Jonathan Nolan (kind of) confirms the unthinkable

Posted by · 11:46 pm · July 21st, 2008

Aaron Eckhart in The Dark KnightBIG “DARK KNIGHT” SPOILERS ON THE WAY!

You’ve been warned…

I just listened to this interview with “The Dark Knight” screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, conducted by Creative Screenwriting’s Jeff Goldsmith.  In it, Nolan vaguely confirms what I’ve been railing against all weekend: the fact that Harvey Dent is dead at the end of the film.

It’s maybe a third of the way through the interview.  And it’s covered in ambiguity.  But he doesn’t come out and agree with the way Jeff poses the question, per se.

Alright…as I said, I’ve been of the mind that this “death” has been far too weak to hold.  But if indeed it does, let me get this straight.  You kill off — in an entirely ambiguous way — the most important foil dynamic of the franchise aside from the Joker?  This is impotent.  This is foolhardy.  This doesn’t work, and in part, it forces me to completely rethink my view of the film.

I don’t believe it is unnecessary to do away with the character.  I don’t think he needed to have his own free reign as a major villain in some other film.  I’m fine with utilizing Dent as a device to carry across the themes of this film and moving on.  But not in the last 30 fucking minutes of the flick; not cramming one of the most unique and complex Bat villains into a screen time that really pillages the potential.

If…IF……well then, I’ll need to mull that over for a bit.

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

17 responses so far

  • 1 7-22-2008 at 5:54 am

    Madeleine said...

    It is pretty obvious he was killed in the film…and think about it, they didn’t need to keep him alive: because they still had the Joker alive to act as a future continuing foil for the bat. Yes, Two Face’s story was very compressed….but it is also complete.

  • 2 7-22-2008 at 6:59 am

    Ian C. said...

    Kris, like you, I hate the idea that such a character could be disposed of far too soon. Maybe I shouldn’t comment, as I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I still wonder if we’re dealing with the literal vs. figurative here.

    The person known as Harvey Dent, and certainly the ideals he represented, die at the end of the film. But did the physical being, now forever scarred and altered, really die?

  • 3 7-22-2008 at 7:20 am

    Joel said...

    Ian, I don’t think Two-Face died. It’s definite that Harvey Dent is dead, but no, he isn’t really dead. Otherwise I have an idea for the next villain. Didn’t Coleman Reese (the blackmailer who Joker tried to have killed) have attributes similar to the Riddler (obviously, he was obsessed with money, and he wanted to know who Batman is). I think he could be the next big villain.

    Or, they could choose the chilling villain, Ventriloquist and his puppet, Scarface. Hmmm…

  • 4 7-22-2008 at 8:56 am

    Drew said...

    People are fooling themselves thinking Two-Face is still alive. There was zero indication of it. I personally loved that he just had a thirty minute reign of terror. I mean HALF OF HIS FACE WAS BURNED OFF! He couldn’t survive untreated like that for long anyway. Two-Face is the modern equivalent of the Greek tragic figure and guess what happens to tragic figures- THEY DIE!

    I am not saying its bad to criticize a film for its plot, but to change one’s opinion of a movie after realizing it doesn’t give as much screen time for certain character as desired sounds really odd to me. I have a little more respect for Mr. Nolan.

  • 5 7-22-2008 at 9:14 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It shouldn’t sound odd. One view is based on the assumption that a character wasn’t awkwardly aborted, the other is based on the assumption that it was. Each case is drastically different than the other.

    And spare me your call for respect. He’s received plenty from these parts, including having the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t hastily dispose of this character in this manner.

  • 6 7-22-2008 at 9:49 am

    Sean Knight said...

    HARVERY DENT IS DEAD. But notice that they always use the words Harvey Dent. Two Face is still very much alive. They are two different people at this point. Aaron Eckhart is signed on for the third film people. Stop shitting your pants.

  • 7 7-22-2008 at 9:58 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It was circulating early that Eckhart was signed for the third film. But later that was (supposedly) disproven. Bale, Caine and Oldman are the only ones signed for the final installment.

    However, as I said in yesterday’s casting call, that doesn’t mean the early talk of Eckhart being signed for two films came out of thin air. So I’m kind of with you, Sean.

  • 8 7-22-2008 at 9:59 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Make that disproved. I’m a writer. Yay.

  • 9 7-22-2008 at 11:30 am

    Dana said...

    I think the main line that kept things open for Two-Face was (and I am paraphrasing) All hope will die with Harvey Dent’s REPUTATION. I dont think we have seen the last of Two-Face.

  • 10 7-22-2008 at 3:17 pm

    Kyle Leaman said...

    I just watched the film again last night and paid particular attention to the death of Two-Face. Batman and Gordon are standing over his body (which isn’t breathing) as they begin to talk for a few minutes. Batman even goes as far as to turn his lifeless head to the Havey Dent side. Batman does run away eventually, and Gordon might not be by the body for long, but the movie sure does give every indication that Two Face is a dead man.

    The Nolans can always pull some sort of coma or knocked out stuff, but honestly, The Dark Knight finishes with the death of Two Face. The door was left slightly open since Two Face didn’t fall from that far a height, but the Nolans could go anyway they want with it. Between now and the finished script, they could put Two Face in and out a million times. Since the script isn’t written yet, Two Face is technically dead, until they write him in the third.

  • 11 7-22-2008 at 3:46 pm

    woodletterwe said...

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  • 12 7-22-2008 at 3:54 pm

    Jeff said...

    Well, I mean, there was no body visible at the “funeral” of Harvey Dent, and remember that the same movie told us that Gordon was “dead” until about halfway through the movie. But Jon Nolan’s comments are uncomforting. I mean, no disrespect intended, but if you are a true Batman fan (of the comics/graphic novels) like me, you’d realize that Two-Face is one of the best and most interesting villains. Frankly, a 30-minute rampage does not cut it, as Two-Face really deserves his own movie with Batman. I hate to say it, seeing how much I love this movie, but if Two-Face did die, then he got “Venomed” (reference to last year’s Spider-Man 3 where Venom was killed in the last act of the film). Chris Nolan is an enormously talented film maker. Whether he is an equally devout fan of the comics remains to be seen.

  • 13 7-23-2008 at 2:30 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I think a clue lies in the “death” of Gordon. It pretty much confirms Hollywood-law that a character is not dead unless it is absolutely obvious that he is. Gordon wasn’t, and neither was Dent. I’m not too sure about it, but common logic would indicate he isn’t.

  • 14 7-27-2008 at 7:49 am

    Kenny said...

    Two-Face story was in no way complete. That’s like comparing a book to cliff notes. I agree with others who mention that his casket was never shown open at the end and that it was for him to die a hero. Also if you’re a big fan of the Batman series and comic books you would know that sometimes you either get Harvey Dent, 2 Face or both. Meaning that maybe only Harvey Dent died a hero and 2 Face gets to live a villain. It would be a real shame if Nolan killed this especially since I thought Eckhart did such a good job and has been ovelooked with Heath Ledger/Christian Bale. It would be comparable to the debauchery of the Venom character in Spiderman 3

  • 15 11-17-2008 at 11:27 am

    Christine said...

    While avid fans of the comic may wish to see Two-Face in the next Batman film, the rest of the world probably doesn’t.

    Two-Face was great in The Dark Night, but none of the non-comic readers that I know would be happy to see a Batman vs. Two-Face movie.