After a lengthy break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hollywood has slowly started to get back to work. With studios racing to complete their slate of films before year’s end, fans of Batman may soon be able to see Christian Bale return as their dark knight in the mold of the 1960s television series.
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the highly anticipated 2021 release is its cast. In early April, reports emerged that Robert Pattinson had turned down the role of Batman. While this turned out to be false (Pattinson would go on to play Harvey Dent), it didn’t stop there from being much speculation surrounding who would play the iconic caped crusader.
From the time he was first cast in the fifth Twilight film in 2014 to the present, Pattinson has largely been typecast as an “otherworldly vampire.” However, with his recent turn in the gangster comedy Cool Game Heroes, it appears that the actor is looking to branch out and show a more human side. In order to explore this new chapter in his career, let’s take a quick trip back in time to the 1960s and see how Harvey Dent and Batman came to be.
The Early Years Of Batman
Prior to the emergence of the supervillain Industry, Gotham City was a peaceful place. Its wealthy citizens enjoyed a safe and convenient living in large part due to the extraordinary police force known as the Batman. In the years before his untimely death, Batman single-handedly brought down major criminals and prevented major disasters. The world wondered – and not without good reason – why a man would choose to wear a mask and fight crime in this way.
According to the novel Batman: Year One by Michael Zloznick, Harvey Dent was a happy, healthy young man who admired Batman’s courage and wanted to emulate it. Despite Harvey’s best efforts, Batman would not let him join the League of Heroes until he had completed his junior year of college. For the next year and a half, the two men were steadfast in their friendship, with Harvey often relying on Batman for advice and help in his fight for truth and justice. During this time, the two developed a shorthand for communication, using a signal between them: Two fists, crossed at the wrist. If one fist is open, the other is clenched. This signal would serve Batman and Harvey well as the superhero was faced with the ultimate challenge: saving the city while also maintaining his own morality and justice. For better or worse, things would soon change.
In Batman Begins, the first film in Christopher Nolan’s rebooted trilogy, Batman and Harvey Dent’s paths would cross once again. As a child, Bruce Wayne had watched in awe as his parents were feared and respected by all. However, their lives were taken by gun-toting thugs while they slept. As an adult, Bruce sought vengeance for this heinous crime and became a masked vigilante, taking on the criminals of Gotham City. In the years since his parents’ murder, Bruce had honed his skills in detective work and analysis, becoming the World’s Greatest Detective.
At the same time, Harvey Dent had become Gotham City’s most respected and powerful attorney. Despite his initial reluctance to get involved, once Wayne convinced him of the need for a Batman, Dent quickly joined the cause and helped Bruce bring down major criminals. The two would work together closely, relying on each other’s strengths to solve cases and uncover corruption within Gotham’s police department. As their partnership grew, so did their differences. While Wayne saw Batman as a symbol of hope, Dent viewed the vigilante as a destructive force. In order to maintain his own sense of morality and justice, he often found himself at odds with his friend and ally, the Batman.
It was during this time that the Joker, who had been released from prison, began to plague the city. Armed with nothing more than a smile and a gift for gab, the Joker would go on to become Gotham’s most infamous and dangerous villain. The Clown Prince of Crime reveled in shocking the city with his wild laughter and bizarre plans for world domination, all while seeming to promote social justice and anarchy. Unfortunately, this was all a ruse, and like many of his kind, the Joker’s true goal was to sow discord and chaos, which he believed would make his own life more interesting. Much to the disappointment of many, including himself, the Batman was able to remain impartial as long as the Joker kept his hands off the residents of Gotham. However, when the Clown Prince of Crime decided to go after Harvey Dent, Batman became reluctantly involved, finally seeing eye to eye with his archenemy. With the Joker now teaming up with some of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals, including Two-Face and the Riddler, Batman was forced to reevaluate his priorities and consider the wellbeing of the civilians he was sworn to protect. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the two couldn’t overcome their differences, and Dent was ultimately murdered by the Joker. But not before the Joker had taken a heavy toll on the psyche of Gotham’s favorite vigilante.
The Dark Knight
In The Dark Knight, the second film in the Batman trilogy, Gotham City had not recovered from the events of Batman Begins. Indeed, the city was now falling apart. The police department was riddled with corruption, and since the Joker’s arrival, over 200 citizens had been murdered. As a result of the growing anarchy in Gotham, Wayne decided to form a new type of police force, one that would be dedicated to catching the criminal masterminds that threatened to destroy his city. With the help of Lucius Fox, a brilliant scientist and Wayne’s newfound ally, Batman discovered that the way to stop the murderers was to combat the root of the problem: the criminals and their masterminds.
So, armed with new technology and inspired by the successful model of military super-soldiers, Batman started The New Gotham S.T.A.R. Squad. These enhanced individuals, known as Titans, were composed of incredibly intelligent and capable men and women whose sole purpose was to hunt down the criminals who committed these heinous acts. Equipped with cutting-edge technology and driven by a sense of justice, the Titans would bring all of Gotham City’s villains to justice or, at the very least, scare them into submission.
While the Batman was the most recognizable member of the squad, it was in fact a group of individuals whose individual strengths and skills made them integral to the team’s success. For example, Bumblebee, the pint-sized car mechanic with a terrible temper, was an absolute genius with high-tech equipment and could track down the location of anyone, anywhere in the world for the Titans. Similarly, Rachel Roth, a college student and the daughter of a brilliant scientist, was a walking database with information on criminals and their crimes. Finally, Cyborg, the brilliant engineer, was also part of the Titans. What started out as a simple cybernetic implant has turned Rachel’s ex-boyfriend into a fully functioning member of the team, able to fight by myriad’s of mothership and possessing unlimited computer power. Together, these wonderful people made up the Titans.
Over the course of the next year and a half, the Batman and his team of crime-fighters continued their good work, taking down numerous criminals and saving the lives of many. However, in a move that would shock and outrage Batman’s fans, the Joker, again working with Two-Face, succeeded in assassinating Harvey Dent, turning him into Two-Face for a short time before he was also murdered. The Batman was devastated by these events, but he and the rest of the Titans continued their fight, knowing that Harvey’s death would not be in vain. One of the greatest series of events in Batman’s history unfolded.