The Batman Reveals Tragic Backstory of Paul Dano's Riddler

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Batman Movie, Riddler Poster

The DC Extended Universe will make its long-awaited return to theaters in March 2022 with Matt Reeves' The Batman. Robert Pattinson's new take on the Caped Crusader is set to employ a Year One-style story where he will come face-to-face with a trio of classic villains from DC Comics. Leading the way in that villainous effort will be Paul Dano's Riddler, who remains a mystery even with just a few weeks until his debut.

Throughout Warner Bros.' promotional tour for The Batman, fans still haven't gotten an actual shot of Dano's Riddler in footage from the movie itself. The solo movie's synopsis has only minorly teased the villain's presence in the plot, and there are still no signs pointing to how he will come into play alongside Carmine Falcone, the Penguin, and Catwoman.

The best look fans have had at the Riddler is through various promotional posters featuring other heroes and villains along with plenty of question marks coming in various imagery. Now, viewers may have the best insight yet into the Riddler thanks to a new tie-in novel that shares details about The Batman's heroes and villains.

The Riddler's Origin Story In The Batman

Batman, Riddler

In anticipation of the March 2022 release of The Batman, Random House has published "Before the Batman: An Original Movie Novel (The Batman)," a children's middle-grade book that dives into Bruce Wayne's early years. The Direct got our hands on the novel, which offers new details on the tragic origin story for Paul Dano's Riddler before his on-screen appearance.

First going by the name of Edward Nashton, the book teases his beginnings alongside Batman in high school as he sang in the school choir. The story now picks up seven years after the two graduated high school, and Nashton has given up his musical passion in favor of tackling more puzzle-based challenges.

The story revealed that Nashton "always carried a book of crosswords or other puzzles" around the halls with him, and he would always work on them in his time alone. This led to some major bullying from other orphans, who would call him names such as "Ed-weird."

The future villain winds up working a food delivery job that takes him all over town to stay busy. Walking in and out of the orphanage to work every day, he also sees an image of Thomas Wayne alongside his wife Martha and their son Bruce, leading Edward to grow immensely jealous of the future Caped Crusader.

Also noted is how Nashton's fellow orphans would "joke about how rich Bruce was," even giving the codename "Bruce" to anyone they felt was overly spoiled.

Nashton put forth his best effort to save enough money to take care of himself. For a career, he “planned to study forensic accounting” due to the fact that “it sounded like solving puzzles." Through all this, though, he couldn't stop "thinking about that lucky rich kid, Bruce Wayne" as he pushed forward to make his own way.

Bruce Wayne's History With The Riddler

Batman is no stranger to villains who have a deep personal connection with him, a la Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins or even Jim Carrey's Riddler from Batman Forever. Now, The Batman is looking to take those ties even deeper, with Bruce Wayne and Edward Nashton having a life together seemingly long before they become a hero and a villain.

Considering how tough Dano's Riddler's life is as he's introduced in the movie, the jealousy towards someone like Bruce Wayne seems like a natural plot point to tackle. It makes sense seeing how manipulative the villain is in torturing Batman psychologically throughout the plot, although more details about that battle likely won't be revealed until the film debuts.

It's unknown how much of this story from the tie-in book will actually be shown in the movie, although there's a chance that it will see some screen time with the Riddler being the main villain. In a Batman movie with nearly three hours of runtime, Dano will have plenty of opportunities to show his backstory and power in his current villainous state.

The Batman will debut in theaters on March 4, 2022.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.