This article contains spoilers for The Dark Knight.
Aaron Eckhart has been looking back at the role he played in Christopher Nolan’s revered 2008 Batman movie, The Dark Knight, and he feels strongly that Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent “would not approve” of his alter ego Two-Face, nor Bruce Wayne’s decision to take the blame for Dent’s killing spree in an effort to preserve his heroic image.
In his new film Wander, Eckhart co-stars with DC’s other big screen Two-Face, Tommy Lee Jones, so he’s found himself reflecting on his turn as their shared hero-turned-villain. Calling The Dark Knight “a special, special movie”, the actor states that Harvey Dent would have ultimately told the truth about the violence his character dished out.
“That’s the great thing about Harvey Dent,” Eckhart explained to THR. “Despite whatever is going on, he’s a truth-teller and he’s a moral center. And not only that, he’s the face of truth, right? I don’t want to say he’s not hiding behind something, but he’s not. Now, when he becomes Two-Face, he is. But Harvey Dent was out there fighting for every man and woman, for truth and justice, and he put himself on the line. But having done so, he got bit, and he was forever changed.”
Eckhart added that “No matter how much money or pressure there is, no matter how much coercion, control or corruption there is, Harvey Dent is going to stay true to the moral center and the truth. People can rely on that, and you don’t see that today.”
Dent’s enduring appeal in DC lore is anchored in his pure and dedicated nature, which is why it’s always so frightening to see the DA flip.
“When you become a politician, you’re expected to become corrupted, and it’s only those people who do not become corrupted that stand out,” Eckhart went on. “Otherwise, life is a lie. Here we are, worshipping politicians, sports stars, celebrities and all this sort of stuff, and yet, we don’t know if they’re corrupted or not. We don’t know why they’re making their decisions or what’s going on behind the scenes. So when you find out that somebody’s been true to themselves and true to truth, that’s a rare bird. So I believe Harvey would not approve of Two-Face or the lie that was told.”
When he got the role of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight, Nolan gave Eckhart a script that was like a novel, “and it was thick,” he revealed, with the actor comparing the experience of consuming it to “like reading literature.” He also noted that Gotham City still resonates with people today because the corruption playing out behind the scenes is all too familiar.
“You have a city that’s oppressed and being run by a criminal gang,” he said. “People can’t go out during the day, everybody’s scared for their safety, and the people that are paid to protect them are corrupted. They’re part of the gang and nobody can trust anybody. Sound like anything that’s familiar?”
Wander will be available via VOD on December 4.