Last week we dissected the Two-Face Meets the Riddler scene in Batman Forever, and this week we’re going to revisit that scene and add a little twist. Have you ever noticed that this scene mirrors the one in The Dark Knight in which Two-Face meets the Joker? Take a look at them back to back and you’ll start to see some interesting similarities.
Let’s first go through the similarities between these scenes:
- The Riddler and the Joker are able to sneak up on Two-Face and surprise him.
- Two-Face immediately attacks Riddler upon seeing him, and he attempts to attack Joker upon seeing him, although he is restrained. He later tries to grab Joker as soon as his restraints are removed.
- Riddler and Joker are able to convince Two-Face that they are not his enemy, and they get him to do what they want him to do through subtle manipulation.
- Two-Face asserts his control by deciding the fate of Riddler and Joker with a toss of his coin. Both times, it ends with them living.
To be fair, let’s also point out the interesting differences between the two scenes:
- Riddler had no hand in creating Two-Face, so there is no connection between them until Riddler decides it is to his advantage to create one. But Joker’s action directly led to the creation of Two-Face and the murder of the woman he loved, so there is a lot of emotional baggage there.
- Riddler wants to explain his plan to Two-Face in order to sell him on it while Joker wants to convince Two-Face that he has been given too much credit because he actually has no plan.
- The scene in Batman Forever is just of Two-Face and Riddler interacting with each other while The Dark Knight intercuts the scene of Two-Face and Joker meeting with Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon attempting to save the life of Mr. Reese. Hey, I guess Riddler sort of makes an appearance in that scene, too!
Now we come to the title of this article: Why is Two-Face so easy to manipulate? In both of these films, he is essentially a useful tool to help make the main villain’s plan possible. Riddler needs him to steal lots of money in order to take his revenge on Bruce Wayne and take control of Gotham City’s mind. Joker needs him to become a criminal and commit atrocities to break Gotham City’s spirit and turn everyone against Batman.
Two-Face is easy prey for a cleverer villain because of four main reasons. These reasons are made explicit in The Dark Knight and mostly just hinted at in Batman Forever, but they are definitely present in both films.
He Has Nothing to Lose – Harvey Dent was a respectable man with friends, associates, and loved ones. Now he is nothing. He is a shadow of himself. Two-Face has no friends because they have either been killed or they have become his enemies. He has no reputation to defend, no scruples to uphold, and no future to look forward to. When a man has nothing to lose, anyone who can offer him a chance to go out with a bang will have control over him.
He Wants Others to Suffer as He Does – Two-Face is in constant pain. The agony he endures is an ever-present reminder of what he lost. And, ironically, he has a one-track mind that drives him to make sure he is not the only one who suffers. That is his main purpose – to cause suffering and loss until the time when he will finally be put out of his own misery. He doesn’t want to live, and anyone who can grant his wish to die in a way that harms others will feed his fantasy of destruction.
He Seeks Revenge – Two-Face blames Batman and everyone connected to the vigilante for what happened to turn him into a monster. Riddler and Joker figuratively and literally put a weapon into his hands and point him in the direction of the people he really wants to kill. First, he flips a coin to decide the fate of the man who gave him the weapon, and he is robbed of the pleasure of killing him. He’ll have to make do with killing everyone else he hates. He doesn’t care what stands in his way; he will have his revenge one way or another.
He Believes Random Chance Is Fair – Harvey Dent tried to play it straight and always be the best man he could possibly be. He did everything right and had a spotless record devoid of the corruption that infests Gotham City and its public officials. And look at his reward. None of his good choices mattered. He still became a villain. To his broken psyche, the only value left to him is random chance. What happened to him appeared to be totally random, even though he was specifically targeted by his enemies for a reason. But he is done respecting reason or logic. The only judgment he needs is the flip of a coin because that is fair to him. It’s the same chance he had at a normal life, so he will give everyone else that toss up between life or death. Riddler and Joker take advantage of this flaw in his decision-making process. They know that if they can survive his initial fury, they control him. Once he fails to kill Riddler and Joker, they are forever safe from him and he is forced to turn his anger elsewhere. They put their lives into his hands and won, but others weren’t so lucky.
Riddler and Joker were clever enough to see Two-Face for what he really is: A broken man in need of the means to accomplish his purpose. They supply that need like a drug dealer to an addict. In the end, they live and Two-Face dies because that is the way it always ends for someone who is consumed with the desire to die. They simply made him be useful to their own purposes first. There’s no two ways about it.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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