How Matt Reeves Created The Perfect Antagonist Through Riddler?

Contemplating the ideas behind Matt Reeves’ masterpiece, “The Batman,” one can easily denote their submission to the film. With all the attention budding up for Robert Pattinson being Batman, comic book fans were stupendously excited about Riddler. Riddler is one of the arch enemies of Batman who has not been portrayed the way this character should have been.


We all know the bar that is set for the antagonist in the Batman franchise is very high. Even top actors with legendary acting talents performed with too much care and contrast while creating the crime world. With Christopher Nolan’s top-notch franchise, a mass doubted Matt Reaves’ vision towards depicting Batman. But, backed up by Warner Bros., Matt came up with a new idea escalating through the detective paradigm.

The Idea Behind Riddler

In his own words, Matt Reeves once said that his vision was to make the “World’s Greatest Detective” version of the story. He wanted to make it like “The Long Halloween,” where there is a serial killer roaming around. There comes the idea of the Riddler. Let us go through the world of the Riddler, created by Matt Reeves.


Right from the first scene, Riddler was portrayed as the shadow. Now, remember the scene where the mayor is watching the news? The light comes from the screen, and just behind the mayor, he stands in his own shadow. That is common physics. But, then comes the greatness of Matt Reeves. He establishes Riddler right behind the mayor, just where his shadow was founded. In the monologue, too, Batman introduced himself as the tool that works in the shadows.

So let’s sum up all the thoughts that went through in establishing the protagonist and the antagonist. Fear as a tool was well established in the minds of the criminals of Gotham by Batman. But what was different from Riddler’s portrayal was that the antagonist of the story emerges from the shadows. If the criminals, in general, feared the shadow, Batman could have easily used it against them. Herein lies the mastery of creating the perfect antagonist. Riddler, on the other hand, used the shadow against Batman.


This way, the antagonist disturbs the sole foundation of the protagonist. Hence, the protagonist drives with crazy beliefs and rigidity. Matt Reeves’ Riddler has an astounding connection with Batman himself, which is the prior interaction with the audience at large. Every time the scene is established for a face-off, the audience gets a chill, as this was not a fight between light and dark, but a fight between shadows in a darker alley. The Father’s Sins was probably the greatest mind trick used by Riddler in the story. This, too, again disrupts the foundation of what the protagonist believes.

In many ways, the Riddler establishes a different set of actions as a serial killer. The riddles, timings, and execution were all made with time and space. There was no rush in the screenplay. Establishing an antagonist, especially in a Batman movie, is more challenging than establishing the idea of the protagonist. Everyone expects a Batman movie to be darker than ever, and the protagonist should always leave a mark of his own. Paul Dano in Riddler also gave a significant amount of looks to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.


The Interrogation Scene

The set, the music, the light, and the occupancy are everything one needs to take care of while shooting the interrogation scene of a serial killer. Serial killers talk in ciphers and codes. Even the simplest of details, if missed, are lost forever. So, what did Matt Reeves do while making one of the most fearsome interrogation scenes ever?

The curtain rises. The director, or the narrator, starts playing with the minds of the audience. We all know what is there on that side of the curtain, but we still wait eagerly. Now there are close-ups and cut shots. The intensity of the scene gets to the pick as the voice scales of the characters objectively vary. In the beginning, Batman stays calm and applies a soothing voice, which portrays him as the man in charge. On the other hand, Riddler behaves like he has been the victim of all the misdoings of society.


What happens at the end? Just the opposite. The Riddler takes full charge of the interrogation room. Again, the protagonist loses his cool and shifts from domination to submission. Batman now submits his conscience to empathy while the Riddler dances around with shallowness in his core. The screaming, the loudness, but that’s not the end. There was thick glass between him and the Riddler. That was the law. Batman, being a vigilante, can’t touch the Riddler through the glass even if he wished too. So, in some ways, Matt Reeves’ foundation was so strong that the serial killer became the flagbearer of society and the protagonist was a victim.

The Riddler is by far one of the greatest characters ever created with a darker foundation. The scars given to him are so carefully established that in every scenario, the audience will see him in a position where he is not wrong. Also, it never dictates that whatever Batman is trying to protect isn’t worth protecting. In many ways, Matt Reeves’ The Batman deals with the evolution of Batman through his early days. His Batman makes mistakes and trusts unchallenged instincts, which lead him into tough situations.


On the other hand, the Riddler, at the same age as Batman, acts with more maturity and curates the perfect crime. It’s all about the composure each character is given, and at some point, Riddlers reside within Batmans. That was the perfect message delivered by one of the greatest Batman directors of our time.

Is Riddler The Greatest Villain Ever?

It will be a pretty emotion-driven statement. First of all, the Riddler in this film was given an origin story, which had more impact on the audience than Nolan’s Ben or Joker. If the ideologies of these characters are to be judged, Joker will still remain at the top. Riddler’s frustration can be used by a psychotic character like Joker, as shown in the final clips of Matt Reeves’ Batman. Riddler submits to empathy. The Joker stands apart from all of this just because his strength lies in denial. The Joker will never submit to anything apart from chaos. Every superhero has a weakness, including super-villains. But, the problem with Joker is he has no weakness. Some would argue about Harley Quinn, and it’s true, but between Harley Quinn and Chaos in Gotham, what will Joker choose? The answer’s quite simple, no?


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Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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