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How The Batman’s Production Shutdown Affected A Key Riddler Scene For Paul Dano

This story will contain spoilers for The Batman, so stop reading now if you do not want to know major things that happen in the comic book adaptation.

By the time we reach the end of Matt Reeves’ comic book thriller The Batman, our caped hero (Robert Pattinson) has helped to land The Riddler (Paul Dano) in Arkham Asylum, where the puzzle maker learns that Batman wasn’t, in fact, working alongside the Gotham terrorist, and the two aren’t literal partners in crime. Their confrontation, which takes nearly two hours of runtime to reach, feels like it was meant to be this film’s version of the interrogation-room scene between Joker (Heath Ledger) and Batman (Christian Bale) in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. But COVID complications really disrupted this pivotal scene, from the way that Dano explains it to CinemaBlend. 

The Batman was one of several high-profile blockbusters that had their production schedules delayed thanks to the shutdowns that accompanied the global spread of the COVID-19 virus. Obviously, production eventually was able to resume, but not before it disrupted Paul Dano’s preparation for what he knew was going to be a significant scene in the movie. As the Riddler actor told us during an exclusive interview for The Batman:

It was originally meant to be towards the very end of the shoot, and then we had to shut down production for about five months. Which I was sad about partially because, frankly, that scene meant so much to me. And thanks for that. But you’re hoping for some accrual of energy over time going towards that destination. So to have that break was interesting. But then we came back, and then (the scene) was early when we came back because it was isolated. We were one of the first major productions back. So we actually started with a bunch of Riddler stuff because it was kind of isolated. And with the COVID stuff, we were kind of dipping our toes back in.

Having never acted in anything, I can only imagine the difficulty of putting yourself in the headspace of a complicated antagonist like The Riddler, who is inspired by The Zodiac Killer, and waiting to get to THE scene in the script that allows you to communicate all that makes this person up… and then your job shuts down for months and you lose that momentum. To me, Paul Dano got right back to where he needed to be in order to deliver his full impact in that scene, and he gives one of the best depictions of The Riddler committed to screen. I wonder if Paul Dano thinks it was worth losing sleep in order to excel in the role?

Even if Matt Reeves wanted to keep Riddler in Arkham for the inevitable sequel, he seemed to be teasing two more villains for Batman 2, so we could see them stepping into the Gotham shadows for a shot at the Bat. Personally, I thought Reeves was establishing a Robin for his universe, but the director shot my theory down. While we wait for news on a sequel to The Batman, scan this list of upcoming DC movies to see what else is in the pipeline for the studio.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.