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How Matt Reeves helped Paul Dano's Riddler: Year One comic come to life

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Paul Dano wants to solve the riddle of how his character in The Batman became... well, the Riddler.

The actor is launching a six-issue comic book series titled Riddler: Year One, in which he explores the origin story of Edward Nashton, whom he played in Matt Reeves' 2022 movie. Written by Dano with art by Stevan Subic, the story turns back the clock to uncover how an unassuming accountant went from being a nobody to Batman's nemesis.

"As an actor, one of the main ways that I approach my work is how do I get to page one of the script, meaning I do a lot of backstory work," Dano said when he stopped by EW's Comic-Con video suite on Friday. "And the hope is that you're bringing the life of the character with you somehow, and you're having the unconscious of the character at work as well when you're doing a scene. In this case with The Batman, I played Edward Nashton, the Riddler; a lot of the backstory I came up with was in the language of comics because I wanted to have that archetypal energy at work going towards the film."

The Batman
The Batman

Jonathan Olley/DC Comics/Warner Bros. Paul Dano as Edward Nashton a.k.a. the Riddler in 'The Batman.'

Dano revealed that a conversation with Reeves ultimately convinced him to do the comic. "One night, I was on set with Matt Reeves, our director, and I said, 'My backstory, I saw this image, and this image, and this image,' and he said, 'That should be a comic,'" recalled Dano. "I secretly had that in mind, that it could be. I don't know if I would have had the sand to go through with it, but the next day on set, Matt Reeves said, 'I spoke to DC; they want to talk to you.' And I said, 'Great'... Frankly, it's turned into a whole other thing, it's taken on a life of its own, and I think it's really cool."

After getting into the "horrific" mind of Nashton, Dano was inspired to dig even deeper into his trauma. "What I felt like I had to offer to this medium was to give something that almost felt autobiographical for the character as a Batman comic," he said. "I thought, can I bring some of that energy to this because I'm so in touch with this character? Can I bring something really psychological and emotional? On the surface, the plot is about corruption, and there is a plot-driven element, but underneath it, it's an emotional horror story about trauma."

Dano said he's still in the process of writing the series, which is set to launch in October, and called the experience of creating the comic book "totally incredible."

"I feel so lit up by it because I'm learning so much," he said. "To write something and have it be realized by a brilliant artist, it's amazing. It's really quite intense... To play more with the character that I spent so much time cultivating in this world of Gotham that I loved so much, as a comic book kid, it was a dream."

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