- Books, Literature, and Writing»
- Comics & Graphic Novels»
Batman '66: The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face!
Can this be? A lost episode of the 1966 Batman television series? Oh, but it can! Oh, but it is!
In the late 1960s, at the height of popularity of the Batman television series starring Adam West, there weren't too many Batman villains from the comics that hadn't already been used on the show, and even a couple that had been created specifically for the series, like Bookworm, King Tut, and Louie the Lilac. Since the Batman serials didn't use any of the villains from the comics, this was the first time characters like Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin and Mr. Freeze had been used onscreen. Villains in the Batman television series were often played by Hollywood A-Listers, such as Burgess Meredith as the Penguin and Cesar Romero as the Joker. To date, this is the only live action project that has shown The Mad Hatter (until recently, this was the only project to adapt The Clock King for live action, though he has appeared on Arrow now, and with the Batman-related television series Gotham currently on the air, the Hatter may be used again before too long). Some of Batman's most popular villains now weren't used for the '66 series, like Ra's al Ghul and Bane, because they hadn't been created yet, and there were some that did exist but still weren't used, like Poison Ivy (who was still relatively new, making her debut in Batman 181, June 1966) and the Scarecrow (who had been around since 1941, but was probably deemed too frightening for the show). Another major Batman villain who wasn't used, but had been around for quite a while by the time the series hit the air, was Two-Face, however, Two-Face almost made it to the Adam West television series in a story called "The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face" written by science fiction master Harlan Ellison, who had also written episodes of The Outer Limits as well as the episode "City on the Edge of Forever" for the original Star Trek.
History of the Character
Two-Face made his first appearance in Detective Comics #66 (August, 1942) as former District Attorney Harvey Kent, who had been horribly scarred on one side of his face in a horrible accident. This accident caused Harvey to slip into insanity, and the once honorable prosecutor had become one of the villains that he had once helped put away. Harvey's last name was later changed from Kent to Dent in an effort to avoid causing confusion with Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent.
Two-Face has become one of Batman's most popular villains, appearing in the films Batman Forever and The Dark Knight (a pre-scarring Harvey Dent was Gotham City District Attorney in the first Batman film in 1989) and appeared numerous times on Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Two-Face is often depicted as a clinical schizophrenic suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. Two-Face is incapable of making a decision without the use of his two-headed coin which, like himself, has a pristine side and a scarred side. The pristine side represents good and the scarred side evil. If he is trying to decide, for instance, whether or not to rob a bank, the pristine side would be the decision not to rob it and the scarred side would represent the decision to rob the bank. He also flips the coin during the commission of a crime to decide whether or not to kill hostages or whether or not to include things other than cash in a robbery. Two-Face sees the world as nothing more than random chance. There is no true justice in Two-Face's worldview. An innocent man may be convicted and a guilty man may go free based purely on chance. So Two-Face sees his coin as the only true justice in the world, the justice of random chance.
Two-Face had originally only appeared in three stories before the character was cured and his face and sanity were restored. By 1954, Two-Face had vanished from the Batman mythos. There were two stories of impostor Two-Faces, one being Harvey Dent's butler, named Wilkins, and the other being a movie star named Paul Sloane, who had been hired to play Harvey Dent in a movie about the lawyer's life, but was horribly scarred during an on-set accident, making him really look like Two-Face and going insane as Dent had done. Each of these impostors only had one single issue story each, but Harvey Dent was eventually returned to the Batman mythos in the 1970s.
The Lost Episode
There are many conflicting reports as to exactly how Two-Face was going to be used in the Adam West television series, and conflicting rumors as to why he was never used at all. According to Wikipedia, Two-Face was going to be a television newscaster instead of a District Attorney who was scarred in an on-set accident, which would have made him more similar to the Paul Sloane character than the Harvey Dent character. Wikipedia also claims that the character was deemed "too gruesome and too violent" for the kid friendly television series. The assertion that Two-Face was going to be a scarred television news anchor is refuted by the actual treatment that was originally written by Harlan Ellison, and which was published in Batman '66: The Lost Episode #1, which also adapted the episode in comic form. Other online sources claim that the Two-Face episode was planned for the third season, and that the show was cancelled before the episode could go into production. This is also refuted by the Harlan Ellison treatment, as there is a note within the treatment that it had been revised 12 Nov 65, which means it was being considered for the first season. We may never know for sure why the episode never went into production.
It is also rumored that Clint Eastwood was being talked to for the role, and this is confirmed by TV Guide's profile of Clint Eastwood on their website. In the mid to late 1960s, I don't think there was a better choice for the character than Clint, and I wish we could have gotten this episode based on that casting alone. Clint Eastwood's voice is just a perfect fit for Two-Face. Adam West mentions in his autobiography, Back to the Batcave, that he and Eastwood had developed a close friendship in the 1960s, so the idea of Clint getting a part in West's Batman series seems to have some weight. I am not sure that with the serious nature of the Two-Face character that he would have been a good fit for the '66 Batman television series, but it would definitely have been interesting. In 1966, Two-Face wasn't nearly the level of rogue that he is today. He was a C-List Batman villain back then, so there wasn't a huge demand to get him into the series, as there would be today. Whatever the reason for him not being used, I believe it is safe to say that he is missed more today than we would have been back then.
Comic Book Adaptation
This week (19 Nov 2014) DC Comics has released a comic book adaptation of the infamous lost Two-Face episode as a one-shot under their Batman '66 banner. The adaptation was written written by comic book superstar Len Wein (creator of Wolverine as well as the All-New, All-Different X-Men team) and illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and was released as an 80-page one-shot which also includes the entire story in pencil format (no inks, no color, no words) as well as the original Harlan Ellison treatment.
While definitely in keeping with the style and tone of the television series, which the entire Batman '66 comic book strives to be, the story did have a bit more serious tone than the average episode of the television series, which did have its serious moments even though the bulk of the series did tend to be a little over the top. The story was incredibly interesting, and unlike most episodes of the series, actually explained the origin of Two-Face through flashback as Batman is explaining it to Robin. It is only roughly the length of a single episode, which would have fit with the third season, but since it was written for the first season, I was fairly disappointed that it wasn't written as a two part story, as though it actually were an episode of the television series. But overall the comic is very good and I do hope that Batman '66 brings Two-Face into the series proper and gives us a hint at what future stories involving Two-Face could have been if they had chosen to move "The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face" into production and it had actually made it to air.