The Batman director Matt Reeves explains why Paul Dano’s Riddler wasn’t designed to be a villain and why the actor was the right man for the job.
The Riddler may be one of the most famous members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, but director and co-writer Matt Reeves doesn’t want audiences to consider the character as purely a villain in The Batman.
Reeves points to actor Paul Dano’s performance as Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson in the 2014 film Love & Mercy As not only inspiration for the casting but also the tone he was aiming for. “That character, he’s caught up in his artistry and he struggles to communicate with those around him,” Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter. “That was spiritually connected to the idea of this isolation that the Riddler felt. The Riddler is a product of our time, the way that people become isolated online and retreat to mental activities that substitute for not having contact.”
This makes the Riddler a very human and relatable character, and Reeves thought Dano had the right qualities to play him. “Paul is just off-center in a way that makes him very relatable,” Reeves said. “I didn’t want this character to be a villain. Even in his darkness, I wanted to see that humanity.”
Love & Mercy centers on Brian Wilson’s life in the 1960s and 1980s, with Dano playing the younger version and John Cusack the elder. The scenes set in the ’60s with Dano deal with Wilson’s criticaling mental health as his commercial and success begins to skyrocket.
Although Reeves wants his Riddler to be seen as more than just a villain, he did take inspiration from a real-life serial killer for aspects of the character. “The premise of the movie is that the Riddler is kind of molded in an almost Zodiac Killer sort of mode and is killing very prominent figures in Gotham, and they are the pillars of society,” Reeves said in a recent interview. “Among the people targeted by the Riddler is the Mayor of Gotham, and the series of high-profile murders leads to”[Lieutenant James] Gordon and Batman trying to follow the clues to try and make sense of this thing in a classic kind-of-detective story way.”
Lead actor Robert Pattinson may not have known of Batman’s status as the world’s greatest detective before The Batman, but he says the movie plays into it more than other live-action movies have. “It’s a detective movie,” the actor said. “It happens all the time in the graphic novels, but it’s always kind of on the backburner in the movies.”
You can see Paul Dano as the Riddler when The Batman releases in theaters March 4.
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Source: The Hollywood Reporter
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