DC Animation’s latest pits two legends against each other in Batman vs. Two-Face but the production is a much bigger deal thanks to the vocal talent behind the diversity of characters. A sequel to Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, this is a light-hearted take on the characters with deeper inclinations, as well as a fitting posthumous send off for the legendary Adam West.
West voices Batman, the character he played so admirably and tongue-in-cheek in live-action shows and the previous animated film. He’s joined by his longtime sidekick Burt Ward as Robin/Dick Grayson, his often foil/love interest Julie Newmar as Catwoman, and the one-time Catwoman Lee Meriwether as Lucilee Diamond. Across the battle line for much of the film is another pop culture stalwart, William Shatner as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
While fans of pop culture can get lost in whose voices they are hearing, the plot has some grit to it as well. Hugo Strange (Jim Ward) wants to suck all of the evil out of several villains which Batman is skeptical of; in some ways, the film’s narrative asks if sin can be artificially removed or not. [For the record, I’ll hold that we have to fight to be who we are supposed to be, accepting grace through the death of Jesus on the cross. But sin and evil can’t ‘artificially’ be stamped out.] Of course, Strange is a bad guy, and the evil gets mixed up with Dent’s accidental exposure.
Throughout the film, alongside the hijinks of West and Ward’s vocals, there are delightful explorations of what it means to wear a mask, to be two-faced, to be of two minds. In many ways, it’s who we are as people – who we want to be and who we are sometimes. It becomes a clever exploration of this idea – taken from the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans by the Apostle Paul:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do?this I keep on doing.? Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Two-Face is torn, because Dent is actually good, but the evil he’s accidentally exposed to now fights within him, like all of us.
Special features on the Blu-ray/Digital HD include “The Wonderful World of Burt Ward,” Burt Ward on being starstruck and on ambition, Julie Newmar on inspiration, and West’s Tribute Panel from Comic-Con International 2017.