The Riddler has long been one of the more malleable members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery. In comics, film, and TV, he’s ranged from a B-grade Joker, a tragic figure haunted by his compulsions, and even (briefly) a hero in his own right. The Batman‘s Edward Nashton looks set to add to that, with Paul Dano playing a terrifying-looking character who knows Gotham’s darkest secrets.
Dano is a magnetic actor, though fans are wondering why his face has been kept under wraps in all the trailers and production stills, leading many to suspect there’s more to him than meets the eye. Now, we have a slightly better idea courtesy of newly released tie-in book Before the Batman: An Original Movie Novel, which bills itself as revealing the road that led to Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl.
Diving into the past, it’s come to light that Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne and Dano’s Nashton were once friends, bonding over the fact they’re both orphans who possess fierce intellects. The book’s story follows the latter beyond high school, where we learn he’s now obsessed with puzzles and music, a fascination that earns him the nickname “Ed-weird”.
Though he’s intelligent and hard-working, Nashton begins to resent Wayne for having his wealth handed to him on a silver platter. Along the way, he also becomes attracted to forensic accounting, considering it akin to solving a particularly complex puzzle, all while his obsession with Gotham’s most famous son grows ever more malignant.
This gives us a couple of clues as to what the Riddler is up to. A knack for forensic accounting and a focus on the Waynes has the potential to unearth some skeletons in their closet, exposing what their wealth is really built on. In the trailers, Nashton seems to be on a homicidal crusade to expose corruption among Gotham’s elite, so perhaps he has the right goal but the wrong method?
With inspiration from the unsolved Zodiac murders thrown into the mix, Dano’s interpretation has the potential to rework the Riddler into something truly terrifying.
We’ll find out what that is soon enough, as The Batman hits theaters in less than a month on March 4.