Paul Dano’s Riddler has one glaring flaw.
In The Batman, Paul Dano plays a very creepy serial killer who assassinates various officials in Gotham City. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable performance, from the heavy breathing that opens the film to the big one-on-one at Arkham Asylum that kicks off its final showdown. Dano is very convincing as a weirdo who has turned his Skid Row apartment into a conspiracy den, complete with newspaper articles stuck to the walls, newspapers filled with incomprehensible scribbles, and a pet bat. I totally bought him as the kind of untrained madman who would flawlessly execute ever more baroque assassination plans for mayor, district attorney, etc., but find nothing better for Bruce Wayne than a mailbomb. (Does he think Bruce Wayne opens his own mail?! May be if it is a Hot Topic package. If not, he has staff for that.)
I even enjoyed his numbers and riddles, which were all completely silly. But I bought it! The Riddler hangs out alone at his corner diner, sees everything as a conspiracy, and is a big poster child. Of course, he loves puzzles! The Riddler definitely tried Wordle once and ditched it for Octordle, which he still considers “a bit too easy”. His puzzles were properly cheesy and obscure: thanks to the Riddler, I’ll always remember it’s “the rata alada”, and not “he rata alada.
However, there is one aspect of Dano’s performance as Riddler that The Batman is absolutely, positively mistaken: his glasses. Sorry, but the Riddler wouldn’t wear those glasses.
Go on! He’s a weird misfit who wears unstyled parkas and declares himself Gotham’s Most Forgotten Man! Yet there he is, wearing nicely styled, chunky clear acrylic frames, the kind worn by a craft ax maker or the culture editor of a web magazine. They perfectly accentuate Dano’s owlish face, giving him the look of a trend-seeking social media manager. It is totally false! The Riddler didn’t buy Carltons by Warby Parker in “crystal”!
The Riddler is a filthy, depraved serial killer. He installed carpet on his hardwood floors, for God’s sake! He certainly doesn’t wear pretty fashion glasses. He’s either wearing rimless glasses with fingerprints all over the lenses, or maybe— if you go for an old-school pencil-collar vibe —Apollo 13 dark plastic engineer guy.
More likely, he’s not wearing glasses at all! For example, how does he see even when executing his complicated plans? The past two years have certainly taught me how quickly glasses fog up when I’m wearing a simple cloth mask. The Riddler’s entire head, meanwhile, is covered in vinyl. You think these Carltons don’t go opaque with steam the instant he puts them on, especially in a city like Gotham where it’s never it is not raining ? A film as devoted to gritty authenticity as The Batman should have included a scene where the despicable half-killer Riddler sighs, takes off his glasses, and wipes them on his shirt sleeve.
In conclusion, the Riddler shouldn’t wear nice, trendy glasses. The Riddler should wear a small eye mask that matches his neon green bodysuit in lycra dazzled question mark. Thank you.