The early days of Gotham have shown that the origins of both Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne have as much to do with villains as it does heroes, and yet another major character in the overall story of both crimefighters has been cast. Showrunner Bruno Heller had previously confirmed that Season 1 of Gotham would introduce Harvey Dent, and regardless of how long it will take for him to take on the moniker (and scars) of the villainous ‘Two-Face,’ it will be Nicholas D’Agosto (Masters of Sex, Final Destination 5) playing the part.
The casting comes courtesy of Deadline, with D’Agosto’s role expected to be a recurring one in Season 1, with the option to add him as a regular cast member for Season 2 (and given the early buzz surrounding the show, a second season is all but guaranteed). Fans of the character, the comic books, or simply Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight will have a good idea of what to expect from Dent early on, and the reported character description shows the writers aren’t changing what isn’t broken:
In the Batman prequel series, based on the DC characters, Harvey Dent is a bright, charming, idealistic Assistant District Attorney whose sole mission is to eradicate the crime and corruption that has poisoned Gotham. Although he will one day serve as the white knight Gotham needs so badly as a DA, Dent also gives us a fleeting glimpse of the hideous villain he will become — Two-Face.
D’Agosto may be as much of a lesser-known actor as many of his co-stars in the seedy criminal world of Gotham – with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) tasked with picking up the slack of Jada Pinkett Smit and John Doman – but with his recent work on Showtime’s Masters of Sex proves he’s no lightweight. And considering what his character can bring to the larger themes and story, that’s a relief.
It’s been expected that James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) would eventually find some allies in his war on the crime that has taken over Gotham, but some viewers may take issue with him finding it in Harvey Dent so early in his story. After all, Aaron Eckhart’s version of the character only rose to power once he could aid both Batman and Lieutenant Gordon in their mission. That formula worked quite well for both the film’s story and themes of good vs. evil – but introducing a much younger Dent so early presents some new challenges.
For the most part, they’ll echo the same ones that have hung over the series since its initial pitch: mainly, will audiences tune in to see Jim Gordon fighting villains that comic history says only Batman could defeat? If he emerges victorious (on a weekly basis), the writers risk erasing the need for Bruce Wayne’s alter ego; if he fails, well… that could grow tired quite quickly.
Enter Harvey Dent: a young, idealistic district attorney stepping into a city on the brink of madness. The immediate question is how the writers will portray a good man who ultimately fails in cleaning up the city (despite having a decade to do so) – the more pressing one is just how long the show’s writers plan to wait before turning him from hero to villain?
With crime boss Sal Maroni already present in Gotham‘s first season (played by David Zayas), the circumstances for Dent’s disfiguring are in place, since it was acid thrown from Maroni’s hand that scarred half his face in the comic origin story. For now we’ll give the showrunners the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they’ve sought an actor with D’Agosto’s potential with an eye for the long haul. Meaning he’ll show his importance to the story as Dent first, before adding him to the ranks of the growing number of villains in store for the series.
What are your thoughts on the casting and description? Have you felt that a story of Gordon’s rise to authority should feature Harvey Dent as a major player, or do you have concerns? And most importantly, will you be looking to see Harvey Dent earn his name in the courtroom, or should the show transform him into his more famous form as soon as possible?
Gotham returns next Tuesday with “The Balloon Man” @8pm on FOX.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on Gotham as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.