The Dark Knight Was Almost Split Into 2 Movies: How It Would’ve Changed

While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is now considered one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, the story was originally planned to be told over two different movies – and it would have been very different. Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy has been met with universal acclaim, but the second film is by far the fan favorite, with Heath Ledger’s Joker and Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Two-Face being some of the most beloved parts of the series. However, before the series was subjected to significant rewrites, The Dark Knight‘s Joker and Two-Face story was supposed to take place over two different films, with a lot of the series’ original ideas getting changed or even thrown out.


The Dark Knight is the second installment in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this time following Bruce Wayne as he attempts to stop Joker’s reign of terror on Gotham, while also dealing with District Attorney Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face. Upon its release, The Dark Knight saw success unlike any superhero film before it, with the movie not only being a box office hit but even winning Academy Awards. Not only is The Dark Knight often considered the best film in the trilogy, but many even say that it is Christopher Nolan’s greatest film, which is high praise considering the director’s legendary filmography.

Along with Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer wrote Batman Begins, with Goyer and Jonathan Nolan writing the subsequent two films in the trilogy. After the success of Batman Begins, Goyer immediately began work on a sequel that would focus on Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s attempts to take down the Clown Prince of Crime, Joker. The film implemented a lot of elements, notably introducing Harvey Dent, but the story got so big that Goyer decided to split it between two scripts according to CBR. Christopher Nolan did change both The Dark Knight scripts, condensing them down into one film, cutting and changing a lot of story elements in the process. So, here are all the big changes that were planned when The Dark Knight was originally split into two movies.

Joker Would Have Been The Dark Knight‘s Only Villain

Although Batman Begins focused on two villains, Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul, the second film in Goyer’s original The Dark Knight trilogy plans solely focused on the Joker. For reasons that will be mentioned later, Harvey Dent wouldn’t be playing an antagonist role in the second film, leaving Joker as the one and only villain in The Dark Knight. Presumably, this version would have featured more interactions between Joker and Gotham’s criminal underworld, something that is also featured in the final film. However, there clearly must have been more elements to the Joker’s story, many of which never saw the light of day.

Joker Would Have Been In Both Movies

Goyer’s original scripts actually had Joker being the villain in both The Dark Knight films. There have been rumors that it was planned for Joker to appear in The Dark Knight Rises since The Dark Knight‘s release, but these rumors mostly stem from Goyer’s original plans. While Joker’s plan in The Dark Knight mostly consisted of him just causing chaos and watching the world burn, the villain most likely had a more complex plan originally, as he would have had to fill the antagonist role in both films. If these original plans had come to fruition, Bane wouldn’t have appeared in the series, as there is no evidence that he was in Goyer’s original plans. While many viewers may want to have seen Joker have a more significant impact on the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises would have been almost unrecognizable from its final cut if Joker were to appear in both films.

Harvey Dent Would Have Put Joker On Trial

Although the Joker is arrested at the end of The Dark Knight‘s final incarnation, never to be seen again, it was originally planned for Joker to still play a big part in the series after his capture. Originally, Harvey Dent would have spent the second film in the trilogy assisting Batman and Gordon in their hunt for the Joker, not turning into Two-Face. According to SlashFilm, the third film would have opened with the Joker’s trial, with District Attorney being the one to prosecute the Clown Prince of Crime. The trial of Joker and his subsequent imprisonment is never hinted at in the final version of The Dark Knight trilogy, but Goyer’s original plans for the third and final installment would have spent a significant chunk telling this story.

Harvey Dent Wouldn’t Have Become Two-Face Until The Dark Knight 2

While Harvey Dent turns into Two-Face about halfway through the final version of The Dark Knight, Goyer’s original plans for Harvey didn’t have him making this transformation until the second of his two scripts. Initially, it was planned that the Joker would somehow scar Harvey Dent during the trial, turning the character into Two-Face. Although the means by which Joker would pull this off is unknown, it would have undoubtedly been different from the final film in which he traps both Harvey and Rachel Dawes in buildings rigged with explosives. After the events of the trial, Joker and Two-Face would be dual antagonists in the latter half of the third film, with it finally resembling the version of The Dark Knight that exists today.

The Dark Knight Wouldn’t Have Been As Good

While many of David S. Goyer’s original plans for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight 2 are interesting, they wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as the final product. The Dark Knight is known for its perfect blend of themes and its superhero story, with the Joker’s ideas of chaos being what makes the villain interesting. The Joker believes that anyone is one bad day away from being like him, and the way he turns Dent into Two-Face perfectly highlights this – something that wouldn’t have worked without the death of Rachel Dawes and Harvey’s anger toward Batman. On top of that, Joker’s uncertain background and limited screen time significantly improve the character, and it is doubtful they could have maintained this veil of mystery if Joker was the main villain in the two films. The legacy of Joker and Harvey Dent is present in The Dark Knight Rises, but this balance would have been much harder to pull off if the story was told over two films. The Joker’s trial and other elements of David S. Goyer’s original plans for The Dark Knight are interesting, but Christopher Nolan condensing it into one movie was the correct choice.

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