Riggan quit playing the superhero Birdman twenty years ago, now he’s on Broadway, writing, directing and starring in a play based on the stories of Raymond Carver. He seems to have telekinesis, but he may just be imagining it. He hates the performance of his co-star, then a light falls on the co-star’s head. Later, he’s being interviewed by jerk critics, then he finds out his dream co-star Mike is available.
Why Riggan might be hard to identify with: He’s sour. He’s weak. He’s a jerk.
- He’s just in his tighty-whities when we meet him. He keeps it real.
- He keeps a motto on his mirror: “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” But then we see he’s gotten a note from his assistant which ends up sitting next to it: “They didn’t have whatever you wanted.”
- He’s got a Birdman poster on the wall, turning his past into an object. Later, he throws it out.
- His doubts are personified as the voice of Birdman in his head.
- It’s real time (with hidden time-jumps) so it feels real.
- He’s got a toupee externalizing his insecurities.
- He feels embarrassed that he gets a workman’s name wrong.
- He’s running late.
- All of the actors he wants for his co-star aren’t available because they’re off doing superhero movies.
- A reporter asks him, “Are you at all afraid that people will say you’re doing this play to battle the impression that you’re a washed up superhero?”
- At first he’s worried that a bad co-star will ruin his play, but when the co-star is replaced by a better actor, he worries the new actor will upstage him.
- He seemingly has superpowers (though he may be imagining it). We first meet him levitating in his apartment. Later, he seems to mentally make a light fall on his fellow actor. He can turn off a TV with his mind.
- He’s a perfectionist.
- He follows his dreams: “Why would someone go from the playing the lead in a comic book franchise to adapting Raymond Carver for the stage?”
- He’s ambitious: Mike says, “You wrote this adaptation? And you’re directing and starring in this adaptation? That’s ambitious.”