‘The Batman’ Director Matt Reeves Reveals The Riddler’s Villain Plot, Says Film Is ‘Almost a Horror Movie’

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The curtain is finally pulling back on the highly anticipated Warner Bros. reboot “The Batman,” and co-writer and director Matt Reeves has something unexpected up his sleeve.

In a new cover story at Moviemaker Magazine, Reeves revealed what villain The Riddler’s (Paul Dano) dastardly plot entails, some of the specific filmic influences on the superhero adaptation and the variety of genres in which it traverses.

The redo introduces Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, but instead of telling an origin story, the film picks up a couple of years after Wayne first donned the cape and cowl. And for Reeves, front of mind was telling a genuine detective story. “This idea of a place that is corrupt, and you try to swim against the tide in order to fight against it and make a difference, is quintessential Batman,” Reeves said. “And at the center of those noir stories is almost always the detective, right? And that’s why he is the world’s greatest detective. And so this story is, in addition to being almost a horror movie, and a thriller, and an action movie, at its core, it’s also very much a detective story. It’s very narrative.”

While previous “Batman” directors have touted their films as detective stories, ultimately that turns out not to be the case. So while Pattinson was initially skeptical, he was won over after reading the script. “In the first meeting, he was saying, we want to lean into the ‘world’s greatest detective aspect,’ and be a detective noir movie,” Pattinson said. “And, you know, normally when directors say that, they just do like a mood board, and it’s just about the imagery. But I read the script, and it is! It’s a detective movie. It happens all the time in the graphic novels, but it’s always kind of on the backburner in the movies.”

So what is Batman detecting in “The Batman?” We know from the trailers that Dano’s The Riddler is enacting a series of crimes, leaving behind puzzles for Batman and James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to solve. And Reeves revealed to Moviemaker Magazine just what The Riddler is up to.

the-batman-riddler-paul-dano
Warner Bros.

“The premise of the movie is that the Riddler is kind of molded in an almost Zodiac Killer sort of mode, and is killing very prominent figures in Gotham, and they are the pillars of society,” Reeves revealed. “These are supposedly legitimate figures. It begins with the mayor, and then it escalates from there. And in the wake of the murders, he reveals the ways in which these people were not everything they said they were, and you start to realize there’s some kind of association. And so just like Woodward and Bernstein, you’ve got Gordon and Batman trying to follow the clues to try and make sense of this thing in a classic kind-of-detective story way.”

Throughout the cover story, Reeves and cast members like Zoe Kravitz and Colin Farrell cited a number of 1970s films as inspiration: “All the President’s Men,” “Klute,” “Chinatown,” and even “The Godfather Part II.” The latter film was a touchstone for Farrell’s Penguin, whom he likens to the Fredo character.

There are no doubt plenty more mysteries to be found inside “The Batman,” but for now these comments only serve to further anticipation for the film. Warner Bros. will release the picture exclusively in theaters on March 4.