan decided to scrap all of that. Wayne Tower is redesigned into a generic skyscraper, and the monorail is gone. And I think, because of this, the first film had a much better aesthetic. However, that doesn’t really matter, because the second film had a much better everything else.
For starters, the villains. The first film featured Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow. Two villains that were tenacious, dangerous, but not very interesting. In the second film we meet The Joker. A truly evil motherfucker who tries to tear Gotham City apart. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
We open with a bank robbery by a series of men wearing clown masks, all hired by The Joker. The bank manager starts fighting off the robbers with a loaded shotgun, and the man trying to break into the vault notices it’s wired with high-voltage electricity. The bank is owned, operated and protected by the mob.
Each of the robbers is told to kill at least one other team member once they’re no longer useful, until finally one remains. The bank manager, suffering from several gunshot wounds, curses out the robbers. He says they are worse than the mob. The mob believes in honour, respect; and demands to know what they believe in. It’s kinda funny to see a brutal mobster moralize and yearn for the good ol’ days, when they broke people’s kneecaps with respect.
The last robber approaches him, and shoves some kind of tube in the man’s mouth. He removes his mask, revealing green hair, a painted face, and a permanent smile.
The Joker replies with, “I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.”
As he leaves. He pulls a pin off the tube, connected to a tether, and it releases some type of gas into the air.
Now if only we knew what that stuff was. Since we don’t, it ends up being the most random scene in modern film. But if I had to guess, I’d say it was Fear Gas.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne moved his operations to a well-lit underground warehouse, since Wayne Manor is still being rebuilt. Hardly the same style as the Batcave is it? But, he’s hasn’t slowed down since the first film, and now, he has to deal with copybats, armed with guns.
He arrives on the scene where the copybats are shooting at a gang leader, who has been buying Fear Gas from the Scarecrow, and selling it as a recreational drug. Yeah, I don’t see how that works.
He manages to subdue the imposters, and capture the Scarecrow. But he doesn’t come out unscathed. So, Batman realizes he’s not as fast as he could be, and decides to requisition a new, lighter suit from Morgan Freeman.
Meanwhile, Batman and Gordon are looking to take down the entire mob by going after their money. Batman provided some marked bills. Marked with a radioactive isotope. Clever, I must say, since it’s hard to detect. So far they’ve found five banks holding the bills, so it’s time to move in. Gordon mentions that the new District Attorney will want a piece of the action. Who is this new DA you may ask? Harvey Dent.
You remember Harvey! He was played in the first series by Billy Dee Williams. Then the character became Two-Face in Batman Forever after a jar of acid was thrown in his face, which scarred one half of his face, and stripped the melanin from the other, turning him into Tommy Lee Jones.
We meet this new Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, as he’s putting mob boss Sal Maroni on trial. In the original comics, and Batman Forever, Dent was disfigured by Sal Maroni when he threw the acid at Dent as he was on the witness stand, standing trial.
In this film, Dent is questioning one of Sal’s men when the witness pulls a gun in an attempt to kill him. But the gun jams and Dent knocks him out. It feels like a bit of a tribute to Two-Face’s original origin. But much less low-rent. Seriously, if you want to kill someone, don’t use acid, use a fucking gun! But here’s a big question: I thought American court rooms had metal detectors to prevent things like that from happening. How’d he get it through the door?
We don’t have that in Canada, but we also don’t have a major gun problem.
Dent has a flair for the theatrics. As he’s in court, he seems to be performing rather than interrogating. Particularly after his near-death experience.
Also of note: Dent is dating a new character named Rachel Dawes, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. It’s interesting. I did not know Bruce had two childhood friends in the DA’s office named Rachel Dawes. Must get confusing sometimes.
Of course it’s the same character, just recast. I hear Nolan or someone at the studio was pissed at Katie Holmes, since she didn’t work hard enough to promote the film. But I really despise it when something like that happens. It makes this film a bit incongruous with the last.
So Gordon goes to the DA to try to get warrants for the banks they tracked with the marked bills. Eckhart’s intrigued. He knows the Batman’s involved, and wants in. But Gordon plays dumb, after all, official policy is to arrest Batman, not to ally with him. Which is what I really like about this series. Vigilantism is technically illegal, no matter how good you are at it. So they should want to arrest Batman at any opportunity. But in the last series, the cops openly allied with him, and the Batsignal was public knowledge. Here, the Batsignal is actually claimed to be a malfunctioning searchlight.
Keeps the cops from getting legally wrangled in Batman’s activities. After all, if Batman kicks a criminal’s ass, they could get off by claiming the cops used unnecessary force. Particularly if it appears the cops are allied with, or even endorsing the Batman.
Anyway, Batman is, nonetheless, interested in meeting Harvey, to see if he can be trusted. Bruce meets up with Dent and Rachel as they are on a date. A quick conversation later, Dent reveals he actually endorses Batman, and justifies the guy’s existence. He explains that, in Ancient Rome, when the city was under threat, they would suspend democracy, and appoint a single individual to protect the city. Which actually makes sense given their form of democracy was direct, and cumbersome. Unfortunately the last person to get that position was Caesar and he never gave it up. Which causes Dent to say: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
He knows Batman doesn’t want to be around forever, and someone else will need to continue his work… someone like Harvey. Probably not to dress up as a bat and beat criminals, but to fight crime, his own way, with everything he has, no matter what the risk.
He gains Bruce’s trust.
But back to the mob. As Gordon begins the raid on the mob banks, he arrives to discover them empty, save for the marked bills. Turns out a Chinese gangster named Lau annexed all the money and put it all in a secure location, so the cops couldn’t get at it. Only he knows the location, and he’s going back to China, where he can’t be extradited.
Doesn’t seem very practical. Is the plan to just let the money sit there? I thought the primary purpose of money was to spend it. This plan means the gangsters can’t get access to it. True, it’s safe, but useless. What’s the point?
As all the families are meeting to discuss this plan, which has already been executed, The Joker arrives. Ah, yes, he didn’t go anywhere. You remember earlier he robbed a mob bank? Well at least one of the gangsters ain’t happy about that.
Now, how does this Joker fare against the last? Well, Jack Nicholson played a manic nut with a perpetual smile. In contrast, this Joker, played by Heath Ledger in his last major role, played a crazy psychopath with a perpetual smile. The biggest difference is this: Nicholson’s Joker fell into a chemical which fucked-up his face and hair. Why did it do that? Who knows! This Joker, however, wears makeup and uses green hair dye. But the most unusual thing is his smile: It’s a Glasgow Smile, or at least, the remnants of one. A Glasgow Smile, by the way, Is where you cut someone’s cheeks from the corners of their lips, all the way back. The victim is likely to scream as this happens, which end up widening the wound. Don’t think about this too much.
But, on the bright side, it sounds much more pleasant than being locked in a stone prison, unable to talk or move, but able to see and hear, for a thousand years. Yep! I said it! My Little Pony is, nonetheless, darker than this film.
So as The Joker meets up with the mob, he mocks them, and has absolutely no shame while doing it. He explains what’s really going on. That Lau’s plan won’t work because while Dent can’t have him extradited. Batman has no jurisdiction. And the fact remains that they’re afraid to do business, they’re afraid to go out at night. So he has a simple plan to fix everything: kill the Batman. In exchange, he wants half of everything.
This whole thing pisses off one particular mobster named Gamble, who quickly puts a half-million dollar price on The Joker’s head.
So, after all this, Dent signals Batman, but Gordon also responds to the signal and chews Dent out, after all, the mob must have been warned about their plan, which means there’s a mole, and it must be in Dent’s office. But Dent turns it around on him, since many of Gordon’s people are cops he used to investigate at internal affairs.
But none of that matters. They need to get Lau. Batman plans a quick extraction mission with Morgan Freeman’s help. He also get’s a new Batsuit, more agile, but more vulnerable. We can assume the construction is still based on the old suit. He also gets blades that shoot out of his wrists. Bit excessive if you ask me.
Freeman infiltrates Lau’s company, and maps out the area with a special sonar cell phone, to plan the extraction. Batman gets in, grabs Lau, and gets out in the coolest possible way.
They take advantage of a CIA program called Skyhook, which it turns out is A REAL FUCKING THING! At first I thought it was made up for the movie.
So they got Lau, and are ready to get him to testify. He makes a deal: immunity and a trip back to China. In exchange, he’ll give them the entire mob. Which is easy under the RICO act, since they agreed to pool their money.
So let’s go back to The Joker. He kills Gamble after taunting him for a few minutes. Then the remaining mobsters decide to hire The Joker, after Lau is taken in.
At this point, the entire mob is arrested, based on Lau’s testimony. Five hundred defendants at once. It’s a hell of a show, and more of a comedy routine. You ever see the film, Find me Guilty? Yeah, well, that was pretty conservative in comparison.
But The Joker wasn’t arrested. In fact, he’s just getting started. He kills one of the copybats, and hangs his body outside city hall. I’m surprised no one saw him do that! Did it just spontaneously appear? After that very public spectacle, he announces his demands that Batman go public, or he’ll kill someone every single day.
They quickly find out who The Joker’s next targets are: the Judge who’s trying the entire mob, Police Commissioner Loeb, and Harvey Dent. The first two are taken out pretty quickly. But Dent, on the other hand, happens to be at a fundraiser organized by Bruce Wayne. The Joker infiltrates the event and Wayne quickly hides Dent, for his own safety, and gets in the Batsuit to kick some ass.
After the fight, he ends up back at the BatWellLitRoom, trying to figure out what drives this Joker. Alfred tells a story about a thief in Burma, who was throwing his spoils away. So why did he steal? Because it was fun. He wasn’t after money, he was just bored, so he robbed people.
We then get word of The Joker’s next target: The Mayor. He makes the threat in the form of an obituary in tomorrow’s newspaper. Wait… how does that work? Is it a fake paper with tomorrow’s date? Or did he get one of his minions to sneak into the printing press? Still, tomorrow’s paper wouldn’t come out till tomorrow. How did he get this out!? I’m so confused.
Meanwhile, an employee at Wayne Enterprises, Mr. Reese, notices that the Applied Sciences division, also known as Batman’s armoury, just up and disappeared a few years back. He found some old blueprints from that department, and one just happens to feature our favourite black tank. He also mentions a project in the R&D department, likely related.
He asks Morgan Freeman for ten million dollars a year for the rest of his life. Greedy fuck. But Freeman points out exactly who he thinks he’s trying to blackmail. Reese walks out.
Freeman asks Bruce about the R&D thing. Apparently he knew nothing about it. Curious.
So given the recent threat to the mayor, Batman quickly moves. He takes a fingerprint off a shattered bullet (seriously!?) and it leads him to an apartment overlooking the parade route for Commissioner Loeb’s memorial service. There he finds several men tied up. He questions them, and learns that they’re police officers. Back on the ground, the 21 gun salute is executed, and on the third salvo, all of the men turn their guns to the mayor. But Gordon, ever the smart one, tackles the mayor to the ground.
Turns out The Joker infiltrated the colour guard, along with six of his minions. Obviously. Chaos ensues, and one of The Joker’s lackies gets shot. Dent goes to question him, and notices the man’s name tag: Rachel Dawes.
Emotional and irrational, he steals the Ambulance, and drives off.
By the way, when Gordon tackled the mayor, he got shot himself. Gordon’s gone. Dead. Shit. Kinda hard to believe really.
The cops in Gordon’s unit try to summon Batman with the Batsignal. Probably unaware he hates crowds. But he’s too busy anyway, beating up meat-heads in a crowded nightclub. So much for subtlety. It’s also where Maroni happens to be. He drops the mobster from three or four stories up, likely breaking one or both of his ankles. Batman wants The Joker, but Maroni explains he doesn’t know how to find him, since The Joker always went to them. The only way out is to go public.
Meanwhile, we go back to Dent. He isn’t trusting anyone right now, especially not the people in Gordon’s unit. He calls Rachel and explains himself. Rachel suggests she stay at Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. It’s likely the safest place in town. Dent hangs up and starts to interrogate the lackie who was shot earlier, holding a gun to the man’s head. Okay, he doesn’t really interrogate, since he doesn’t ask any questions at first. He just terrorizes the poor guy. But of course Dent wouldn’t kill anyone, and the man knows that. So he takes out his father’s lucky coin, and gives it a toss to determine the man’s fate.
Batman catches it in the air, then arrives on the scene. That’s the power of the Batman, his actions take place before he even shows up.
Anyway, Batman gives Dent a bollocking for leaving a man’s life to chance. Dent says he’s not. He explains the man’s a paranoid schizophrenic, so there’s not much they can learn from him anyway. He also says that Dent is the city’s best chance for hope. While Batman is beating up punks on the streets, Dent is putting them away for life legitimately in a court of law. If the people saw what he was doing, it would ruin everything. Batman then says he’s going to turn himself in the next day. Dent and later Rachel, try to talk him out of it. But he refuses.
Then Alfred tries to talk him out of it. But here, Bruce explains why. The guilt is too much for him to handle. Plus, people are trying to hang him for it. But Alfred explains that the whole point of Batman is to be the outcast. To be hated. To do what needs to be done, despite the repercussions.
The next day, at a press conference, Dent explains that while Batman has agreed to turn himself in, he doesn’t think he should. They’d just be giving in to the demands of a terrorist. But the people attending the conference, who I assume are not actual members of the press, because actual members of the press would not act like that, start to object.
So Dent decides to give in and comes forward as Batman.
In case you’re failing to keep track, he’s not Batman.
Rachel is not too happy about this. She gives Alfred an unsealed letter for Bruce, to give to him at the right time.
Suddenly, Dent’s being transferred from the Major Crime Unit, to Central Holding. The perfect opportunity for The Joker to strike, and Batman to take him down.
Rachel tries to talk him out of it, but of course Dent’s just as stubborn as Batman. He throws his lucky coin to her, saying “heads, I go through with it.” She examines the coin. Both sides are heads. Cool. No wonder it’s lucky.
The convoy proceeds down the streets of Gotham, with orders not to stop. There’s a block in the road, and the convoy is forced to detour onto the lower streets.
They are then attacked by two transport trailers, and the SWAT car, full of police officers, is thrown into the river. I hope they got out. From one of the transports, The Joker fires an RPG at the paddy wagon holding Dent.
Batman shows up in the Batmobile. Takes out one truck, and uses the tank’s rampless jump feature to take a missile for Dent.
The damage to the Batmobile is catastrophic. So Bruce activates the eject sequence, and the two front wheels, plus the driver’s seat, pop out and convert into a kick-ass motorcycle. As he speeds away, the self-destruct initiates.
Ladies and gentlemen: The Batpod! It’s not simply a motorcycle, for one, both wheels are on individual roll axles, and the centre appears to be on a gyroscope, keeping it from tipping. It’s nearly impossible to wipe out on this thing.
I’ll just come right out and say it: The Batpod is the coolest vehicle I have ever seen in a movie.
The cops call for air support, and they get it, but a couple strategically placed minions shoot cables across two buildings. The chopper gets caught in the cables, and crashes.
Batman finally catches up with the paddy wagon as The Joker is driving the transport trailer, trying to catch up with Dent. So Bruce thinks fast. He shoots two cables into the front of the transport, and ties them around a series of lampposts. The rear of the truck flips upwards and lands upside down in one of the film’s most iconic, and most amazing scenes.
At this point, the driver of the wagon stops the car and gets out. Batman heads straight for The Joker, but steers around at the last second and crashes, even though the Batpod is designed specifically so that doesn’t happen.
The Joker approaches the unconscious crimefighter, and is about to unmask him when a gun is held to the back of his neck. The gunman spins him around, and it just so happens to be the one, the only, James Gordon. I knew it was hard to believe.
Turns out he faked his death. I don’t see how, but whatever.
Gordon returns the conquering hero. He caught The Joker, and saved the lives of Dent and Batman. So, since there’s a vacancy for the department’s top spot, the mayor promotes Gordon to the rank of Commissioner. This is the Gordon we all know, and love. The leader. The Commissioner.
But it’s not all good. They can’t identify The Joker. No DNA, no dental records, no fingerprints, nothing. He has no name and no other aliases.
Gordon returns home. But can’t stay long. Harvey never made it home. He returns to the MCU, to interrogate The Joker in a darkened room.
But of course, The Joker isn’t very forthcoming. So Gordon steps out, the lights come on, and Batman slams The Joker’s head on a table. We then get the film’s fantastic interrogation scene. I love this scene.
Okay, that’s not exactly what happens, but it’s close enough.
We learn a lot about The Joker here. He already knows that killing Batman wouldn’t solve anything, despite what he told the mob. In fact his encounters with Batman are too much fun to give up.
Ever see Unbreakable? Bruce Willis plays a superhero who’s a bit like Superman, and Samuel L. Jackson helps him discover who he really is, acting as his mentor. But at the end of the film we learn that Samuel L. Jackson is actually Willis’ arch-nemesis, a villain who calls himself Mr. Glass. He explains that the existence of the hero makes his life complete, whole, and it gives him a purpose. The Joker gives the exact same reasoning.
He also explains that while Batman is being accepted by the police right now, they still consider him a freak, and are only helping him because they need him. Eventually, they’ll turn on him. Kinda makes me think of of the second season finale of Sherlock.
But the big thing to remember is this: The way The Joker sees the world, all the people of Gotham will eventually turn on each other given the right circumstances.
But then, the chips come down. The Joker explains that Dent isn’t the only one who’s missing. He also had Rachel kidnapped. The Joker gives Batman the locations of both abductees, and says there’s very little time. He’ll only be able to save one. Batman speeds off to rescue Rachel, as Gordon goes after Dent.
Both Dent and Rachel are strapped to oil drums, and are connected to each other through a speakerphone. They realize that the rescue is likely going to come for Rachel, so Harvey tries to find a way out, as he tells Rachel that everything is going to be okay. He knocks over one of the drums, and gets the left half of his face covered in oil. The left, eh?
Rachel then tells Harvey that she accepts the marriage proposal he made before the film began.
Then Batman arrives to rescue Rachel, and finds Harvey instead. Oh… well, that’s interesting. He grabs Dent and runs out. The bombs go off, killing Rachel. Batman and Harvey made it out of the building, but are caught in the tips of the flames. The oil that soaked half of Harvey’s face is ignited. Burning the flesh.
I’m actually a bit surprised. One would think Batman would have been able to smother the flames rather quickly.
Meanwhile, back at the MCU, The Joker stages a jail break. He starts demanding his one phone call, (that’s a myth by the way, you’re not actually entitled to anything except a lawyer). He taunts a cop into beating him, quickly turns the tables, and gets his phone call. Meanwhile, one of his minions is already in the MCU, in one of the jail cells, and he’s complaining of stomach pains. The guy collapses from the pain, and suddenly, as the cops are inspecting the man’s abdomen, a ringing comes from him. The Joker put a bomb in the guy, and uses it to stage his escape. Clever huh? He grabs Lau and makes a run for it.
We then discover what Rachel wrote to Bruce. A letter explaining that she was going to marry Harvey. While she did mean it when she said, in the first film, that they could be together once Batman retired, she was now certain that might never happen. While she could be wrong, and she would be there if he ever retired, it would only be as his friend.
I don’t blame her, she couldn’t wait forever.
Alfred is about to give Bruce the letter, but changes his mind once he learns that Bruce was holding onto the hope that they would be together again. Then, he burns it. Prick.
Harvey wakes up at the hospital. Half his face covered in gauze. He then sees his lucky coin sitting on the table after Batman dropped it off. He notices one face is damaged from the explosion. Rachel last held it. He rips the gauze off in anguish.
We then learn that Dent’s in severe pain but isn’t taking any medication. He’s also refusing skin grafts to treat the burns.
You know, I recently had hand surgery, and was in excruciating pain for about an hour when I lapsed on my pain pills. I could barely move or think. So I find it hard to believe that he would be able to do anything if he wasn’t on some type of pain-killer. It would have been easier to believe if they said the burns also killed the pain receptors. Or the doctors accidentally severed them. That’s what they did for Darkman.
Gordon arrives to talk to Dent, and tries to determine the identities of the cops that were transporting him and Rachel, and were likely responsible for what happened to them.
But Dent refuses to help, obviously too wrapped in grief. He also blames Gordon for everything. Since Dent warned him about the dirty cops in his unit.
He asks Gordon about the secret nickname the MCU had for him. It’s Two-Face.
I’ve said before that Two-Face is my favourite villain, and he still is. The design alone is very striking, but a bit surreal. Actually, it kinda looks like makeup. It’s hard to rationalize the idea that that’s one face we’re seeing.
You’ll notice the man’s flesh is burnt away. The tendons in his cheeks, and his jawbone are clearly visible. He’s also missing his left eyelid. There’s a good chance that’s going to get infected. I imagine if we see more of him, it’ll come to a point where he sees a doctor to close up some of the wounds, while trying to maintain his striking image. Likely a mob doctor.
The one complaint I have about this design is the fact that half of his lips are gone, which one would think would result in some type of speech impediment.
As Gordon leaves Dent’s hospital room, he’s approached by Maroni, who is willing to give The Joker up. Apparently they were supposed to meet. But I’m not sure what suddenly gave him the change of heart.
So The Joker meets only one of the remaining mobsters in some abandoned warehouse, where we see Lau sitting atop a giant stack of money.
The man is impressed. He asks what The Joker is going to do with his half of the funds. The Joker ends up burning it, with Lau still atop.
He’s confused, and The Joker chews him out. All he cares about is money, how sad. So Joker explains that it’s about time he gave Gotham ‘a better class of criminal.’
As he gets his minions to kill the mobster, The Joker calls the local television station where Mr. Reese, the man who tried to blackmail Batman earlier in the film, is about to reveal Batman’s identity. He stops the man, and says if someone doesn’t kill Reese in the next hour, he’s gonna blow up a hospital. How many citizens in Gotham do you think have family or someone they care about in a hospital?
Several people start to make attempts on Reese’s life as Gordon tries to get the man to safety. Bruce even stops one of the crazies from crashing his truck into the van holding Reese. Feigning ignorance over the situation as he talks to Gordon. Even asking if he should go to the hospital. Clever… I think.
Meanwhile, as Gotham General is being evacuated, The Joker uses the chaos to enter Dent’s hospital room and have a little chat with him. He tries to explain that he didn’t plan their abduction. He doesn’t plan anything. Well, I doubt that. But, you see, according to this Joker, he’s an agent of chaos. His goals don’t involve money, he just wants to drive everything down the shitter. Apparently it’s how he gets off.
His little speech inspires Dent. As The Joker gives him a gun, Dent holds it to the man’s head, and flips his lucky coin. Heads he lives, scarred heads, he dies. The Joker walks out as Two-Face is born.
We can assume Two-Face already left as The Joker blows up the hospital. He annexes a bus of evacuees as the building blows up.
The police notice the bus missing, they also notice Harvey’s nowhere to be seen.
The Joker sends a video to the media, featuring one of his hostages, a local TV journalist, reading from a script. He explains that anyone left in the city will be playing by his rules, and hinting that the tunnels and bridges are booby-trapped.
As Morgan Freeman is watching this. He’s told there’s a break in at R&D. He goes to check it out and spots the device that was being built. You know the sonar cell phone from the Hong Kong mission? Well, turns out Bruce applied it to every cell phone in the city. He can map out all of Gotham in real-time. Of course Freeman objects. It also doesn’t help that Batman set it up so only Freeman can access it.
The plan is to use the machine to find The Joker. Freeman tells Batman he’ll help him do that, but will resign as long as the device remains at Wayne Enterprises.
Meanwhile, Gordon is planning an evacuation of Gotham. Since the tunnels and bridges are out of the question, only the ferries are available. He fills one with criminals, since The Joker might have plans for them, and the other with civilians.
On their way across the river, both boats stall. The crews discover barrels full of explosives, and a detonator. The Joker comes on the radio and explains that each detonator is set to blow the other boat. One of them has to blow up the other. If they wait until midnight, The Joker will blow them both up.
As The Joker’s making his speech, Freeman finds him in a tall, and apparently unfinished building.
Batman calls Gordon and tells him to meet him there. They find the building contains hostages and are guarded by clowns who are standing there, unprotected. Like a shooting gallery, as if they’re asking to get shot. Your first clue that something is wrong.
Of course the Caped Crusader can smell the fish, and tells Gordon to give him five minutes to check the scene first. But Gordon mentions the urgency of the situation, saying that the longer they wait, the more likely one of those boats will blow up. But Batman’s not worried about that.
This I find quite interesting. Batman is absolutely certain that no one is willing to end hundreds of lives to save their own. Batman has a lot of faith in these citizens. A lot of faith considering all the criminals he has encountered. A lot of faith considering that half those citizens are hardened criminals he helped put away. I don’t know if I could agree.
Batman quickly dives into the building and takes out one of the clowns. Then, he quickly realizes what was so fishy. Ripping off the mask of the clown before him, he notices his mouth is duck-taped closed. The clowns are the hostages, and the guns are taped to their hands and likely empty. Sadly, the SWAT team doesn’t know that. Batman has to take down the gangsters, while stopping the cops from killing the hostages.
So while all this is happening the people on the boats are discussing the situation. The civilians decide to vote on their decision, and decide to blow up the prisoners, but no one can get themselves to actually pull the trigger. Meanwhile on the other boat, a large black prisoner named Ginty approaches the warden, and asks for the detonator. He reasons that the prisoners will kill him and take it anyway if he doesn’t. The warden hands it over, and Ginty does what the warden should have done ten minutes earlier. He throws it out the window.
This is the film’s greatest scene my friends. A hardened criminal is suddenly willing to sacrifice his own life to save hundreds.
Turns out, Batman was right.
But you know, I do think it was irresponsible for the warden to give up the detonator. True Ginty didn’t want to kill anyone, but the warden didn’t know that. In fact, he should have presumed that. But he didn’t so everything turned out right… right?
Well, my point is, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the warden was later brought up on disciplinary charges. And maybe even criminal charges.
Back at the building, Batman makes it up to face The Joker, and a fight scene ensues. But it ends with The Joker getting the upper hand, then feeling quite disappointed that neither of the ferries are blowing up. The clock ticks past midnight, and The Joker pulls out his own detonator. But Batman launches a set of shurikens from his gauntlets right into The Joker’s face, and throws him off the building. But Batman has a code. He launches his grapple gun at The Joker’s feet and pulls him back up.
Then The Joker reveals what he did to Harvey Dent, saying that the city’s last hope has fallen, and as Batman explained earlier, that’s all that is needed to bring the entire city down.
You see, as all this is happening, Two-Face starts going after those responsible for Rachel’s death, and his disfigurement. He starts by confronting the cop who abducted him. The coin lands scarred side up, and he shoots the man point-blank. But not before he’s led to Maroni.
He ambushes Maroni in the mobster’s car, and demands to know who abducted Rachel. After a bit of back and forth, Maroni reveals it was one of Gordon’s most trusted officers: Ramirez.
You know what I noticed. Maroni was probably the only mob boss who didn’t deserve to die. He was hesitant to hire The Joker to begin with, and he led the cops to The Joker later on. Also, he survived Two-Face’s coin toss. Unfortunately, his driver didn’t, and the crash kills him… we presume.
Two-Face tracks down Ramirez and holds her at gunpoint. Ramirez calls Gordon’s wife, tells her to pack up the kids and meet up with Gordon at a specific location. She survives the coin toss and is pistol whipped instead.
After this, Gordon gets a call from his family. Two-Face interrupts them and tells Gordon to meet them where Rachel died.
He arrives at the blown out warehouse, and is knocked down by Two-Face. The villain wants his revenge, but simply killing them isn’t going to fix anything.
He holds Gordon’s son at gunpoint, as Batman finally arrives on the scene. The Caped Crusader tries to talk Two-Face down. But unfortunately, his reasoning is pretty sound.
“The world is cruel. The only morality in a cruel world, is chance, unbiased, unprejudiced, fair. His son’s got the same chance she had: 50-50.” – Two-Face
I actually feel sorry for Two-Face. He lost everything. His fiancée and his handsomeness. I’d turn evil too. Though I still love his new look.
But as Batman talks, all he manages to do is add himself, and Dent to Two-Face’s target list.
Two-Face flips the coin, and ignores it so he can shoot Batman anyway. So much for chance. He survives his own toss, and holds the gun to the child’s head. He tells Gordon to lie to his son and tell him everything’ll be alright, just like he did. Gordon complies, and Two-Face makes the toss.
But we never see the result as he is tackled off the building… or possibly a pier, by Batman. I guess you might have forgotten the Batsuit is bulletproof.
Two-Face falls to his death, and Batman holds on to a beam, with Gordon’s son in his other arm. As the Commissioner pulls his son up, Batman lets go, but he survives.
The two discuss the situation. The city’s spirit will die with Harvey’s reputation. Batman says that can’t happen. But after he killed so many, it’s impossible to cover that up.
The solution is clear. Batman decides to take the fall for Dent’s crimes. So the city knows him as a noble, honest man who tried to take down the mob. Not as Two-Face.
Batman doesn’t really need to be seen as noble. He can be the outcast, he can be the one everyone hates. As Alfred suggested when Bruce wanted to come clean.
This saddens me. Not simply because it means Batman has to retire, but because it means Two-Face dies.
That’s the one part I don’t like about this film: Two-Face’s short tenure. From his origin to his death, we got 30 minutes, and that’s including all the scenes that don’t involve him. He’s a much more interesting villain than The Joker if you ask me, but a little more mysterious.
Of course, such a short tenure for such a great villain seems pretty unusual. There must be a reason right? Well, there is. Apparently Heath Ledger’s death modified the script. The next film would have featured Two-Face going on a rampage as The Joker stood trial. But fucking Heath Ledger had to die and ruin everything, that selfish prick! I mean sure, he suffered too. After all, I hear death kinda sucks. But he shouldn’t have overdosed on those drugs like that. Irresponsible prick. We all had to suffer because of one asshole’s irresponsible behaviour. Fuck this.
Overall the entire film feels much more polished, much more interesting, and much more exciting than the last one. While I really liked Batman Begins, this film is much better. Better characters, better story, better action, better atmosphere. It’s the full package. If only this carried over to the sequel.
The film closes with Morgan Freeman destroying the sonar spy machine, and Batman going on the run, intercut with flashforwards of Gordon eulogizing Dent, and destroying the Batsignal, as he explains to his son why Batman is running, why he can take the fall. Because he’s The Dark Knight.
Finally! A title!
Next time, we finish up The Dark Knight Trilogy.