October 31st, 2013

Two-Face... FOREVER!!!

The animated DCAU Two-Face movie that never was (at least, not in movie form)!

Back when I was first planning out my series of Two-Face Stories That Never Were, one of the big rumors I wanted to explore was one that I could have *sworn* I'd read somewhere but couldn't back up: namely, that Paul Dini and company were planning on making an animated Batman movie featuring Two-Face, but that idea was scrapped in favor of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm!

I read about this years and years ago and could find no information online to verify or debunk this, so I was hesitant to write about something based on my own fuzzy recollections. Regardless, I've been dying to know what such a story might have been like, and how it might have affected Two-Face's popularity as well as future stories in the DCAU. I figured that, if Harvey was a central enough figure, it might have followed his character development after the events of Two-Face Part II in some capacity, probably revolving around Batman trying once again to save his friend. If Mask of the Phantasm delved into Bruce's past, perhaps the Two-Face movie would have done the same, possibly giving some much-needed backstory to Harvey and Bruce's friendship. And if it had been as good as MotP, then that means we could have gotten the Two-Face epic that the character still deserves. So yeah, it almost hurt to speculate on what could have been if only it had been made.

Well, as it turns out, the Two-Face story WAS made, just not for a movie or even in the animated series! I was skimming through an old issue of Wizard magazine from November 1995 whilst looking for a rare ad for the third Loeb/Sale Halloween special, when lo and behold, look what I discovered in the listings for new issues coming out that month! I've highlighted the pertinent bit, but I'm including the full page for the nostalgia factor, as well as a reminder of Wizard's somewhat douchebro sense of humor.

So yes, as it turns out, the potential Two-Face movie was repurposed for comics as "Two Timer" in The Batman and Robin Adventures #1 and 2! Y'know, I was *wondering* why that was one of the only multi-chapter DCAU Batman comics rather than a one-shot like all of the others! Wow, just imagine what it would have been like to have seen Two Timer as an animated film with Richard Moll performing Harvey in perhaps the most heartbreaking and tragic Two-Face tale from the whole DCAU!

Well, ultimately, I think everything worked out for the best. While I objectively think Two Timer is an excellent story, it's not one of my favorites. I've gone into details over at my review, but the short version is that I think it's too depressing, too hopeless, too much of an emotional "rocks fall, everyone dies" story where it just sucks for all involved. I especially dislike how it dashes all of the bittersweet, poignant hope explored in the episode Second Chance by destroying Harvey's friendship with Bruce as well as with Grace: "There's nothing left to save." Still, maybe it would have made more fans appreciative of the walking tragedy that is Two-Face who always seemed/seems to get the short end of the sympathy stick compared to Mister Freeze (see the "Batman Books" solicit in the Wizard page). That would have been nice.

All in all, though, things worked out for the best. Mask of the Phantasm was not just the better story, but it's also one of the best Batman stories ever created in any medium. While it would have amazing to heard Moll and Mark Hamill's performances in Two Timer, at least the comic version gave us some absolutely gorgeous artwork by Ty Templeton and Rick Burchett, some of the best art to appear in any of the DCAU Batman comics. I'd argue that it's right up there with Bruce Timm in Mad Love. And while Two Timer was a major downer, at least it led to Templeton writing this and two other absolutely fantastic Two-Face stories, three of the all-time greatest for the character. The only downside to this is that far too few people have read these stories. Man, I have got to get back to my DCAU reviews one of these days.