Watch: Paul Dano discusses The Batman costume and Zodiac links
The superhero film is steeped in iconography of David Fincher's crime thrillers, including Se7en and, of course, his 2007 epic Zodiac about the fruitless attempts to track down the North California serial killer.
Certainly, Dano's take on the Riddler — a brutal murderer with a deadly grudge and a DIY costume — is a long way from Jim Carrey's neon-hued version of the character in Joel Schumacher's 1995 movie Batman Forever.
"The Zodiac Killer reference only took me so far," said Dano in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment UK alongside co-star Jeffrey Wright.
The 37-year-old added: "I know [the Zodiac connection] was important for Matt and it does say that the more real this is, the scarier it can be.
"But it wasn't a major influence on the actual performance. I don't think you over-think or intellectualise about how big or small you can go.
Read more: Christian Bale voted best ever Batman
"I think you're trying to build the character, the stakes for that character, the history and I think this guy is fully loaded by his life. There is a lifetime of pain coming out and being exorcised, so trusting that that's there and that force is coming out.
"Also, Matt was an incredible collaborator. We did a lot of takes and there was room to explore and to search."
One of the core elements of the Riddler is the unconventional costume, which eschews the bright green and question marks beloved of animated adaptations and comic book panels.
"There was a great design already in place in Matt's script, which was very fully conceived, as well as in the costume department and the drawings and sketches." said Dano.
He added: "There were a lot of different versions playing in that ballpark and then we all worked together to find what the right thing is. In particular, the right mask was certainly one of the keys to the character and the performance itself.
"That was true of many elements of the film. Matt had such a clear vision, but everybody still got to bring all of their ideas and their full artistry to the table. I think you can see that in the film."
Robert Pattinson plays a version of Bruce Wayne who is in the fledgling years of his career as a crime-fighter when the Riddler emerges, targeting members of the Gotham City elite and leaving behind cryptic calling cards.
Wright plays Batman's police ally Jim Gordon, while Zoe Kravitz plays Catwoman and Colin Farrell is buried under make-up as criminal underworld figure Oswald Cobblepot.
Read more: The Batman movies that almost got made
Reeves' film opens up a new take on Batman, existing alongside the Ben Affleck version who will appear again in the upcoming solo movie for The Flash — which is also due to feature the return of Michael Keaton as another version of the Caped Crusader.
The Batman is in IMAX and UK cinemas from 4 March, with IMAX previews on 3 March.
Watch: Trailer for The Batman