- "You mean when you run the show? You ain't got no future, Jack! You're an A-1 nut boy, and Grissom knows it."
- ―Max Eckhardt to Jack Napier[src]
Eckhardt was one of the many corrupt officers on the payroll of Crimelord Carl Grissom. Although Eckhardt never directly came face to face with Batman, he discarded all claims about the mysterious vigilante, and even belittled Reporter Alexander Knox for his belief in him. Moments afterward, Eckhardt met with Jack Napier, one of Grissom's enforcers, to accept a bribe. Napier informed Eckhardt that newly-elected District Attorney, Harvey Dent, was nosing around one of Grissom's front companies, but Eckhardt brooded that was in charge of looking after Grissom's illegal front companies and will deal with the problems. Napier reminded him that his problems are also the problems of the team he works with. Napier then hinted Eckhardt of his plan to overthrow Grissom, but Eckhardt merely scoffed at him, and told him that he had no future. A brief struggle ensued, and Eckhardt only decided not to shoot Napier when Napier's Hood, Bob, aimed a gun in his face.
Eckhardt later received a call from Grissom, who informed him that he set up a trap for Napier and his men at Axis Chemicals (Napier had an affair with Grissom's mistress, Alicia Hunt, something that Eckhardt himself apparently informed Grissom about, and Grissom wanted revenge), and requested that Eckhardt ambush and kill Napier with a squadron of police officers. A gunfight erupted at Axis Chemicals between the police and Napier's Hoods, during which Commissioner James Gordon arrived, took control, and ordered the police to apprehend Napier alive. Eckhardt then attempted to escape, but was shot in the chest and killed by a vengeful Napier, who fell into a vat of chemicals moments afterwards during a fight with Batman, and started his transformation into the Joker.
Behind the Scenes
When Eckhardt said: "Where have you been spending your nights?", it’s likely a hint that he found out about the affair that Jack had with Alicia, and therefore told Grissom, this was confirmed in the novelization.
Although that was not been directly confirmed by the film's Screenwriters, it was widely believed that Max Eckhardt was inspired by the comic characters Detective Harvey Bullock and Detective Arnold Flass, both of whom were, at least at one point, were corrupt policemen on crime's payroll, and were partners of Commissioner Gordon. Also, Eckhardt's physical structure and attitude: overweight, unshaven, and gruff, were also characteristics of Bullock.