The Riddler. Nygma. Nashton. Edward E. Nigma.

Just like the Caped Crusader, The Batman’s main villain goes by many names, and has had several incarnations throughout the years. From the classic green-suited look to Jim Carrey’s zany 1995 appearance, to Paul Dano’s chilling ‘Zodiac Killer’ aesthetic, there’s a thousand ways to portray Batman’s most cunning nemesis – all across the pages of 75 years worth of comics.

That said, the character’s latest concept is a stark departure from most versions we’ve seen in the past – just take a look at this exciting fan-made trailer that truly brings out what might be an all-time great Batman flick:

Terrifying, sadistic, and perhaps even righteous – here’s a look under the tortured visage of Paul Dano’s take on the classic Batman villian:

Entering The Riddler’s Mind

Paul Dano as The Riddler in The Batman (2022)

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Paul Dano recounts how shooting as The Riddler was incredibly taxing – especially from a psychological point of view. 

“There’s a sequence with Peter Sarsgaard’s character [Gotham district attorney Gil Colson]. That was intense,” said Dano – referring to a character that is seemingly tortured, hooked up to a remote bomb, and used as a messenger to both Gotham and the Batman. Yikes.

“There were some nights around that I probably didn’t sleep as well as I would’ve wanted to just because it was a little hard to come down from this character. It takes a lot of energy to get there. And so, you almost have to sustain it once you’re there because going up and down is kind of hard.”

Cloaked in Mystery

The Riddler Victim, The Batman (2022)

While donning the character’s twisted psychological makeup was challenging enough, Dano also recalled the very physical demands of becoming a detail-obsessed evil genius, hellbent on bringing down the Bat.

For instance, take the idea of covering The Riddler in plastic wrap from head to toe – ensuring that the villain leaves no traces at the scene of his many gruesome crimes. While the concept was pitched by Dano himself, he soon found it to be incredibly taxing to shoot this way – especially considering he was wearing layers of imposing gear on top as well.

“My head was just throbbing with heat,” he explained. “I went home that night, after the first full day in that, and I almost couldn’t sleep because I was scared of what was happening to my head. It was like compressed from the sweat and the heat and the lack of oxygen. It was a crazy feeling.”

Fortunately, the costume department swept in with some neat modifications to make it easier for Dano.

Gotham’s ‘Omnipresent’ Ghost

Robert Pattinson as Batman in The Batman (2022)

According to Dano, one of his main inspirations for the Riddler was, surprisingly, the Batman himself. “The Batman is born of trauma, right?” he said to Fandango earlier this February. “Bruce Wayne, losing his parents… and some people are able to take that and use it as fuel, and sometimes that fuel can lead towards something potentially good, and I think sometimes people take that fuel and it takes them.”

Dano explores the latter concept with great detail – praising Reeves’ script in the process. “The Riddler is omnipresent, but almost as a ghost,” said Reeves himself, speaking to IGN. “When I came up with the idea that the Riddler would be sending correspondence to Batman, [what] was captivating to me was if you’re a character whose mode is to work as a symbol, be anonymous, to come out of the shadows, nobody is supposed to know who you are; your power comes from the fact that you’re anonymous.”

The Riddler plays with this collapse like a specter in the shadows – giving even Bruce Wayne a reason to look behind his back, and fear for what comes next.

Playing a Terrifying ‘Puppet Master’

Paul Dano as The Riddler in The Batman (2022)

After years of observing The Riddler as a malicious prankster, Reeves’ terrifying vision for the character takes a sharp turn away – right into the darkest parts of Gotham City.

“I think this Riddler is more scary. I think the film is a little more terrifying because of the ‘reality’ that is there,” shares Dano with Extra, referring to the very real corruption, childhood trauma and abuse stories woven into Reeves’ version of the character. “I thought that was a bold take,” continues Dano. 

“Once we got there, you could kind of unload and release all that energy you’ve worked to build. Because he comes from probably a more torturesome past, the development starts there. And then you know, as an actor, you get to go have fun. And I will say that the power that that mask had, it was fun to be the puppet master.”

The Batman hits theaters on March 4, 2022.

(Featured Image Credits: Warner Bros. Entertainment)