Minor spoilers to follow.
Paul Dano as The Riddler
“If you are justice, please do not lie…What is the price of your blind eye?” - The Riddler
The Riddler is possibly one of Batman’s most notable villains in his Rogues Gallery. But while the character has received much praise and interest within the pages of the comic books and video games, his live-action appearances in the past have been somewhat lesser in appeal. It is hard to forget the campy 90s Batman Forever film that featured a Jim Carrey-portrayed Riddler in bright green tights and almost painfully Joker-like hysterics. Unfortunately, it is this depiction of the character that caused many fans to never take the Riddler as a serious threat to the inhabitants of Gotham City just because of his association with Carrey’s silliness.
That being said, the portrayal showcased by Paul Dano as the Riddler is a far cry and almost welcome departure from the campy version we got in Batman Forever. Dano’s Riddler is unhinged, brutal, and highly intelligent, always certain to come out one step ahead of the Gotham PD and, at times, even the Batman himself. The Riddler in the Matt Reeves’s film is one that can be seen as a sort of domestic terrorist, smart and cunning and menacing to the poor people of Gotham City.
Of course, it is obvious to any moviegoer that Dano’s version of the character borrows heavily from the likes of the serial killer John Doe from the movie Seven, a characterization that is well-known to outsmart the police and come out victorious in the execution of his grand scheme. This makes the character out to be a force to be reckoned with, one that audiences will certainly be well enthused to see returning in future installments of the Matt Reeves Batman-verse. Coupled together with the pitch-perfect casting of Paul Dano in the role, the Riddler is able to be a creepy first look into what is in store for The Batman now that the floodgates of the crazy Arkham Asylum residents have been opened to Gotham.
It was certainly the smart choice on Reeves’s part to have the Riddler be the first of Batman’s Rogues Gallery to be showcased in his film, as it has undoubtedly paved the way for the more crazier villains to come in the future for our viewing pleasure. The Riddler is just the right amount of intelligent and sophisticated villainy that a fresh Batman would have a tough time dealing with, ultimately preparing him for the chaos that will ensue once the worst of the worst of what Gotham has to offer eventually surfaces to cause their own shenanigans. The Riddler has most certainly opened up the Batman’s eyes to the kind of insanity that lurks in the dark corners of the city he watches over, and it is sincerely both frightening and exciting to think of the prospect of what is to come next.