An eBay Mask And Uncomfortable Clingwrap: The Fascinating Origin Of The Riddler's Mask In THE BATMAN
The Riddler (Paul Dano) had a very distinctive look in The Batman, mostly due to his mask. Here, we break down the origins behind Riddler's eerie headgear.
The Batman offered a drastically different visual take on the Riddler than what we'd seen live-action adaptations of the past — specifically in terms of his headgear. The film did away with the villain's classic domino mask in favor of a winter combat mask combined with clingwrap and a pair of clear glasses. Matt Reeves' DC adventure is a relatively grounded take on the Dark Knight, so its main baddie having such realistic clothing was not surprising.
What is fascinating, however, is how the villain's look came together. Some interesting information regarding Riddler's mask has surfaced since the movie's digital release, and we've gathered the most important details here to break down the origin of the baddie's distinctive headgear.
In the film's director's commentary (at the 3:17 mark), Matt Reeves discussed the origin of the clingwrap that comprises Riddler's mask. The helmer revealed that it was Paul Dano who came up with the idea for it, figuring that the character would be paranoid about leaving hair behind at his gruesome crime scenes:
"I have to say, working with Paul was a very special experience. He's a really creative and thoughtful and meticulous person. [As] you can see [in the Riddler's opening scene], he has clingwrap around his head, because he was convinced that the Riddler was so meticulous that he wouldn't want any fibers of his hair, anything [left behind]. So, it meant he had to wrap his head in clingwrap, and he tried it, and I thought he looked terrifying."
The clingwrap ended up being a challenge for Dano, but one that he was eager to take on, as Reeves further explained: "[After] about three takes on this, he took off his mask just to take a break, and he was beet-red. And I said, 'Are you okay? Are you sure you want to commit to this?' He goes, 'No, no. I told you I would have cling-wrap on [my head.]' [...] [It] was quite a commitment that he made."
Finding The Mask On eBay
That leads us to the origin of the mask itself. For context, the Riddler's costume came about from the idea that he would need to put it together from whatever materials were available to him. As Costume Designer Jacqueline Dubran explained in the "Unpacking the Icons" featurette included in The Batman's digital release: "Paul Dano and Matt [Reeves] were both adamant that they wanted to research what the Riddler could've found in a surplus store near his house. And that would have been the kind of parameters of the options available to him."
This approach led Matt Reeves and co. to find the mask in an unlikely place: eBay. In "The Art of The Batman" (via Comicbook.com), Dubran revealed the winter combat mask that covered Riddler's face was found on the website:
"[I] think one of the defining things was finding the winter combat mask. We found it on eBay! It could have been from any kind of surplus store, and I think that gave us away into the character. Other than that, we were just finding different elements—the German jacket, American trousers, American boots, that would just be putting them together to make those intimidating as he could."
Paul Dano added to having found the mask: "That was definitely an 'aha' moment, like, 'Okay, I think that's the one,' you know, 'cause there were quite a lot of different options, and Jacqueline was wonderful to work with."
It's worth noting that the design of the Riddler's winter combat mask (or at least, variations of it) is common, so the piece found on eBay simply helped the designers, Reeves and Dano decide on the look for the character. Plus, given the necessity to craft several of the same costume for productions — especially superhero ones — we're sure more than one combat mask was made after settling on the design.
The Batman is available to stream on HBO Max and to purchase on Digital.