Author's Notes and Commentary
(Warning: Spoilers for all three Nolan Bat-films)
In writing the author's notes and chapter commentary for Two Faces, I want to first make an observation that I'm sure many of you have noticed: all of my fanfics are answers to questions. Just looking at my Batman fanfics:
- Rebirth = What if Ra's had a Lazarus Pit? What would he say and do?
- Rachel Dawes = how would Bruce react to Rachel's death?
- Green Dawn = what would Poison Ivy be like in the Nolan Bat universe?
- Two Faces = what if Batman chose to save Dent (and Rachel got burned)?
I guess when I write fanfics, not only do I do so to extend stories I enjoy, but also as a way to answer hypothetical questions the story raises.
Two Faces is my first genuine AU story: it does not fit into the Nolan continuity, but is a pure what-if story about how The Dark Knight story would have evolved had Batman chose to save Dent, and thereby actually saving Rachel. Of course, I also added another twist: what if Rachel was the one who got half-burned, and turned into a Two-Face character? First I should note that in a way, Rachel Dawes is Harvey Dent; without her, Dent would have probably been in Batman Begins as the idealistic attorney trying to fight crime. Conceivably it would have added to the devastating turn when he becomes Two-Face in Dark Knight, but of course he couldn't be Bruce's love interest—at least not a conventional one, lol! And as I will say later (including my final Batman fanfic), before TDK came out, Two-Face's turn to evil and Batman's struggle to defeat him was my prediction for what the third and final movie of the trilogy was going to be. Of course, they decided to go in an entirely different direction in The Dark Knight Rises.
In a nutshell, what happens in Two Faces incorporates much of what I had predicted would be in the third movie: instead of Two-Face killing a bunch of people and then being killed by Batman, in my imagination either the Joker escapes in TDK or in the third movie, and Two-Face secretly takes over the city government and creates a virtual police state, tearing Gotham apart searching for the Joker. Batman is caught in the middle, trying to capture the Joker while trying to stop Two-Face as he uses crooked cops and mercenaries to exterminate the mob while seeking the Joker. In the end, the Joker kills Two-Face, and Batman captures the Joker, and that was the end.
Rather than making Dent a mob boss (which is implausible because he's not a crooked DA and would have no allies within the mob), I think it would have been far scarier if he presided over a shadowy death-squad operation, torturing criminals secretly and killing them without any legal protection. That's much scarier, and if you think of TDK as a metaphor on the war against terror, showing Two-Face as a deranged counter-terrorist, willing to abandon law and human rights to capture the bad guy, would have made for a terrifying and compelling villain distinct from the Joker. Alas, Nolan went in a completely different direction with TDKR. Not that I didn't enjoy it immensely, but the ironic thing is that TDKR could have been a fourth movie after my idea!
Still, I couldn't resist the idea of turning Rachel into Two-Face. Rachel is such a strong moral presence in the Batman trilogy, that in a way her fall would be a lot more scary and sad than Dent's, who after all was only introduced in the second film (had he been in the first, it probably would have been a much more devastating turn). And as I'm sure you noticed, there's a lot of fun and sexy things that can be done with a bad Rachel Dawes!
But to treat the hypothetical more seriously, what if Batman had saved Rachel, but Dent had died in TDK, without Rachel being burned? I just want to outline my thinking on this: first, I don't think Bruce would have let Rachel out of his protection. Surprisingly, the rest of the movie could have unfolded exactly as it does before, although the scenes with Joker and Dent would obviously be missing. Ironically, instead of the devastating cliffhanger we got in TDK, it would have been a happy ending: Joker captured, Bruce with Rachel! (unless the Joker somehow managed to kill Rachel otherwise).
Or even more juicy, if Dent had been half-burned and Rachel survived, you would have an explosive situation for a hypothetical third movie after TDK: Dent becoming Two-Face (not because Rachel died, but just out of sheer vengeance for the Joker); the Joker probably either on trial or escaping to create more chaos; a love-triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Dent, with both Rachel and Bruce desperately trying to bring Harvey back, then failing and Rachel abandoning Dent and Batman trying to bring him down; and perhaps the grand conclusion of all, with the Joker somehow capturing Rachel, Dent and Batman facing off against him, all three fighting each other, Rachel and/or Dent dying, and Batman on the run! And the best part is, we could have had this as the third movie, and have The Dark Knight Rises as a fourth Batman movie! LOL!
But you know the saying, "If wishes were fishes…" For Two Faces, I imagined events unfolding in the following way: first, the deviations from what happened in the first movie are relatively small, but significant. Second, as the fanfic goes past the end of TDK, I incorporated into my scenario the original idea I had of Two-Face running rampant over the city with private death squads and mercenaries; here, because the Joker escapes, the big shots in the city decide enough is enough, and they take the gloves off trying to bring down the Joker (unknown to the end, Dent is alive and secretly running the operation). Because Batman refuses to kill, they enlist Rachel, who gets in deeper and deeper. In the meantime, because I'm an unabashed Bruce-Rachel shipper, I get the chance to incorporate a lot of… erm… romance… between the two, although it's tinged with darkness, and Rachel's turn to evil properly drives Bruce away.
In the next part, I will discuss chapter by chapter my thoughts as I put this story together. Towards the end, there were significant changes to what I had planned versus what actually was printed, so I'll discuss them as well. Finally, due to the long hiatus The Dark Knight Rises came out before I finished the story, and it had an important effect on the final chapters, which I will discuss below.
I've already discussed above how horribly ironic it was that had Batman done the right thing, and saved the person who was more important for Gotham as a whole, he would have gotten everything he wanted personally (an insight I took from an article I read on the Internet discussing TDK, sorry I don't have the URL here). The important little twist here is that when Bruce rescues Rachel, Dent is able to hear him and Rachel talk over the radio, and able to deduce who Batman actually is.
If you're curious, I always had planned to bring Dent back at the end. If TDK can use such an implausible fake-death as Gordon's (fake for motivation, not in realism), I think I'm allowed license to use it here! ;)
When Bruce visits Rachel in the hospital, I begin to plant the seeds of Rachel's rage; when she realizes Bruce was willing to let Harvey die to save her, she gets angry, even though had he not she would be dead.
The ramifications of Bruce's actions begin to unfold as events start to differ from TDK; in the movie Bruce decides to go off to try and save Reese from being killed by vigilantes scared into doing so by the Joker's threats. He does this even while he still has not fully come to terms with Rachel's death; it's an admirable display of Bruce's spirit to fight on despite the wounds to himself. Here, he is so concerned with protecting Rachel that he does not go to Reese's aid, which has unfortunate consequences later—Reese is killed (although whether that's a bad thing might be debatable) and Gordon put out of action—an event which leads to more dramatic consequences later.
Rachel's descent into darkness is accelerated by the Joker; this scene is very closely patterned along the lines of the one in TDK, but modified to take into account how the Joker would psychologically torment Rachel rather than Harvey in this situation. I went as nasty as I could think of while still keeping it PG-13; it's pretty bad, if I do say so myself! Planting in Rachel's mind the seed that she could have killed the Joker if she had decided to do so, and thus making her feel responsible for all those killed in the ferry, is another crucial factor in driving her to become Two-Face.
Unfortunately I cut out the part with Fox and Bruce about the cell phone spying quandary. Don't worry, more moral dilemmas for Bruce are to come!
Unlike the movie, because Bruce is preoccupied with saving Rachel, he does not go in the front way and immediately find out that the hostages and guards are switched. Instead, he sneaks around back, trying to get up to where the Joker and Rachel are, and decides to trust the SWAT teams with cleaning up the guards in the front while trying to take out the Joker in the chaos. Unfortunately, this allows the Joker's plans to work to perfection: the hostages are killed along with the guards, and the Joker is able to escape in the chaos.
As a result of the Joker throwing out both the detonators and Rachel from the top of the building, Bruce is unable to stop the destruction of the ferry. When Rachel realizes that again Bruce has allowed others to die to save her, something snaps inside of her—she's also conscious of her guilt in allowing the Joker to escape.
Now the story takes place after the events of TDK. I wanted to include more Gordon in the story, but he didn't really fit. Part of it was he had to be kept in the dark while the mercenaries are being hired and run by Rachel; originally I was going to have more detective work between Batman and Gordon to uncover the mystery, but that fell by the wayside early on.
Mayor Garcia (or Mayor Eyeshadow as I like to think of him ;)) is sort of a bland dude in the movies. He seems to be an actual force for good. Well, this is Gotham City, and everyone but Batman, Alfred and Gordon are supposed to be corrupt! ;) Here, I make him a much more sinister character. With the Joker running around loose, it's not hard to see a shady guy like my Mayor Garcia decide to try and use some muscle to solve problems the police and Batman can't handle.
More setup for Rachel's turn to the dark side. All the pain and drugs are messing with her mind. She also realizes that while she's 'lost everything', Bruce will do just fine. It makes her feel powerless, which is another potent inducement to rage.
Now we begin to see Rachel make her move. Ironically it's similar at first to Garcia's plan; try to get Batman to do the dirty deed first. Her initial attempts at seduction are pretty clumsy… but she gets much better later! ;)
This scene is setup for what would have been a more concerted joint-effort between Batman and Gordon to uncover who's behind the killings that start erupting in Gotham. Sorry I put Gordon on the sidelines.
Here the Mayor is acting with Dent in the shadows. While he's recovering in secret, Dent has begun reaching out to make contacts in the mercenary world to hire people to do his wetwork. Little does he know that one of his contacts, Joe Smith, is also working for the Joker!
All the degradations and humiliations Rachel has suffered have finally eroded her moral and ethical sensibilities. Her need for revenge against the Joker for killing Harvey, and as a first step before getting revenge against Bruce, have convinced her to take the gloves off.
These guys are based on Executive Outcomes – a real-life South African mercenary group, no longer in business anymore, I think, but if you Google them and read about them they'll scare the Bejesus out of you. Or think Blackwater / Xe. These guys have absolutely no political or ideological agenda, they're in it 100% for the money. Pay them and your target will pay; don't pay them, and you will pay!
Now that Rachel's all-in, she begins ferreting out information to use for targets. Meanwhile Batman is also on the hunt for the Joker, starting with mobsters who he thinks are in contact with him.
Just as Dent got his revenge on the dirty cops, Rachel gets hers—and unlike Harvey, no lucky coin saves Ramirez.
…And finally, what we've all been waiting for! This part probably ran on much longer than it should have, but I honestly couldn't cut it without disrupting the flow. The problem with Bruce and Rachel hooking up, as it turns out, is that I ended up cutting out some of the scenes where Rachel gets information about what Bruce is finding out as Batman.
Needless to say, Rachel and Bruce have different ideas about Afterwards. There is a distinct contrast between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent; despite his fearsome persona as the Dark Knight, Bruce on the inside is a good person on the inside and able to transcend tragedy and pain. In contrast, beneath his shining legal perfection, Dent is an angry and capricious individual, and completely fails when his morality is tested. It doesn't seem an exaggeration to extend that contrast to how they would treat the women in their lives.
Another part of the story trimmed down was Bruce, as Bruce Wayne, tracking down the mercenaries from the billionaire Playboy perspective. Originally it was other rich people who came to Bruce trying to get him involved; later I decided it worked better to get the Mayor involved directly, even though it's a bit convenient.
That was about as nasty a finish as I could imagine for Wuertz. My model for Rachel was always Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so I was very delighted to remember that the opening words of the novel could fit so well here!
Again, just a part of the Batman-Gordon subplot, sorry.
When Bruce decides to give money to Garcia, he does something which is rather controversial; he gets directly involved in crime, even if to stop it. This raises the interesting question of when, if ever, does Bruce/Batman partner with either the corrupt elite, or with other criminals, to bring down a greater threat. I don't know if there are any examples from the comics, if so I'd love to know. I would imagine no, because it's not in keeping with who Batman is, but then again Batman by definition is breaking the law, so apropos of Green Hornet, is it okay for him to break the law in order to protect it?
I wonder how Bruce would have reacted had he read the note in TDK; we find out his reaction in TDKR, but the circumstances are much different, although I suspect that his realization that Rachel had moved on was a factor that led him into the arms of Miranda Tate. In retrospect, there was no time in the very dense TDK to fit it in, or really anything about Bruce's reaction to Rachel's death. I've already done one fanfic about that subject in Rachel Dawes, and in light of TDKR, I am planning to do another one. A question left unanswered by TDK and TDKR, is why Bruce fell so hard for Rachel between Batman Begins and TDK. More about this question later.
In Round 2, Rachel is much freer and aggressive, while Bruce is more cautious and questioning. But he's only human…
Afterwards, Bruce is very suspicious by now; in a sense, I probably made it too obvious when Rachel so eagerly tells him she wants to kill the Joker. More of the Mata Hari aspect of Rachel's actions was cut out to streamline the story—originally she would have gotten Fazio's locations from Bruce during pillowtalk.
Batman and Fazio's escape is part of the cooperation between criminals and Batman that was part of this story. This was trimmed down as well, but I always liked the idea of Batman cooperating in some way with certain criminals to take down more dangerous ones. I know it's probably atypical and against character, but I cut it down for other reasons.
Two-Face has traditionally worn split-clothing; his good side being a nice neat suit, his bad side a more flamboyant outcome. Even in TDK, the clothing on his bad side was burnt. From the beginning of making Two Faces, I knew I would have Rachel half-dressed in proper business attire, and then the other half would be her basically stripped down to lingerie. I would have used it in the finale, but that was unrealistic, so it was enough to have her flaunt it here as she finally explains to Bruce what a bad girl she is!
Originally the climax of the story was going to be Batman storming the mercenary headquarters with dozens of mob goons. Alternatively, the mercenaries were going to raid the fortress of the mobsters. During the fight, most of the mercenaries and all of the goons would have been killed, while Batman, Rachel, Dent, and Janos had the final confrontation. Because I cut the story down I couldn't do that ending anymore, so instead I eliminated most of the mercenaries in the ambush on the cargo ship (there were 25-30 mercenaries in the beginning, and that number had to go down to 5-6 by the end).
Black Plains is a play on White Plains, which is in Westchester north of New York City.
Part of the final plan is still included in the Bruce/Garcia scenes: Batman threatens the Mayor to reveal the hideout of the mercenaries, then Bruce tricks the Mayor into thinking Batman threatened him (ha!), so he decides to sell the mercs out rather than face Batman's wrath.
Originally the scene where Maroni was captured was to be included, but here it's referred to in passing.
Although Batman knows where the hideout is, here he decides to wait on his attack on it until Rachel decides to go. In retrospect, this probably wasn't a logical choice; by attacking when Rachel was there he increased the risk of her death. This is a plothole, I apologize!
The reference to Batman's knees hurting when he landed atop the building is a shoutout to the doctor office scene in The Dark Knight Returns.
As discussed before the final scene was originally going to be either the mobster's HQ, which would have been a huge mansion. I moved the merc's HQ to an underground setting, because the building in Chapter 5 was too small.
Rachel gets her final revenge as she kills Maroni. Ever since the Mayor decided to sell out the mercs, Dent has been watching Bruce, waiting for him to make the final move. He follows behind Batman and kills all the mercs Batman has knocked out.
Like any good villain, Dent can't resist the temptation to monologue! But here it's more complicated; he is of two minds as to whether or not to kill Bruce, as well as Rachel. Originally Janos got back on his feet and intervened immediately, but I decided to spice it up by having Rachel and Dent reconcile, and decide to join together in a life of making Gotham into a police state, but I (to my shame) have Bruce turn Rachel and Dent against each other through the note. That provokes Dent enough for him to foolishly attack Bruce, leaving Rachel unguarded so that Janos can take her hostage.
The shootout and Rachel's final death scene was done almost exactly as it was in my mind from the beginning. At the very end, Rachel realizes all that she did was wrong and asks Bruce for forgiveness. She also acknowledges that Bruce Wayne/Batman is the superior moral force; had Rachel survived TDK, she probably would have conceded that Bruce was right, referring back to Batman Begins (and which I have her do from beyond the grave in Rachel Dawes).
All the events in the Epilogue were also in my mind from the beginning: Batman taking the fall for Rachel's actions; the Joker having duped both the mobsters and Dent into killing each other; and Dent voluntarily mutilating himself to resemble Rachel, become Two-Face, and carry out Rachel's plans to hunt down the Joker. Just before using the blowtorch, Dent hints at how he treated Rachel in bed (roughly), and the latent ugliness is in full display. Somewhat like in Green Dawn, I relied on a convenient head injury to erase Dent's knowledge of who Batman is!
Incidentally, Dent being cured (physically and psychologically) of Two-Face, then breaking down and self-scarring himself, has happened in the comics; I took my cue from Two of a Kind, which is a very grim Two Face story.
Okay, that's all for Two Faces. Like I said, I unfortunately had to make a lot of cuts and simplifications to finish the story after having put it down for so long, but most of what I wanted to do is still there, and I hope you enjoyed it!
Like I said, in honor of The Dark Knight Rises, I am going to do one more Nolan Batman fanfic. It will take place between TDK and TDKR, and it will be my attempt to answer some questions I still have from the movies:
- Why did Batman hang up his cape?
- Why was Bruce so fixated on Rachel?
- What was Bruce's energy plan, and what went wrong?
- How did Batman get the Clean Sweep?
- And most important, what is the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Batman?
I hope to get started on it as soon as I finish my Lily Potter fanfic. Till then, I along with you eagerly countdown the days till TDKR is out on disc. Take care and keep reading!
Saturday, November 10, 2012