‘The Batman’: Matt Reeves Reveals the Inspiration for His ‘Horrifying Version of the Riddler’

For his upcoming DC superhero movie, The Batman, Matt Reeves introduces a version of the Riddler fans have never seen on-screen before. The filmmaker recently opened up about the inspiration behind his villain and why he wrote the Robert Pattinson movie as a crime thriller.

Paul Dano as The Riddler in Matt Reeves' 'The Batman'
Paul Dano as The Riddler in Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’ | DC Comics

Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’ is a detective story

In the world of DC Comics, Batman is known as the World’s Greatest Detective. So, for his telling, Reeves chose to explore the investigative aspect of the Caped Crusader’s story

“I wanted to do a Batman story where he was already Batman, but he still was in early days, had to find a way to sort of really evolve,” Reeves said at a press event via Collider. “I wanted to do a story that the investigation of this particular mystery would lead him back to something very personal and would rock him to his core.”

The Batman, which stars Pattinson as the titular superhero, picks up with Bruce Wayne in his second year as a vigilante crime fighter. The film also stars Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman; Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon; and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth.  Paul Dano and Colin Farrell take on the roles of the infamous Batman villains, The Riddler and The Penguin. 

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Matt Reeves reveals his inspiration for the terrifying version of the Riddler fans will see in ‘The Batman’

From The Batman trailers, it looks like the Riddler will play a central role in Bruce’s investigation and become the target of his vengeance. But remarkably, the character looks nothing like previous on-screen iterations. 

Frank Gorshin, John Astin, and Jim Carrey’s versions were clown-like. But for The Batman, Reeves revealed he took inspiration for the villain from serious killers. 

“Knowing that I wanted to do that kind of thing, I started sort of, from Long Halloween, I was thinking about the sort of Calendar Man and the idea of the different sort of killings,” he said as reported by Collider. “Then this idea came to me, and I thought, well, we do a thing where at these crimes, there’s correspondence left for the Batman.”

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“I thought, wow, that actually sounds like a horrifying version of the Riddler,” Reeves continued. “Because he was leaving all these puzzles. So the Riddler was part of the conception very early on in trying to figure out which of the Rogues Gallery characters would communicate in that way with Batman.”

‘The Batman’ star Paul Dano says his Riddler identifies as a vigilante

In most of the Riddler’s on-screen interactions, the villain’s motives seemed chaos-based, like he was just causing trouble for Batman with no real need for justice. But according to Paul Dano, his version of the character is motivated by his own trauma and quest for vengeance. 

“The Batman is born of trauma, right?” Dano told Fandango. “Bruce Wayne, losing his parents… and some people are able to take that and use it as fuel, and sometimes that fuel can lead towards something potentially good, and I think sometimes people take that fuel and it takes them.”

“I guess I was really interested in the mask and the idea that a vigilante in our world… we often can see what we want to see,” The Batman star added. “And even though to a lot of people The Batman stands for good, I can tell you that the eyes — my character saw him representing exactly what I wanted to, as a great source of inspiration and power.”

The Batman release date is March 4, 2022. 

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