Warning: the article contains spoilers for The Batman.
The Batman director Matt Reeves is addressing how far back into Riddler’s personal history his plan to take down Gotham’s elite began to germinate.
One thing the Paul Dano character Edward Nashton is great at highlighting, compared to past Batman films, is how the caped crusader actually influenced Gotham’s supervillains to come out of the shadows.
From here on out, this article contains spoilers for The Batman.
The events of the film take place two years into Bruce Wayne’s attempt to clean up the streets in his vigilante persona, but as he says in an opening monologue, he is fighting a losing battle — crime has continued to climb.
“There’s so many comics where you see that the Rogue Gallery creates themselves in response to this appearance of this masked vigilante called Batman in Gotham,” Reeves told Collider. “And so, he’s sort of, in a certain way, inspired by the presence of this vigilante and that’s happened within the last two years.”
Though Reeves didn’t give an exact time stamp of when Edward first started making the blueprints so that everything falls into place like dominos — from the murder of the mayor, to the flooding of the city — it’s evident he became emboldened to carry out the deeds sometime in the last couple of years, at least.
Reeves went on to say Edward’s motivations stem from his horrible childhood as an orphan who was supposed to be well-looked after by a Wayne-backed fund for such charitable causes. Rather than being loved and cared for, however, Edward’s fingertips were gnawed at by rats as he slept in the overcrowded orphanage, as he explains in the film.
When Edward, working as a forensic accountant, stumbles upon the paper trail that confirms that Thomas Wayne’s Renewal Fund was nothing more than a slush fund for the mob to launder money, that’s when he truly starts to hatch the plan in his mind.
“But his plan and the idea that he could somehow use what he had discovered as a forensic accountant [came to be] when that word renewal came across his desk,” Reeves explained.
“It wasn’t even on his desk. He looked across and saw something that haunted him from his childhood. And suddenly, because his one strength … He’s not like Batman, who sort of works on himself physically so that he can become very powerful and can endure, and he can take almost anything, but [Edward] is that way mentally. And when he sees the patterns of things, it starts to make sense of his life.”
Reeves went on to say that Edward’s unravelling of the illegitimate Renewal Fund “has probably taken place over the last couple of years and that the presence of Batman caused him to see a way that he might be able to reveal the truth, in a brutal way, about this city.”
The director said that he and Dano hashed out Edward’s backstory together — of coming across the evidence of corruption and studying it in secret, forensically.
“[H]e’s kind of trying to take Batman on that same path and expose the depth of corruption of this place,” Reeves said.
The Batman is in theaters now.