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Jim Carrey Vs. Paul Dano: Here's Who Played The Better Riddler

When you have characters who have been around for decades, you inevitably wind up with a ton of different interpretations. That's most certainly the case with the Riddler, who debuted in 1948 after being created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. However, while he ranges from lighthearted jokester to deadly killer, one thing has remained constant — he's an intellectual match for Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. 

That's the case with the latest iteration of the character, as seen in "The Batman." Played by Paul Dano, this Riddler has more in common with the Zodiac Killer than Jim Carrey's portrayal in 1995's "Batman Forever." As a far more comedic romp, Carrey was positively over-the-top with his portrayal, complete with a bright green suit decorated in question marks. It's in stark contrast to the darker green outfit worn by Dano with a mask that would terrify most people's dreams. 

It's almost tough to compare the two, seeing how they take entirely different routes with playing the character. However, it's certainly possible, and there's a clear winner when it comes to who was the superior Riddler.

The following article contains spoilers for "The Batman."

Jim Carrey is a highlight of Batman Forever

"Batman Forever" doesn't exactly have a ton of support in its corner. Even at the time of its release, it was seen as a step down from the previous two live-action Batman outings, helmed by Tim Burton. Part of that can be attributed to the changing of the guard with Joel Schumacher taking over directing duties and the fact "Batman Forever" was far sillier and campier than what had come before. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that "Batman Forever" has a critics' score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Still, the movie isn't a total waste, and among the positive reviews the film has, many critics spoke highly of Jim Carrey's performance as Edward Nygma, a.k.a. Riddler. In a 2019 retrospective of the film, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian thought Carrey's Riddler was at least amusing, writing, "Tommy Lee Jones is Two-Face and a typically hyperactive Jim Carrey gets laughs as the Riddler." 

The review on Entertainment Weekly went into more details about how Carrey steals the show from Batman himself: "What a pleasure it is to watch Carrey take over the movie! His performance builds slowly, getting gaudier and crazier (right along with his Riddler-as-mad-dandy outfits), until he's swiveling his hips as he tosses grenades, then turning into a deranged game-show host." He may be goofy and silly, but that's clearly the point, and it's obvious Carrey's having a blast as the supervillain.

Meanwhile, Paul Dano's Riddler is as serious as a heart attack

On the complete opposite end of the Riddler spectrum, you have Paul Dano's performance in "The Batman." This time around, he's more grounded and realistic. He's a serial killer who targets Gotham's elite for crimes they've committed against the lower classes. At each crime scene, he leaves behind a riddle meant for Batman (Robert Pattinson) to solve.

This isn't a Riddler satisfied with whipping out a few zingers. He's all too real, and while critics had plenty of positive things to say as a whole about the film, Paul Dano's performance frequently came up as one of the best. Kevin Brackett of ReviewSTL.com had this to say, "Riddler's sadistic murders that all have puzzles attached is where the [director David] Fincher vibes come in. Dano is unhinged and all-in on this performance, and it is as impressive as it is terrifying on-screen."

Jennifer Heaton of Alternative Lens had a lot of good things to say about "The Batman," including this about the antagonist, "The real standout here is Paul Dano's demented version on The Riddler, who runs with the 'familiar yet different' remit of the film to its extreme." It may not be the Riddler most audiences are familiar with, but it's one that feels needed in the zeitgeist at this particular time.

Paul Dano's Riddler feels like it'll age better

With this match-up, there are two Riddlers that couldn't be more different. One's goofy while the other's all too real. However, Paul Dano's portrayal comes out on top when picking one over the other. 

Suffice to say, Paul Dano is in the far better Batman movie. It has much higher critics' and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, so it already has that going for it. On top of that, Dano is far more effective in his goals in the film. While both Riddlers wind up locked out at the end of their respective stories, Paul Dano's villain still manages to score a victory. He's successful in his attempt to flood Gotham and have his army of Riddler loyalists attack Gotham citizens at the arena. Batman may mitigate the damage, but it's obvious the city will never be the same, and more than likely, we'll continue seeing the character's influence in "The Batman 2."

Additionally, Paul Dano's antagonist feels like it'll age better. While "Batman Forever" is goofy all the way through, it might be somewhat cringey to watch in hindsight. We have a feeling "The Batman" will stand up well to the test of time, with this version of the Riddler being up there with Heath Ledger's Joker in terms of best comic book movie villains of all time.