Remember like five seconds ago where I showed you the picture of Bruce standing mirrored to the giant bat? Turns out that the idea of mirroring, parallels between different characters, shows up a whole lot in Batman Forever.
Obviously, there is the ongoing inner struggle between Batman and Bruce Wayne. This is the crux on which just about every Batman movie hinges on. The Riddler himself spells it out during the final showdown, “Can Bruce Wayne and Batman ever truly co-exist?”
But there are many more examples of mirrored characters throughout the film.
Unlike Batman who switches back and forth between his two personas, Harvey Two-Face is both of his identities at the same time. Once a respected district attorney, now a widely feared and dangerous criminal, Two-Face is the most readily identifiable example of mirroring in the film besides Batman. This is represented visually by dividing Harvey down the middle: one side he still wears his professional suit and tastefully parted hair and the other side he wears a suit that looks it was designed by Salvador Dali while abusing LSD.
This one’s a little more subtle, I didn’t pick up on it at all until I rewatched the movie. But it’s definitely there, supported visually and in Goldman’s screenplay.
When we first meet Nygma, he is hauled up in his little cubicle with his wild machines and he has plastered numerous photographs and magazine clippings of Bruce Wayne all around him, establishing him as a figure that Nygma looks up to and aspires to be.
When they first meet and shake hands, Wayne asks Nygma for his name:
Nygma: Ohhh, Bruce Wayne…
Wayne: No, that’s uh, my name.
As Nygma rants about his invention and the partnership he sees between him and Wayne, he grasps Bruce around the shoulder like an old buddy and proclaims, “Look at us! Two of a kind!”
In addition, Bruce Wayne is wealthy and has a sprawling mansion…
….while Edward Nygma is poor and has an extremely narrow and cramped apartment.
After Nygma teams up with Two-Face to steal “production capital” and he finally gets Nygmatech (wonder where he got the name) off the ground, there is a quick scene of a press conference where Nygma unveils the Box. Nygma wears a suit, overcoat, has slicked back hair and no longer wears glasses. In Akiva Goldman’s screenplay, he writes:
Edward Nygma, dressed like Bruce Wayne to the smallest detail, stands on a podium, giving a press conference.
Nygma has become Wayne’s mirror, now equal in both appearance and affluence.
Chase spends a good deal of the film having the hots for Batman. When he first appears to her at the beginning of the film, Batman swings gracefully and heroically down to her. Their flirty banter immediately establishes that both characters are quick thinking and Chase does little to hide her attraction.
During the scene on the roof, the one where Chase summons Batman with the Bat Signal (they should keep that thing locked or something), she goes through her history of bad boy attractions, dating back to when she was in high school. Now she has simply reached a new stage in her bad boy fetish.
Since Batman cannot reveal his identity to her and because he is by nature a distant and isolated figure, Chase’s attraction to him could be viewed as a purely sexual one where her slower draw to Bruce Wayne shows an attraction on a deeper level… after she gets over him breaking the crap out of her door.
When Batman shows up at her window one evening she ultimately realizes that she would rather have Bruce and even says, “I guess a girl has to grow up sometime.” She has chosen a more substantial relationship as opposed to a more superficial one.
Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson
After Dick’s parents are murdered by Two-Face, Wayne takes the young man in because Wayne cannot escape how they have both had their families taken from them by a psychopath. Wayne also realizes that there is a possibility that Dick may follow a path to take revenge against Two-Face. Probably around the time that Dick says he’s going to take revenge against Two-Face. Around then.
In the cave after Dick first appears as Robin (in his circus uniform) and rescues Batman, Bruce condones Dick’s actions and warns him to give up his vendetta against Two-Face.
Dick: You don’t understand, your parents weren’t killed by a maniac.
Bruce: Yes they were. We’re the same.
In the script, we are offered the following description at the end of the circus sequence as Dick looks down and sees the bodies of his family –
DICK’S POV: STRAIGHT DOWN – The Dead Bodies
BRUCE – CLOSE: His face a tragic echo of Dick’s pain.
The entire circus sequence features some interesting visuals and foreshadowing pertaining to Dick Grayson’s vendetta and ultimate resolution.
Again, if you don’t remember Two-Face and his gang take over the circus while the Grayson’s are performing. He threatens to blow the place up if nobody offers up the identity of Batman. They roll out a big black and red bomb, attach it to a cable and lift it up to the top of the tent (where it would blow up exactly no one. I never got that part.)
As the large bomb is raised into the rafters, the Graysons sans Dick climb up and try to stop it. Two-Face fires and blasts away the cables holding the rafters up; the Graysons fall to their deaths.
Meanwhile, Dick intercepts the bomb and disposes of it by rolling it off of the circus roof and into the river where it explodes harmlessly (as harmless as it would have at the top of a big circus tent). He returns and looks down from the ceiling, seeing the bodies of his family on the floor. Now notice the design of the circus floor.
It is a large yellow circle with a smaller red circle inside of it. The even smaller black circle inside the red also makes it appear to be an eye.
This design has appeared in the film twice previously.
First, the drums shown at the beginning of the circus sequence show are designed with an inverse color design.
The shot begins as a close up with the mallets rhythmically pounding the drum and then pulls out the reveal the entire circus. The mallets hitting the drum may foreshadow the bodies of the Grayson’s pounding on the circus floor. Grim, I know.
The second appearance of this design appeared even earlier in the film during the opening action sequence as Batman hangs off a chain attached to Two-Face’s helicopter. Two-Face then forces the pilot to plunge the aircraft through a large neon advertisement.
Wouldn’t you know? Another large yellow circle with a red center.
It’s even emphasized by having it reflected in the windshield of the helicopter right before impact.
All of this could be written off as coincidence but I mention it only because of, again, something that Goldsman wrote in the screenplay.
During this helicopter sequence, the neon advertisement was not for Occu-Wash but for Wayne Solar Energy, something that was also discussed during Wayne and Nygma’s meeting. The billboard is meant to depict a sun with a slogan singing the praises of solar energy. He writes:
…essentially a giant neon sun, the Wayne Tech logo burning bright yellows and red over the message Solar: The Power of the Future
Remember that Nygma has his own thoughts on the future. (The FUTURE of Wayne Enterprises is brain waves!)
Since Goldsman described the sign as being a sun, are we supposed to view the drum and circus floor as some kind of sun symbols as well? I cannot be entirely sure but I do think it was a deliberate choice on the filmmaker’s part to have this particular design in those three instances connect in some way, if only to be consistent.
Or there’s a conspiracy. A conspiracy of menacing circles.
Dick looking down from the top of the circus at the bodies of his family comes back again at the end of the film, kind of.
After having rescued Robin and Chase from falling to their deaths at the hands of the Riddler and his fortress is blowing up, the three of them are hanging out on a girder when Two-Face appears and goes to shoot them. Batman reminds him that he has to flip his coin again, at which point he readies a handful of identical coins. As Two-Face flips, Batman tosses the coins up so Two-Face can’t tell which one is his. He freaks out and loses his balance.
As he falls, they cut to a close up of Robin who watches wide eyed as the man who killed his family falls to a watery grave.
To Dick, it’s kind of like poetic justice. As he looked down at his dead family on a circular shaped floor, so does Two-Face fall down a shaft towards a circular bottom.
Holy resolution, Batman!
Robin can now put his demons to bed along with his thirst for revenge even though he wasn’t the one who killed Two-Face. So both he and Bruce move on with their lives not fueled by guilt or aggression.
They are SO parallel!
Now we move on to the next section that will talk about the concept of punishment (I told you it’d be here) and the fact that there are a lot of references to S&M in a superhero movie targeted at kids.