Matt Reeves’ take on the Caped Crusader is still nearly a year away from hitting theaters upon its March 4, 2022 release date. The film was among those hardest hit by the pandemic, suffering numerous production delays and premiere reschedulings. Batman himself, Robert Pattinson, was even widely reported to have tested positive for Covid, though neither the actor nor Warner Bros. ever explicitly confirmed it.
“The Batman” is a shoe-in to be one of the most hotly anticipated films of 2022. Indeed, fans are eager to see Pattinson’s take on one of the most notable roles in film. However, it’s the Rogue’s Gallery of villains, including Paul Dano’s Riddler, that takes the level of anticipation to eleven.
When Reeves dropped the first official trailer in August 2020, it revealed the gritty, ominous tone of the film as a whole. In the same vein, the character of Riddler is seen in the very first shot to be far darker and far less animated than in prior portrayals. Beginning in the Silver Age of comics in the ’60s, through to Jim Carrey’s portrayal in 1995’s Batman Forever, Riddler has always been a gregarious, over-the-top jokester.
In contrast, Dano’s Riddler appears to stand in stark contrast. The trailer shows the character to be entirely clad in what can be described as a protective bioweapon suit. He is in the act of wrapping the head of a corpse in duct tape. A subsequent shot reveals the words “No More Lies” written on the duct tape covering the victim’s face.
The development of the character serves a greater purpose than the now-common tactic of simply repackaging legacy roles in a darker light. With Riddler being more of a villainous puzzle maker confronting Bruce Wayne with deadly challenges, it forces Wayne, i.e. Batman, to serve as more of a detective than simply a fighter of criminals.
That also places a greater emphasis on story rather than action, which is where other superhero films often stumble. But not Reeves, and in this case, not “The Batman,” either.