Matt Reeves Reveals His Riddler’s Zodiac Killer Inspiration for THE BATMAN

When fans first saw the full image of Paul Dano’s Riddler in The Batman, many gasped in shock. Where’s the fedora? Or the green leotard and domino mask from the comics? However, those of us looking at the official photo as true-crime aficionados? We recognized Edward Nygma’s look as possibly drawing inspiration from the real-life Zodiac killer.

The Zodiac terrorized Northern California in the late ’60s—a killer who authorities never apprehended. One survivor described an outfit he wore, thus making it the only visual representation we have of him. And according to The Batman director Matt Reeves, the infamous serial killer indeed served as the inspiration for this take on the classic Batman rogue. Here’s what he had to say, in an interview with Moviemaker (via IGN):

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. These are supposedly legitimate figures. It begins with the mayor, and then it escalates from there.

Paul Dano's full Riddler costume from The Batman.
Warner Bros.

Reeves added that this Dark Knight adventure is very much in the vein of a horror movie. Although, it’s rated PG-13, so don’t expect a lot of blood here. But one doesn’t need to see all that to be disturbing. Let us not forget, Nolan’s The Dark Knight is pretty hardcore too. And it also has a PG-13 rating. Reeves said, “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.”

Paul Dano's Riddler prepares for the kill in a scene from The Batman.
Warner Bros.

Almost all the previous Batman live-action films skimmed over the detective aspects, in favor of big action set pieces. But the Caped Crusader was born in the pages of Detective Comics. And the term “the Dark Knight” originates from the longer “Dark Knight Detective.” We’re glad someone on the movie side is finally acknowledging that on film. And we think Robert Pattinson has the right stuff to do the whole emo Sherlock Holmes thing.

The Batman releases in theaters on March 4.

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