What If Two-Face & The Joker Returned For The Dark Knight Rises

If both the Joker and Two-Face had returned in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman could have faced a threat even greater than Bane. This was, of course, sadly made impossible by the tragic death of Heath Ledger in 2008 before The Dark Knight Rises' production. Yet had the Joker and Two-Face been included, the direction of Christopher Nolan's sequel to The Dark Knight would have undoubtedly been different -  as even with Bane as its primary antagonist, the director could have worked all three villains into The Dark Knight Rises without changing too much.

The Dark Knight Rises picked up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with organized crime largely eradicated due to Batman (Christian Bale) and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) keeping Harvey Dent's (Aaron Eckhart) murders secret to avoid having his prosecutions as the District Attorney undone, instead blaming the crimes on Batman. Yet it is the mercenary, Bane (Tom Hardy), working with Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard) of the League of Shadows, who posthumously unmasks Dent as the real perpetrator by reading a testimonial from Gordon that revealed the truth as he sets the criminals of Gotham loose to unleash destruction onto the city.

Related: The Batman Will Regret Not Using Joaquin Phoenix's Joker

Developing a sequel to The Dark Knight was never appealing to Nolan. However, what little information is known about the early drafts of The Dark Knight Rises suggested that the Riddler was the third movie's villain, with the studio showing interest in casting Leonardo DiCaprio in the role before Nolan ultimately decided on Bane as his third major villain. As for the Joker, nothing was ever confirmed regarding the character's return, though Ledger's sister did confirm that the actor wanted to play the character again. Screenwriter David S Goyer was originally interested in using the villain across two films but ultimately settled on teasing him at the end of Batman Begins before featuring him as the main villain of The Dark Knight. Here's what would have happened if Two-Face and the Joker returned for The Dark Knight Rises.

Why Two-Face's Death Was A Dark Knight Mistake

Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent was one of the most impactful aspects of The Dark Knight. Once Dent had transformed, he gave an excellent representation of the Two-Face from the DC comics and accurately relayed what many readers expected from a cinematic take on the character. It was, therefore, a shame that Nolan did not bring Eckhart back for The Dark Knight Rises. Two-Face was one of Batman's greatest villains, so having him die after only one confrontation with the Caped Crusader felt like a wasted opportunity. Furthermore, Batman survived the fall that killed Dent, so it would have made sense for Harvey to survive as well. Though Batman's armor protected him, Harvey could have simply required hospital treatment to survive, therefore keeping the believability of the scene intact.

How Harvey Dent & The Joker's Return Would Affect Batman

Harvey Dent could have been used differently in The Dark Knight Rises, standing trial for his crimes, showing his true nature, and setting up a changed version of the movie. Alternatively, a small number of people could have been involved in Batman and Gordon's cover-up, and Harvey could have been detained in a secretive prison, perhaps beneath the grounds of Blackgate Penitentiary or Arkham Asylum. This unlawful imprisonment without a trial would have only made Bruce and Gordon's guilt about the situation worse, and Harvey's eventual escape to join the rioters of Bane's criminal army would have been very impactful.

If the Joker had returned, he would have likely continued to torture Batman from his prison cell. Nolan could have focused on the psychological impact of the Joker's actions on Bruce's mental health, with the clown taunting Bruce that he was unable to save his love interest, Rachel Dawes, and the Joker's other victims. Yet the Joker could have also taken a role similar to how Barry Keoghan's Joker was used in a deleted scene from The Batman. Having Batman turn to the Joker for advice on stopping Bane could have made for fascinating dialogue, similar to the interrogation scene in The Dark Knight.

Related: The Dark Knight Rises: Why Bane Has To Wear A Mask

The Joker & Two-Face Would Have Played Major Roles In The Dark Knight Rises' Third Act

Bane's release of the criminals of Gotham would have been far more terrifying had he also released the Joker and Two-Face into the mix. Just as Scarecrow returned and took on a role as a criminal judge, Two-Face and the Joker could have started rival criminal factions across the city. Taking inspiration from the dystopian setting of the video game Batman: Arkham City, The Dark Knight Rises could have increased its threat by having the Joker, Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Bane maintain different gangs across Gotham, fighting for turf and all set on stopping Batman, Catwoman, and Gordon from reclaiming the city. The Joker's love of chaos and lack of regard for his own life could have also seen him try to stop Batman from removing the bomb during the film's final moments, increasing the tension even further.

Including these past villains would have also helped make Bane's point that Gotham was corrupt and beyond saving. By having the physical representation of Gotham's corruption, Harvey, and the man who pushed him over the edge, the Joker, present during his declaration of Gotham's evil, Bane could have made his point far more visually. By showing Harvey Dent as Two-Face to the world for the first time, Bane could have revealed the lie far more effectively than simply reading Gordon's confession, as he did in the movie. Overall, Two-Face and the Joker's presence could have hugely benefitted the direction of The Dark Knight Rises without changing its plot too drastically. In this way, it would have felt more consistent as a final installment of The Dark Knight trilogy and rectified the mistake of using Two-Face so sparingly despite his status as one of Batman's greatest foes.

Next: The Batman's Riddler Beat Heath Ledger's Joker & It Was Perfect

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Nathanial Eker-Male (73 Articles Published)

Nathanial is a film and tv nut from the UK, living in London. He's currently studying for a Master's Degree in Film Studies and has written for sites like the UK Film Review, Inside the Magic, and Coastal House Media. He's a Hufflepuff and a Daredevil stan.

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