Paul Dano Claims the Riddler and Batman Are ‘Challenging’ the Status Quo in ‘The Batman’

Fans and critics are praising The Batman for its unique approach to the Dark Knight and the performances of Paul Dano as the Riddler and Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. And Dano revealed how their two characters contributed to the film’s individuality.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from The Batman.]

Paul Dano, who plays the Riddler in 'The Batman,' wears a black suit while standing in front of a sign for 'The Batman.'
Paul Dano | Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Paul Dano plays the Riddler in ‘The Batman’

The Batman‘s version of the Riddler was wildly different than other big-screen interpretations of the villain. Paul Dano’s character quietly crept in the shadows, stalking his prey. The Riddler, aka Edward Nashton, wasn’t as flashy as Jim Carrey’s version of the villain in Batman Forever, and he was a lot more terrifying. He was inspired by the Zodiac Killer, after all.

In the movie, the Riddler targeted elite members of Gotham, including the mayor and the police commissioner. He sought to unmask the truth about the city and the people who controlled it. While committing murders, the Riddler left clues for Batman, who he thought was on his side. The Dark Knight even inspired Edward to take on his villain persona and get vengeance against those who wronged him and the city.

Later in The Batman, Paul Dano’s Riddler killed Carmine Falcone, and the police sent him to Arkham. Batman visited him, where he learned that the Riddler had much bigger plans for Gotham. His followers carried out his final scheme of flooding the city. They also tried to kill fleeing civilians and the new mayor, but Bruce and Selina Kyle stopped them. And at the end of the film, the Riddler is discouraged by his failure when a fellow inmate, the Joker, comforts him.

Paul Dano discussed what sets ‘The Batman’ apart from other superhero films

While speaking with USA Today, Paul Dano revealed what it was like to play the Riddler and how The Batman is different from other movies.

The actor claimed that playing a new version of the Riddler “was a little scary, just for like a minute at the outset where you go, ‘Whoa!'” Dano also said that Edward “probably felt a lot of shame or self-hatred or pain. The mask allows for you to be either somebody else or to be a different version of yourself.”

He added, “The hope was that the more real this person was, the scarier that it actually might be.”

“A lot of superhero films, the morality in them is very black and white,” Dano explained. “There’s not often a lot of gray, which I think there is in life, and (the characters are) often protecting the status quo. In this film, Batman and Riddler are actually challenging that.”

As Paul Dano mentioned, The Batman reveals that the difference between hero and villain isn’t as always obvious as it may seem. And Bruce painfully discovered in the film that his drive as a vigilante was sending the wrong message to people. And instead of leading with vengeance, he should lead with hope.

A sequel is in the works

During a special screening of the movie in London, director Matt Reeves confirmed to The Independent that they are working on a sequel. So perhaps fans will see Paul Dano return as the Riddler in The Batman sequel.

“You don’t make [movie] number one as if there’s going to be number two,” Reeves said. “You have to make number one as if you are swinging for the fences, and it has to be a movie that stands and lives on its own. But I really believe in what we’ve done.”

The director continued, “And I’d be excited to tell more stories, and we are already telling other stories in the streaming space. We’re doing stuff on HBO Max. We’re doing a Penguin show with Colin [Farrell], which is going to be super cool. And we’re doing some other stuff too, but we have started talking about another movie. But right now, we’ll just put it out in the world. I’ll try to enjoy this.”

The Batman is now playing in theaters.

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