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The Batman’s Matt Reeves Reveals The Dark, Real-Life Influence Behind Paul Dano’s Riddler

Paul Dano as The Riddler in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The more fans hear about Matt Reeves’ The Batman, the more intriguing it sounds. From recent hints that it will explore a new side of Bruce Wayne, to a shocking run time, the latest entry into the pantheon of movies about the Caped Crusader is sure to get fans talking. Now, the writer-director has revealed that there’s an especially dark real-life inspiration behind Paul Dano’s Riddler – and that clue may tell us even more about what to expect. 

Leaving behind puzzles and clues for the Dark Knight is par for the course where The Riddler is concerned. But the glimpses we’ve seen of Paul Dano’s portrayal in The Batman trailer seems to be much more subtle, sinister, and much darker than those who’ve come before him (like, for example, Jim Carrey, who we recently saw doesn’t quite fit into the film's aesthetic.) It also seems to indicate that his villainous acts have a huge impact in Gotham City – which lines up with what Matt Reeves said in a recent conversation with

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. These are supposedly legitimate figures. It begins with the mayor, and then it escalates from there. And in the wake of the murders, he reveals the ways in which these people were not everything they said they were, and you start to realize there’s some kind of association.

Likening your Batman villain to one of the most infamous serial killers of all time is a big statement to make. As we saw in David Fincher’s moody 2007 thriller, the Zodiac Killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay area for years, killing seemingly at random, leaving confusing cyphers behind as the only clue to his identity. Given what we’ve seen so far from The Batman’s trailers, though, the comparison may hold up. Only in this case, the mysterious riddles he leaves behind are tied to a much more deliberate string of murders – and ones with seemingly huge implications for the power structure in Gotham City. 

This new information about The Riddler makes the film's premise even more exciting. We already know, thanks to Robert Pattinson, that we may be looking at a version of Bruce Wayne who is situated in the gray area between hero and antihero – which begs the question as to why he may be one of The Riddler’s targets. 

At nearly three hours long, The Batman should give us more than enough time to explore this new vision of these legendary characters, and to see just how much physical and psychological damage they can do to each other. It opens in theaters on March 4.