Robert Pattinson’s Smokey-eyed Bruce Wayne grabbed eyeballs in The Batman trailer but it’s Paul Dano’s Riddler who had all the ears with his political commentary.
The trailer for The Batman 2021 has fans swooning. An array of fan theories have emerged along with previous leaks. From solving Riddler’s puzzle, presence of The Court of Owls to Martha and Thomas Wayne’s connection to Gotham’s underworld – all the nitty-gritty has been speculated. But there are some clues in plain sight that in effect stage Paul Dano’s Riddler as the real protagonist of The Batman.
Watch: The Batman – DC FanDome Teaser | Warner Bros UK
Another thing certain from The Batman trailer is that it’s not portraying itself as the epic superhero movie of the moment. Now, that speaks volume about Warner Bros’ marketing strategy and Matt Reeves’ intentions. While Reeves approached The Batman with a noir ‘detective’ approach keeping in line comic influences like Batman: Year Two and Batman: Ego. He also spoke of taking inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock and movies like Chinatown, French Connection and Taxi Driver. The cocktail of influences points at Bruce Wayne’s dark and psychologically introspective melodrama.
The Batman’s Political Stance
One of the imperative conditions for Reeves’ to take up the project, once Ben Affleck exited the franchise, was that he’d be allowed to tell a story he felt was important. The Dawn Of The Planet Of Apes director admitted a political debate is always at the core when Batman deals with a billionaire who fights crime in his off time! Reeves recounted Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton’s similar work in a recent interview, he said,
Everybody has a particular take. For me, I knew that I would be coming into a history of some pretty great movies. And I didn’t want to just do a Batman film; I wanted to do a Batman film where I was allowed to explore the things that matter to me.Batman 2021 Director Matt Reeves in an interview with The Daily Beast
The Batman trailer further establishes the socio-political structure of Gotham and certainly has the noir touch to it. Meanwhile all eyes were on Robert Pattinson. The Batsuit, Bat mobile, Penguin’s ‘This guy is crazy’ remark and the sheer look of vengeance on Pattinson’s face – perfectly concocted the most anticipated Batman trailer.
Reeves stressed on the fact that his take will be as grounded in reality as possible dealing with real-world issues. During the DC FanDome, he explained, “Because the movie’s detective story and (is) about corruption, we’re treating it as if this Batman story could have happened. He doesn’t have superpowers, just super focus. Chinatown was a key movie for us.”
Riddle Me This
However, under all the Batman razzmatazz, Reeves hid the central idea of the movie very cleverly in Riddler’s puzzles! The Owl and skeleton glazed greeting card in the trailer had the first cypher for fans. “What does a liar do when he’s dead”, it asked. The Internet has deciphered that riddle successfully and the answer to it is, ‘it lies still.’
Watch: The Batman Trailer Breakdown! Riddler Clue Solved | New Rockstars
Paul Dano’s Riddler was seen duct taping his victim’s face in the trailer. Later, he crashes the victim’s funeral with another riddle for Batman to solve. The Riddler’s eerie voiceover says, “If you are justice, please do not lie, what is the price of your blind eye?” This puzzle leaves fans still guessing while some feel it is a reference to being ‘blind as a bat’ translating to Bruce Wayne figuring out his family’s connection to Gotham’s corruption. But it is still a long shot given the three movie story arch of the Batman and the fact that the trailer is fleshed out from a partially shot film.
Our take on Riddler’s plans for Batman
Nonetheless, Matt Reeves did stress on Riddler’s motivations without any spoilers. He said, “Paul Dano plays a version of the Riddler that no one has ever seen before… what he is doing is going to blow people’s minds.”
From the Batman trailer, it is clear that Riddler is drawing Batman’s attention towards the rich and corrupt of Gotham. He taunts Pattinson’s caped crusader in a similar fashion to how Heath Ledger’s Joker did with Bale’s Dark Knight. Clearly, in Year Two of Gotham when the caped crusader’s legend is still in making, Riddler is pitting the city against the Dark Knight and in a final voiceover, Bruce Wayne against Batman.
Reeves curiously gave Riddler a somewhat anti-hero kind of establishment. In a sense — how Joker was about making Gotham succumb to anarchy, Dano’s Riddler is about social justice. Riddler, at the character’s core, reflects the real-life class divides and distrust people have in establishments’ abilities to defend their rights.