The Riddler was originally going to be the main antagonist of The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. After the success of The Dark Knight, the producers asked the Riddler to be the next film's villain until Christopher Nolan felt that he didn't fit the realistic world he desired to show. He was ultimately replaced by Bane and Talia al Ghul in the finished project.
As a result the Joker's success in The Dark Knight, the producers at Warner Bros. were amazed to how Christopher Nolan and his team were able to realistically adapt one of the most well-known comic book supervillains of all time. The Dark Knight had proved to be a critical and financial success, which warranted the possibility of another sequel. While Nolan was at first unsure of returning, he ultimately entered into the project, whose title became The Dark Knight Rises. This time, the producers asked him to adapt the Riddler, another known Batman villain who hadn't been on film since Jim Carrey's portrayal from Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever.
According to many sources, Leonardo DiCaprio was going to be cast as the Riddler, having previously collaborated with Nolan on Inception, another critically acclaimed film of his. Indeed, most of the cast on Inception had previously had roles in Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy or went to have roles in The Dark Knight Rises. Another suggested options were the renowned Johnny Depp and David Tennant.
However, Nolan had problems adapting the Riddler, as he didn't feel the possibility of adapting him into the realistic universe his films represented. As such, Nolan asked to adapt Bane instead, as he felt that the character had a physical presence previous villains in the trilogy like Ra's al Ghul lacked of. Nolan's proposal was accepted by the studio and the Riddler was left out of the final installment of Nolan's Batman films.
- The Riddler marks the second time Leonardo DiCaprio got out from the Batman film franchise. He was first offered the role of Robin in Batman Forever (for which Christian Bale, who played Batman in Nolan's films, initially auditioned) but Chris O'Donnell was instead. DiCaprio was later offered the role of the Joker in Joker, but lost out to Joaquin Phoenix.
- Although the Riddler was dropped from the film before the final script was written, Leonardo DiCaprio was considered to be cast as Detective John Blake, a character who was featured in the final film. However, the role went for Joseph Gordon-Levitt instead.