How Paul Dano Created The Batman Villain Origin Story (Exclusive)

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Paul Dano, the actor who played the hair-raising villain of the batterEdward Nashton/The Riddler, alive in the Matt Reeves film, would delve into the character’s origins by writing a prequel comic, The riddle: the first year. That comic, featuring art by artist Stevan Subic in his American comic book debut, hits shelves on October 25 and is a bit of a unique situation with the live action actor shifting gears to write an original story. Speak with ComicBook.comDano explained how the opportunity to explore Edward Nashton and his development into The Riddler came about and it turned out it was a natural extension of the work he did preparing for the batter.

Dano explained to us in an exclusive interview that building a backstory for his characters is part of his process as an actor — and when it came to Nashton, it came out as something that felt very much like a comic book.

“Yeah, so one of the important steps I take as an actor is to create a backstory. It takes a lot of work to get to page one of the script so that you carry the life that, in this case, that character Edward had lived in your body and in your unconscious as best he could,” Dano said. “And that’s kind of how you could help build the physicality, and the voice, and blah, blah, blah. And Matt Reeves is also a very thorough writer, and we got along really well because of that. And I spoke to him on set one night at Edward’s apartment. I said, it’s funny. Something about, I can’t remember, but I was kind of thinking about this, my backstory and this image and this image. And I sort of cultivated it in the archetypal language of comics, because that’s where the character comes from anyway, so I just mean, I had important images in my head. Boom, boom, boom in my head. And he said, “That should be a comic.” “

He continued: “And I thought, ‘Yeah, I think it could.’ I thought that in my head, but I don’t think I would have offered it alone. And then, I think, literally the next day he said, ‘I emailed or called you Jim Lee and should talk to DC.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’ And then I did, and they loved the idea and the backstory that I had And then it was one of those really good ones, like, oh, shit, now I really have to do this. But also very excited and this is real cool. And then I started. It’s now become its own thing. So its genesis is the backstory that I’ve worked with as an actor, but it also has to be a story that stands on its own two feet for a comic reader, and not only serving the movie. So, it has to do both. So now it’s really turned into, it’s taken its own life.”

But while his backstory for Nashton took comic book form — and, in turn, his own life — may have been a little unexpected, as a reader and fan, Dano is no stranger to comics. He explained that he has been a fan of comics and graphic novels for a long time and that this only intensified when he started writing. The riddle: the first year.

“As a kid I was a fan of comics. And when I grew up, I read some of the great graphic novels. I wouldn’t say I was a comic nerd or anything. I am now,” Dano said. “When I Had To Prepare For” the batter, I read a lot of Batman comics. Not just thrillers, really just to soak up Gotham, the history, the kind of archetypal energy that’s in all these comics. And I just loved them. It was like a door opened and I thought, oh, I haven’t been in this amazing room in a while. And I was just so surprised how much I loved doing The Batman as a whole. Including the comics.”

He also said his newfound involvement in the comic book medium also makes him very lucky to get to try his hand and feels that what he’s created with the artists involved feels like “a full meal.”

“And I popped up about comics pretty quickly before I knew I was going to write the comic,” Dano said. “Even if I was reading books about comics, I just got really into it, and I was reading Scot McGlasson and Grant Morrison, Supergods, and this was all before I wrote the comic. All of a sudden I was just really involved with the medium again. So yeah “It’s real, I mean, I’ve also been really lucky that I get a chance to do this and they let me. It’s a very involved process. My artists and I have a super intense collaboration and we have a lot in this So it really feels like it’s a full meal.”

This is how DC describes: The riddle: the first year: “As depicted in Matt Reeves’ hit movie the batter, the Riddler was not only a funny eccentric with an affinity for puns and mind-boggling clues, but just as terrifying a villain as in the annals of the Dark Knight. Here you can watch Edward Nashton evolve into the menace known as the Riddler. How did an unknown forensic accountant discover the dark secrets of Gotham’s underworld and come so close to taking down the entire city? This six-issue miniseries is an immediate prequel to The Batman – the detailed, disturbing and at times shocking story of a man with nothing to lose.

Artist Stevan Subic makes his American comic book debut, including a variant cover that is the first of six interlocking covers. This collaboration with Paul Dano delivers a shadowy and gritty story about the forgotten man of a society that no longer wants to go unnoticed. Subic’s recent Conan the Cimmerian for French publisher Glenat has won him much acclaim in Europe, and he’s on the brink of breaking through worldwide with a Batman series like you’ve never seen before.”

The riddle: the first year #1, written by Dano with art by Stevan Subic, goes on sale October 25.

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