So people are talking about casting choices for the next Batman, and there have been three noted... but there's only one I really feel like talking about. Here's a hint: he's not blond-haired, and he's not 62 years old.
The answer: Johnny Depp as The Riddler, the casting choice that tha Intarwebs seem most certain about. Do Depp's qualifications... his flirtations with Tim Burton and Disney, his hybrid status as a mainstream indie actor... give him the clout he'll need to play the Riddler? To answer this question, we'll have to look past the tabloid hype and explore more fruitful venues: the characters who have defined Depp as an actor.
There are four.
1. Sweeny Todd as The Riddler
This anti-hero might be the first character that comes to mind when you think of Depp as the Riddler, but I personally wouldn't be too interested in seeing Nolan take this direction. Sweeny's Riddler would be sentimental and sociopathic, vengeful, and overall, too measured and balanced. Tortured super-intelligence that overwhelms sympathy and leads to a callous disregard for human life? Yawn. Already been done.
2. Jack Sparrow as The Riddler
Jack: spritely, charismatic, unpredictable, and clever in unexpected ways. If you could pull this one off, you could make The Riddler seem more like a hero than a villain... a rogue vigilante wannabe whose only evil is that he's got a personal (or even professional) vendetta against Batman, who's simply getting too much attention. I doubt it will happen, and I'm not even sure I'd like it, but why not make your villain loveable for once? It would be a neat trick.
3. Willy Wonka as The Riddler
This Depp seems most pertinent to The Riddler. We can easily see Depp turning the character into a giddy recluse who has vast resources and complete control over whatever he can draw into his domain. The strange pedophile streak, the utter lack of simple social skills, and the glaring, unsettling eccentricity... if there's any way to convince the fans that Depp is the right choice, it's by pointing them towards Depp's creepy, sad, patriarchal Willy Wonka. Unfortunately, this character already resembles the Joker a little too much. We need something besides manic violence to allow The Dark Knight to grow.
4. Edward Scissorhands as The Riddler
This is the key role, my friends. It may sound unlikely, but what better way to evoke both sad sympathy and disgusted fear than to bring back the pathetic slouch of Depp's most tortured role? If The Riddler was actually an idiot savant... a pitiful and pitiable dog at society's heel, whose capacity for calculated, violent retribution is the only thing keeping his personality together... a character who geniunely fails to fully understand the damage he causes to Gotham City... then we'd really have something interesting.