While the villain’s involvement in a third “Batman” film is far from confirmed — heck, the actual existence of “Batman 3” is speculative at this point — it’s worth wondering who could play Edward Nigma should he wind up in Christopher Nolan’s return to Gotham City.
Given Nolan’s proclivity towards a darker, more realistic tone than his live-action “Batman” predecessors, it’s important to steer clear of actors that would take a hammy, parody-riddled approach to The Riddler. This is a character that should have wit and humor, sure, but also pose a threat. With those qualities in mind, I think that these five actors would do an excellent job at confounding the citizens of Gotham in an eventual “Batman 3.”
The younger brother of former “Daredevil” star Ben Affleck has proven himself capable of much more than “Ocean’s Eleven” modeled sidekick roles, thanks to his leading man status in “Gone, Baby, Gone” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Particularly in the latter film, Affleck demonstrated an ability to be both eerie and heartbreaking at once — a dichotomy that would serve The Riddler quite nicely.
While Affleck is a bit of a known quality at this point, his star power isn’t so strong that his appearance as a “Batman” villain would be distracting — like Heath Ledger, Affleck would have little trouble disappearing completely into his character.
A few years ago, Bettany was a rumored contender for Joker in “The Dark Knight.” But even then, I always thought that the actor would be much better suited for The Riddler. Bettany has the proper physique for Gotham’s most puzzling villain, not to mention plenty of experience playing creepy characters in movies like “The Da Vinci Code” and “Gangster No. 1.”
But beyond his impressive resume and his previous near-miss with the “Batman” franchise, Bettany is another one of those actors that can slip into a role without retaining his off-screen persona. That’s a very important quality in whoever ends up playing The Riddler.
As the twitchy time travel specialist Daniel Faraday on ABC’s “Lost,” Davies excelled at playing the off-kilter but potentially dangerous genius type. Even though Faraday’s intentions were ultimately pure, Davies’ performance showed the actor’s ability to go to the edge of the deep end — and had he taken it just a bit further, we would have seen a deadly character much along the lines of what I’d want from The Riddler in Nolan’s “Batman” universe.
Truthfully, Faraday is far from the craziest character that Davies has played. His performance opposite Christian Bale in “Rescue Dawn” was thoroughly terrifying, not to mention his turn as the notorious Charles Manson in “Helter Skelter.” Without a doubt, Davies could pull off all of The Riddler’s quirky and killer attributes with ease.
Having already starred in Zack Snyder’s “300” and the upcoming “Jonah Hex,” Fassbender is hardly a stranger to comic book fare. In fact, the actor even admitted that he’s evoking Frank Gorshin’s classic take on The Riddler for his performance in “Hex,” meaning that the infamous “Batman” villain is already on Fassbender’s mind.
Honestly, the only risk I can see with picking Fassbender for The Riddler is his relative anonymity amongst mainstream moviegoers, despite having a starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” this year. Still, I think Fassbender’s lack of public baggage is an asset to the actor and would only make his transformation into The Riddler all the more authentic.
I’m going to go ahead and suggest that there is nobody better at playing the role of a wicked man child than “Mad Men” star Vincent Kartheiser. As the self-serving Pete Campbell on the Emmy-winning series, Kartheiser continually provides a smarmy but charismatic presence that makes him a standout for viewers week in and week out. But Campbell isn’t just an egomaniacal brat — he’s a dangerous talent that will do anything he must to climb the corporate ladder.
While The Riddler isn’t exactly looking to become the new CEO of Wayne Enterprises, he does share many of the often childish qualities seen in Kartheiser’s “Mad Men” performance. Nigma is less of a physical threat than he is a mental one, and Kartheiser has that in spades. With a few tweaks here and there, I think that Kartheiser could pull off an incredibly believable and dangerous performance under Nolan’s directorial guidance.
Who do you think should play The Riddler? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!