If you think The Riddler and still see Jim Carrey’s green spandex – and, indeed, spangles – it’s time to adjust your expectations. In Matt ReevesThe Batman, the villain has a very different and much more sinister outlook on life. Paul Dano’s Riddler poses a far more serious threat than the giggling crossword enthusiast we’ve seen before – and in the upcoming new issue of Empire, on sale Thursday 23 December, we spoke to the actor himself on the forces that shaped his most menacing of villains.

While Reeves has spoken about basing the character somewhat on the Zodiac Killer – who taunted the police with coded letters about his crimes even as his spree continued – for Dano, that’s only a starting point. “I liked how both grounded and big this film is at the same time,” Dano tells Empire. “So there are some grounding forces like the Zodiac Killer, right? But it’s still The Batman, and for me it’s much bigger, so it was important to let my imagination react to the script, rather than strictly basing it on a serial killer.”

That balance of the grounded and the theatrical (again, not in a Carrey-Riddler sense) can be seen in the new costume – which, as Empire points out, looks somewhat homemade. “The costume was very intense,” says Dano. “I think the potential DIY element you’re talking about was actually scarier to me than the more sophisticated or composed designs we might have played with. I found working with the costume to be very powerful. When you put on something like that, there’s a way to let it speak to you, and tell your body something. There’s a way to let it have a life of its own.”

Empire – February 2022 – The Batman covers

To read more about The Batman and keep you going until the film opens on March 4, pick up Empire’s world-exclusive The Batman issue – talking to director Matt Reeves, stars Robert Pattison, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell and Dano, and producer Dylan Clark about their radical reinvention of the Caped Crusader. Find it on shelves from Thursday 23 December, or pre-order a copy here.

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