Paul Dano on The Batman’s Riddler: ‘It Was Fun To Be the Puppet Master’

The Batman rev-1-TBM-06166_High_Res_JPEG (Large) Jonathan Olley
Photo by Jonathan Olley / Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Riddler is a DC villain who has a love of riddles and puzzles. He’s definitely one of the most popular rivals to Batman since he’s been on the big screen in Batman Forever and on the small screen in Fox’s Gotham. In Matt Reeves’ The Batman, he’s played by Paul Dano, who channels a darker version of the villain. During a recent press junket, the actor talks about having fun playing the bad guy and the power of the Riddler’s mask.

“Well, it was really fun,” Dano tells Nerd Reactor about playing opposite Batman. “Once we got there, you could kind of unload and release all that energy you’ve worked to build. Because he comes from probably a more torturesome past, the development starts there. And then you know, as an actor, you get to go have fun. And I will say that the power that that mask had, it was fun to be the puppet master.”

The Batman rev-1-TBM-24555r_High_Res_JPEG (Large) Jonathan Olley
Photo by Jonathan Olley / Courtesy of Warner Bros.

James Gordon is a lieutenant for Gotham City Police Department, and he’s known to help out Batman here and there in the franchise. The police officer is played by Jeffrey Wright (HBO’s Westworld) and in the new movie, audiences will get to see him on the field with Batman where they’re reminiscent of “buddy cops.” Of course, a man dressed as a giant bat will get some weird looks and reactions in the public, and Wright talks about the “strangeness” of it.

“I absolutely loved that we kind of explored the strangeness of that, not only in terms of our relationship in the introduction to the two characters walking into this [crime scene] with which we’ve seen in the trailers,” Wright said. “But also I think that’s part of what Matt wanted to investigate as well with the character of Batman – is why. It’s a question that we haven’t necessarily seen asked in the same way, but we just make these assumptions. Well, this Batsuit is cool; this Batsuit represents strength and heroism. But I think we ask how does it get there. And it comes ultimately, as Paul described, from a fragility. It comes from a vulnerability that this suit that’s worn – this odd thing is a necessity for the birth of this hero. And I think that’s really, really wonderfully delicate stuff to play with, both in taking in the overall but also for me as Gordon playing opposite that, just wondering, ‘What exactly is going on here?’ And then placing faith in it.”

The Batman rev-1-TBM-38432r_High_Res_JPEG (Large) Jonathan Olley
Photo by Jonathan Olley / Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Batman features a few of the Dark Knight’s Rogues Gallery, but if the movie does get a sequel, fans can be sure to see more DC villains coming into the mix. Both actors talk about what they would like to see in the future.

“I can’t wait to see what Matt Reeves does,” Dano says about the future of The Batman. “I mean, I thought his point of view on this was so singular and surprising. I honestly don’t know what he would do with these other villains. And so just even as a fan, like, ‘What’s it gonna be? And how is he going to do it?’ So I don’t have one, but I want to see. I want to see more of his Batman.”

“Yeah, I don’t know if I could choose either,” Wright added. “And, again, I’m just curious what Matt has up his sleeve. Gordon is right on the money, he’s upright, he’s a citizen of rectitude, and all of that. But he’s also a citizen of a city decaying and fighting against that brings its own stuff. There may even be things within Gordon that are equally challenging for him as things outside of him. So I don’t know. Who knows what the man comes up with.”

About The Batman

Synopsis: Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.

When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.

The film is directed by Matt Reeves and written by Reeves and Peter Craig. It stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Alfred, Paul Dano as The Riddler, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, and Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon.

The Batman hits U.S. theaters on March 4, 2022 and international theaters on March 2, 2022.

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