In Matt Reeves' The Batman, Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne, who is younger and less experienced, learns the value of finding light in his never-ending dark quest. This is a different perspective on the Dark Knight. Paul Dano, playing a more sinister version of the Riddler, stood in opposition to him in the movie. The movie introduced a drastically different depiction of the Joker with a dismal and unsettlingly realistic worldview—a silently deranged murderer with a motivation unexpectedly similar to Batman himself.
With the upcoming limited series, Riddler: Year One, which premieres on October 15, Dano is now going deeper into the role and the incidents that helped define him as the Riddler. Paul Dano talked about the challenges of telling the Riddler's narrative as the main character in a comic book during a virtual roundtable chat with members of the media, including CBR. He also discussed how the limited series subtly acts as a spiritual prologue to The Batman.
The title of the story, Riddler: Year One, alludes to one of the most lauded Batman stories of all time, lending it gravity. The actor admitted that he was at first uneasy about the distinction. "Favorite comic book for me is Batman: Year One. According to Matt Reeve's script, it states "The Batman" and "Year Two Story" underneath that. He frequently discussed [The Batman] as being around the second year of Batman's [career] in press interviews. Do I sense any pressure? No and yes. No, not just Batman comics, but one of the best comics ever. What do you do then? In light of The Batman, it just seemed appropriate. The title is catchy. Evidently, there have been further "Years One. I don't believe I am as familiar with those.
Stevan Subic, who is making his DC debut with Riddler: Year One, wasn't Dano's initial inspiration for the book's artwork, he admitted. According to Dano, when he first began working on the project, "DC sent me a large number of artists to peruse. I came across something from Subic and thought, "That's interesting." But I didn't feel that it was appropriate for this. I continued to scan a few other persons. When I returned, I questioned, "Does that guy have any more samples?" Sure enough, he had a Batman picture that I adored. It seemed like the perfect thing for Edward to hang on his wall."
"I was happy that [Subic] hadn't published a comic in the US. Finding someone who was willing to cooperate and work on this project with me gave me the impression that his work have some emotional heft. I simply received the impression that he spoke. He has proven to be an excellent teammate. We collaborate really closely. I have no idea how other authors and painters manage it. But I think our relationship is kind of strong and positive. I adore his art and am so proud of him. That he will get to share it excites me."
When compared to other portrayals of the villain in other media, Dano's portrayal of the Riddler in The Batman was a serious and almost reserved depiction of the character. Dano was able to go further into his psyche with the help of comics, which allowed him to do so in a way that even film cannot properly depict. " This idea was always intended to be a comic. Never once did it seem like it belonged in a movie or TV show. I believe this is so because the media provides a fun way to deal with internal dialogue. I wouldn't want to watch a movie with two hours of voiceover, and I believe that as the comic progresses, there will be more Dostoevsky-like elements in Edward's thoughts and internal monologue. It was exciting and always felt right to share something that seemed so personal but also so iconic. I adore comic books because of the visuals' primal quality."
Dano acknowledged that he had both written and acted the part "I have to find a way in as an actor. I believe my curiosity in nature versus nurture has always existed. Given that this story and character are about the sick and corrupt city of Gotham, I believe that a certain aspect of them had to be nurtured. The first discussion [director Matt Reeves] and I had about the role in The Batman was about the trauma's two aspects. So I've always thought of this as a horror story about trauma that is also quite emotional. Although it begins sympathetically, what's intriguing for me as a writer today is that I had to actually step out of the subjectivity and gain a bit more perspective from above. I knew I would begin the comic inside of his head on page one in order to sort of trace for the viewer the non-sympathetic component of it, which I think comes to emerge more and more."
His interpretation of the Riddler, a man who starts the series as an ordinary citizen with a dark edge but is already obviously on the path that will convert him into one of Batman's most formidable opponents, was inspired by this mental study. "I understood that he had to want to live for me to. I might be mistaken. He couldn't just have been born this way and a psychopath; it couldn't just be nature. How does nature meet nurture has to be the question. Games, riddles, and puzzles may have been the only constructive criticism he has ever received in his whole life, in my opinion. If anything, I hope it turns out to be a lesson learned."
"The Batman finds a happy ending. Unfortunately, we can kind of predict where he's heading with this. In addition to exploring the subjective point of view through the technique of being inside that person's head or with his thoughts, I thought it would be interesting to examine how the trauma propelled that individual ahead and over the edge. Since I developed a lot of backstory for the role, I've been very curious to see how the plot has developed. However, this comic must stand on its own two feet and be its own entity; it cannot merely serve the purposes of the movie."
"The reader should have their own experience, in my opinion. Therefore, it has been extremely intriguing to watch it develop into that plot and hang more of the emotional work I had done in the backstory. Riddles are difficult to write, although I'm not sure if I should confess that. That is undoubtedly one of the more difficult components of this. The fact that he might receive encouragement from finishing a game, puzzle, or riddle is, in my opinion, the main factor. It serves as his anchor. The only thing that can distract him from his thoughts is that. Therefore, in my opinion, that viewpoint is the first action you see in issue one. I believe something sort of unlocks in the second half of the series."
"To get to page one, I work very hard on the backstory, just some bringing that alive with me. As an actor, it does become externalised in some ways because that's what has an effect on your voice and body. It has been a significant learning curve in a very positive way. When I'm challenged and learning, that's when I'm happiest. As a result, even if internal monologue plays a significant role in this, I believe that component has evolved as comics discover new ways to communicate stories through action and picture rather than only through internal monologue."
Edward's internet presence is one of the comic's most interesting lines of connection to the movie. In The Batman, the Riddler uses the internet to recruit followers and as a weapon. Edward is but one of the faces in a never-ending sea of internet avatars during the events of the prequel comic. Dano stressed the value of considering how the actual world's digital environment is evolving.
"I believe that this is the tale of our recent era, one that will be told in a variety of contexts and with reference to a wide range of aspects of our lives. I believe that technology has advanced beyond our ability to fully comprehend it and its effects on society. Even the topic of radicalization need not be the only consideration. However, I believe there has been a lasting change in geography. I believe Edward is a kind-hearted man. I believe he is on the verge of breaking because he has battled and is upset. He has a very poor sense of himself."
"The antithesis of the revenge to hope arc depicted in The Batman might be seen in Riddler: Year One. It's a fascinating and perverse adventure. Although to the reader he appears to be losing ground, it fact appears that he is gaining power. Being the protagonist and the primary character, that is one of the major problems. The Riddler is him. As a result, I believe that the comic's trick is to start with him in that position before turning. The hope is for that. When he is at his weakest, he is most sympathetic, and when he is at his greatest, he is the most terrifying because he is the most ill and unhealthy."