Warner Bros. wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play the Riddler – but there’s a good reason why it never happened


Riddle me this: why did Leonardo DiCaprio never show up in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Writer David Goyer reaffirms that the idea was floated – but there’s a very good reason why it never happened.

"We had all these pitches. I remember at The Dark Knight [premiere], the head of Warner Bros. said, ‘You gotta do the Riddler. Leo [DiCaprio] as the Riddler.’ That’s not the way we work – not to take anything away from him," Goyer said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast.

Goyer pointed to what was then an emerging trend in the superhero genre – to pick a villain and then build a movie around it – as something that he and Nolan specifically wanted to avoid.

"I had a sense – with the Spider-Man movies or when superhero movies started getting made and you had sequels – that the studios would always say ‘OK, who’s our villain of the next movie going to be? And let’s build a movie around that.’ Chris was staunchly against that… let’s figure out what story we want to tell [first], and what we thematically want to explore with Bruce. Then let’s figure out a villain that fits the story."

Tom Hardy’s Bane, a figure that could break both Bruce Wayne and Gotham, was chosen as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises. The rest, as they say, is muffled history.

For more, check out our rankings of the best Christopher Nolan movies, plus a look ahead to the upcoming DC movies just over the horizon.