Two-Face is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 (August 1942), and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Once Harvey Dent, District Attorney of Gotham City and an ally of Batman, after a criminal disfigures half of his face with acid, Dent goes insane and becomes the crime boss Two-Face, who chooses to do either good or evil depending upon the results of flipping a coin. Originally, Two-Face was one of many gimmick-focused comic book villains, plotting crimes based around the number two, such as robbing Gotham Second National Bank at 2:00 on February 2. Creator Bob Kane was inspired by a movie poster advertising the Spencer Tracy film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and conceived the idea of a villain with a dual personality. In later years, writers have portrayed his obsession with duality and fate as the result of bipolar and multiple personality disorders as well as a history of child abuse. He obsessively makes all important decisions by flipping a two-headed coin, one side of which is scratched over with an X.
The character has appeared in multiple Batman media forms, including video games, Batman: The Animated Series, and the Batman film series. Billy Dee Williams portrayed Harvey Dent in Batman, while Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Two-Face in Batman Forever and Aaron Eckhart played Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight.
The character only made three appearances in the 1940s, and appeared twice in the 1950s (not counting the impostors mentioned below). By this time, he was dropped in favor of more "kid friendly" villains, though he did appear in a 1968 issue (World's Finest Comics #173), in which Batman declared him to be the criminal he most fears. In 1971, writer Dennis O'Neil brought Two-Face back, and it was then that he became one of Batman's arch-enemies.
In the wake of Frank Miller's 1987 revision of Batman's origin (see Batman: Year One), Andrew Helfer rewrote Two-Face's history to match. This origin, presented in Batman Annual #14, served to emphasize Dent's status as a tragic character, with a back story that included an abusive, alcoholic father, and early struggles with bipolar disorder and paranoia. It was also established, in Batman: Year One, that pre-accident Harvey was a major heroic figure working as one of Batman's earliest allies. Harvey had clear ties to both Batman and Commissioner Gordon, making him an unsettling and personal foe for both men.
During the same period, Two-Face is revealed to have murdered Jason Todd's father, who had been one of his henchmen. Todd later has Two-Face at his mercy and chooses not to kill him, embracing Batman's ideal of justice. This storyline has been mirrored in other media, with other Robins taking Todd's place: in the animated series of the late 1990s with Tim Drake substituting for Todd and in the 1995 film Batman Forever, with Dick Grayson as a substitute.
In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, writer Grant Morrison portrays Harvey's dependence on his coin. The doctors in the asylum attempt to wean him off his evil personality by taking away his coin and replacing it with a die and eventually a tarot deck, effectively giving him 78 options. The treatment fails, however; with so many options, Harvey can't even make simple decisions. At the end of the graphic novel, Batman gives Harvey his coin back, telling him to use it to decide whether to kill him. He tells Batman that the coin landed scar face down, and Batman leaves safely, but the next scene shows the scar face up, meaning that he inexplicably chose to let Batman live. In the hardcover edition, Morrison said this was because it was April Fool's Day.
Throughout the history of the Batman franchise, attempts have been made to repair his facial scars but they have not yet cured his insanity; he simply destroys the one side of his face and becomes Two-Face once again. In Frank Miller's revival of Batman, The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne himself funds Harvey's rehabilitation, however, Harvey soon returns to crime and Batman must once again stop him from destroying Gotham.
During the aftermath of the earthquake that leaves Gotham City in shambles, Two-Face carves out a sizable portion of the ruined city for himself. He takes up residence in Gotham City Hall, maintaining a relatively sophisticated lifestyle. His empire is eventually brought down by Bane, who, in the employ of Lex Luthor, devastates Two-Face's gang during his destruction of the city's Hall of Records. Two-Face kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and puts him on trial for his activities after Gotham City was declared a No Man's Land, with Two-Face as both judge and prosecutor. Gordon plays upon Two-Face's split psyche to demand Harvey Dent as his defense attorney. Harvey cross-examines Two-Face and wins an acquittal for Gordon, determining that Two-Face has effectively blackmailed Gordon by implying that he had committed murders to aid the Commissioner.
During No Man's Land, Two-Face meets detective Renee Montoya. Montoya reaches the Dent persona in Two-Face, and is kind to him. He falls in love with her, though the romance is one-sided. Later, in the Gotham Central series, he outs her as a lesbian and frames her for murder, hoping that if he takes everything from her, she will be left with no choice but to be with him. She is furious, and the two fight for control of his gun until Batman intervenes, putting Two-Face back in Arkham.
In the Two-Face one-shot book, Two-Face leads a crusade against Gotham City, culminating in the capturing of his own father to humiliate and kill on live television for the years of abuse he suffered. This story reveals that, despite his apparent hatred for his father, Dent still supports him, paying for an expensive home rather than allowing him to live in a slum. At the end of the book, Harvey and Two-Face argue in thought, Two-Face calling Harvey "spineless." Dent proves Two-Face wrong, however, choosing to jump off a building and end his life just to put a stop to his alter ego's crime spree. Two-Face is surprised when the coin flip comes up scarred, but abides by the decision and jumps. Batman catches Harvey, but the shock of the fall seems to (at least temporarily) destroy the Two-Face side of his psyche.
In Two-Face Strikes Twice, Two-Face is at odds with his ex-wife Gilda, as he believes their marriage failed because he was unable to give her children. She later marries Paul Janus, a reference to the Roman god of doors who had two faces, one facing forward, the other backward. Two-Face attempts to frame Janus as a criminal by kidnapping him and replacing him with a stand-in, whom Two-Face "disfigures" with makeup to make it look as if Janus has gone insane just as Two-Face had. Two-Face is eventually caught by Batman and sent away, and Gilda and Janus reunite. Years later, Gilda gives birth to twins, prompting Two-Face to escape once more and take the twins hostage, as he erroneously believes them to be conceived by Janus using an experimental fertility drug. The end of the book reveals a surprise twist; Batman learns from Gilda that Janus is not the father of Gilda's twins - Harvey is. Some of his sperm had been frozen after a death threat had been made against him, and she used some of it to get pregnant. Batman uses this information to convince Dent to free the twins and turn himself in.
In the storyline Batman: Hush, Harvey's face is repaired once more via plastic surgery. This time around, only the Harvey Dent persona exists. However, he takes the law into his own hands twice: once by using his ability to manipulate the legal system to free the Joker, and then again by shooting the serial killer Hush. He manipulates the courts into setting him free, as Gotham's prosecutors wouldn't attempt to charge him without a body.
In the Batman story arc Batman: Face the Face, that started in Detective Comics #817, and was part of DC's One Year Later storyline, it is revealed that, at Batman's request and with his training, Harvey becomes a vigilante protector of Gotham City in most of Batman's absence of nearly a year. He is reluctant to take the job, but Batman assures him doing good would serve as atonement for his past crimes. After a month of training, they fight Firebug and Mr. Freeze, before Batman leaves for a year. Soon, Harvey finds himself enjoying his new role, but his methods are seemingly more extreme and less refined than Batman's. Upon Batman's return, Harvey begins to feel unnecessary and unappreciated, which prompted the return of the "Two-Face" persona (seen and heard by Dent through hallucinations). In Face the Face, his frustration are compounded by a series of mysterious killings that seem to have been committed by Two-Face; the villains KGBeast, Magpie, The Ventriloquist, and Orca are all shot twice in the head with a double-barreled pistol, implying that Harvey was the perpetrator. When Batman confronts Harvey about these deaths, asking Harvey to confirm that he was not responsible, Harvey refuses to give a definite answer. He then detonates a bomb in his apartment and leaves Batman dazed as he flees.
Despite escaping the explosion physically unscathed to a motel, Harvey suffers a crisis of conscience and a mental battle with his "Two-Face" personality. Although evidence is later uncovered by Batman that exonerates Harvey Dent for the murders, it is too late to do anything to save him. Prompted by resentment and a paranoid reaction to Batman's questioning, Harvey scars half his face with nitric acid and a scalpel, becoming Two-Face once again. Blaming Batman for his return, Two-Face immediately goes on a rampage, threatening to destroy the Gotham Zoo (having retained two of every animal - including two humans) before escaping to fight Batman another day.
Paul Sloane becomes the second Two-Face. An actor who was set to star in a biography of Harvey Dent, Sloane is disfigured by an accident on the set in a manner similar to Harvey Dent. Sloane's mind snaps, and he begins to think he is Harvey. Sloane recovers enough of his own personality but continues to remain as the criminal Two-Face. Sloane is reused in later Earth-Two specific stories as Two-Face II of Earth-Two where the original Earth-Two Two-Face Harvey remained healed (Superman Family #211). Sloane is revived in the current continuity as a successor Two-Face (Detective Comics #777), though not replacing Dent as done in the earlier Earth-Two specific storyline.
The third Two-Face is another impostor, a petty criminal named George Blake, who like Wilkins is not actually disfigured but is wearing make-up. Furthermore, his makeup is worn on the opposite side of his face to Dent/Sloane.
Also noteworthy is a 1968 story where Batman himself is temporarily turned into Two-Face via a potion (World's Finest #173).
Aside from a 1962 reprint of the Sloane storyline, this was the character's only appearance in the 1960s.
Another Two-Face appears in the Batman Sunday strips. Actor Harvey Apollo is scarred with acid when testifying against a mobster in court, and becomes a criminal. He only makes a few appearances before accidentally hanging himself after slipping on the silver dollar piece he uses as Two-Face.
As mentioned above, Harvey Dent does return as Two-Face in the 1970s. With the establishment of the DC Comics multiverse, however, the Two-Face of Earth-Two (i.e. the character seen in the original Golden Age stories) is said to be Harvey Kent, who had not relapsed following his cure. The last appearance of this version of Two-Face was in Superman Family #211 (October 1981), depicting him as a guest at the marriage of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). He meets Lois Lane and Clark Kent, and his shared name with the latter creates confusion.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths event the Paul Sloane character, with a near identical history to the pre-crisis version, appears in Detective Comics #580 and #581. In Double Image Harvey Dent (as Two-Face) employs Doctor Thorne (the Crime Doctor) to re-disfigure Sloane. Dent does this out of jealous bitterness and the hope that Sloane would commit crimes based on the number two - thus confusing Batman. At the end of the story Sloane is once again healed - physically and mentally.
Paul Sloane is introduced into post-Zero Hour continuity as a criminal called "The Charlatan" in Detective Comics #777 (February 2003). In this incarnation, the actor had been hired by Gotham's costumed criminals to take Two-Face's place in a scheme to kill Batman, Harvey's coin having come up unscarred. When the real Two-Face learns about this, he captures Sloan and disfigures the left side of his face. The Scarecrow then experiments on him with fear toxins. Driven insane, The Charlatan becomes obsessed with both getting revenge on the criminals who hired him and completing his mission to kill Batman.
When he first appears in Detective Comics #66, the character's name is Harvey Kent, but in later stories his name is changed to Harvey Dent to prevent confusion with Clark Kent. However, the original name is made reference to in the "Prodigal" storyline, where Harvey Dent walks due to a clerical error which causes him to be confused with a similarly named Harvey Kent. At 26, he is the youngest district attorney ever to serve Gotham City, and is nicknamed "Apollo" for his good looks. He is elected about six months before Batman begins his war on crime, as depicted in the events of Batman: Year One.
His campaign against crime ends tragically during the prosecution of crime boss Sal "Boss" Maroni for murder. At a climactic moment in the trial, Harvey produces Maroni's good luck charm, a two-headed coin, which had been found at the murder scene with Maroni's fresh fingerprints upon it. Enraged, Maroni throws sulfuric acid in Harvey's face, horribly scarring his left hand and the left half of his face while leaving the other half undamaged; in some versions of the story, Harvey is only saved from a face-full of acid by Batman's quick, but only partial, deflection of Maroni's hand. Driven insane by his hideous reflection, Harvey scars one side of Maroni's coin and lets tosses of the coin decide whether he acts for good or evil in any situation.
Batman Annual #14, elaborates on these events, with some changes. In it, Dent, Captain (later Commissioner) James Gordon, and Batman forge an alliance to rid Gotham of crime (large elements of this story were later co-opted for the limited series Batman: The Long Halloween, and to a lesser extent in the 2008 film The Dark Knight). Mafia chieftain Sal "The Boss" Maroni is still the criminal who disfigures Harvey with help from the corrupt Assistant District Attorney Adrian Fields (though in The Long Halloween, his name changed to Vernon Fields). Fields provides Maroni with the acid, concealed in an antacid bottle. Two-Face gets his trademark coin from his abusive father, who would employ the coin in a perverse nightly "game" that would always end with Harvey being beaten. This would instill in Harvey his lifelong struggle with free will and his eventual inability to make choices on his own.
Gilda Dent, who had been Dent's fiancée back in Detective Comics #66 and 68 (1942), is instead his wife in "Eye of the Beholder," and therefore subsequently, The Long Halloween (1998). In the former, he escapes from the hospital and confronts Fields, who tries to plea bargain with Dent by offering a massive file of criminal funds, hideouts, and connections for his old boss to begin his "new life." When Batman interrupts them, Two-Face kills Fields and then, losing the coin toss, confronts his father and forces him to play the game they used to play. The coin comes up clean, so he spares his father, and is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, where he receives an experimental plastic surgery. However, in a fit of madness, he claws his face open with his bare hands.
In The Long Halloween, Harvey escapes from the hospital and hides out in the sewers for weeks, finally resurfacing as Two-Face to take revenge on the mob, killing Vernon Field and mob boss Carmine Falcone (Maroni has already been assassinated by this point by Falcone's son Alberto). By the end, Two-Face is incarcerated in Arkham.
In Batman Forever (1995) Tommy Lee Jones portrays Two-Face alongside Jim Carrey's Riddler and opposite Val Kilmer's Batman. "Harvey Two-Face" plays up the "two" gimmick to the point where Two-Face even refers to himself in the plural. In the film, Two-Face (instead of Tony Zucco, as in the original comics) is responsible for the origin of Robin when he kills Dick Grayson's (Chris O'Donnell) family. Also, Lee's Two-Face repeatedy flips his coin until he gets the decision he wants.
Aaron Eckhart portrays Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight (2008), the sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins. In the film, Harvey Dent plays more of a tragic hero role than a full-fledged villain as he is commonly portrayed in the comics. Harvey is first elected to become Gotham City's district attorney and tries to rebuild Gotham's image for the better, only to have his life destroyed by the Joker and the mob. Upon escape from a building rigged to explode by the Joker, half of Harvey's gasoline-doused face catches on fire and is severely disfigured. His trademark coin is created when his double-headed 1922 Peace Dollar is burnt on one side in an identical explosion that killed his fiancée, Rachel Dawes. Afterward, Harvey takes the nickname the cops had given him when he was in the GCPD's Internal Affairs division - "Two-Face" - and sets out to make things "fair" by confronting the mobsters and crooked police officers who helped ruin his life, deciding whether or not to kill each one by flipping his coin. Director Christopher Nolan explained that the movie's portrayal of the character was meant to emphasize both the differences and parallels between Two-Face and Batman. Aaron Eckhart has expressed his enthusiasm that he would reprise his role for a sequel if asked, although he later confirmed that, in talks with Nolan before Heath Ledger's death, the director currently considers Two-Face to be dead.