Monday, August 4, 2008

The Riddler


The Riddler, otherwise known as Edward Nigma, Edward Nygma, or Edward Nashton, is a brilliant man, obsessed with puzzles, mysteries, secrets, and, of course, riddles. Many people know him from the Frank Gorshin's portrayal on the 60s television series or Jim Carrey in Batman Forever where he wore a jumpsuit covered in question marks and seemed like a poor man's Joker, but more modern versions of the character have gone for a green suit and bowler hat, and a more complex personality. His crimes come from an obsessive need to prove his intellect. Leaving clues that he could solve allows him to test himself against Batman, hoping to prove to himself and to the world that he's superior. At one point, he deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne and considered it the greatest riddle he'd ever solved, but concluded that the mystery was only powerful because no one knew, so he didn't tell anyone. In typical and frustrating comic book fashion, the problem of a villain knowing Batman's identity was resolved by giving the Riddler amnesia.

Recently, he's abandoned his criminal ways and become a private investigator. Though he's "reformed," he hasn't magically become a good guy. He's less interested in helping people than he is in making money, getting famous, and solving crimes before Batman can.

Before we continue, you should know that this is going to have a lot more Dark Knight spoilers than most of the articles I've written here. You've been warned.

Pros: With a history as both a criminal and a detective, the Riddler is very flexible and can be used in any number of ways. His modern costume requires little alteration to fit in the movie universe (a dark green suit and a purple tie with a question mark on it?). He's memorable, famous, and many fans, based on the crazy rumor mill going around, would love to see him on the big screen portrayed by anyone but Jim Carrey. And Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) has suggested that we will see the Riddler.

Cons: Many people do only associate Jim Carrey and Frank Gorshin with the character, and their manic, over-the-top style would be a terrible fit with the realism established in Christopher Nolan's movies.

Casting Guesses: The internet is swamped with rumors that Johnny Depp will play the Riddler, but those rumors started with the National Enquirer, so I wouldn't take them too seriously. Plus at one point the internet rumor mills were saying that Anthony Michael Hall was playing the Riddler in The Dark Knight, which he obviously did not. This is not to say that Johnny Depp wouldn't do a good job, but my friends like to discuss who we'd cast as certain characters in movies, and our choice for most male characters age 25-50 is Johnny Depp, and he can't play every part. As much as I'd enjoy seeing him, I suspect that he'd be hard to attract to the part, or at least difficult to schedule.

Dr. Who actor David Tennant has expressed interest, but his personalty on Dr. Who and interest in the Frank Gorshin character make him a long shot.

There's also a question as to whether we've already seen the Riddler. In The Dark Knight, Coleman Reese, like the Riddler, solves the mystery of Batman's identity. And the Riddler is known for his goofy name pun, "E. Nigma = enigma," and many are quick to point out that "Mr. Reese = mysteries." So it's possible that the Riddler was already cast as Joshua Harto. Harto did an excellent job, but I suspect that we won't be hearing too much from the character in the future, whether he's this movie series' version of the Riddler or not.

As for my thoughts, I already suggested him for The Ratcatcher just because I couldn't think of anyone else, but Michael Emerson's character on Lost has some Riddler-like qualities, so I know he could do a great job. The ideal choice though is Guy Pearce, who previously worked with director Christopher Nolan on Memento. He looks the part perfectly, and has a demeanor that fits the Riddler just as well.

How I'd do it: Assuming, as I said above, that we haven't already seen the Riddler, I like the idea that Edward Nashton (Nigma/Nygma is too silly for these movies), a brilliant but shady private investigator, is unable to resist the mystery of unmasking Batman. Since the costumed vigilante is public enemy #1, Nashton could be hired by the city, or he could just come on his own for the publicity. Or an individual could hire him, either someone who wants to make his name by helping to bring down Batman, someone connected with organized crime who stands to make more money with Batman out of the way, or preferably both.

He could decide that the best way to lure the Bat out of hiding is to appeal to his vigilante nature and commit high profile crimes, leaving clues for Batman to follow. Or he could just play it straight like a normal detective. While Jim Gordon, knowing the truth, might try to intentionally slow the hunt for Batman or keep it on the back burner, Nashton picks up clues or otherwise fans the media flames, forcing Gotham City PD to act. And in the end, Batman could reveal the link between Nashton's employer and the mob, allowing him to at least partially redeem himself to the public.

Verdict: The Riddler's a great fit, possibly the best out of any villain. He won't be the version TV and movie fans know, and he might not even be a villain exactly, but he could be a great antagonist for a Batman on the lam.

48 comments:

First said...

The Riddler really wouldn't be the worst villain to be featured in the next film, it would continue the whole psychological thriller aspect Dark Knight had but I'm sort of hoping for a chase film with a lot of nice fights, maybe Lady Shiva or Talia leading a couple of the assassin villains around the city on a hunt for Batman. Plus you can use Hunt the Dark Knight as a tagline and give a nod to Miller.

Bill said...

Conveniently, you can use a psychological villain and have the chase scenes come from the police after Batman.

Gregg said...

Watching a re-run of 'House' last night, it struck me Hugh Laurie would make a compelling Riddler.

Bill said...

That's a good one. Would he have a british accent though?

Oliver said...

Haha!! House had played the mad guy on Blackadder (with Rowan Atkinson/Mr Bean in it). Nice. How about the nasty Doc from Scrubs?

I'd have the Riddler manipulating gangs, cops, media & ppl's emotions to knock over Gordon and lead the hunt against Bat.

He also does a deal with Black Mask(the mean tiger who mauled the other gangs) which the police ignore BM's illegal activities/trades while he helps hunting down Bat.(there's ur action!)

The fact that previous actors portrayed the Riddler in this over the top manner actually set up for a good surprise if someone can play him really dark. The Nicholson Joker was happy going then u see Heath Legder it just puts a chill down ur spine. Same can be done with the Riddler.

Kyle said...

I always saw the Nolan version of the Riddler being some form of serial killer who had a compulsion to leave clues behind, in a form of "catch me if you can" taunt (think the villain in the movie Seven). That same compulsion would lead him to solve the greatest riddle of all, "Who is the Batman?".

Nolan and company have a tendency to focus on a lot of the big, defining themes in the Batman mythos. I don't know how the Riddler would fit into a theme yet to be explored, other than "identity" (is Batman or Bruce Wayne the mask). Couple that with the "rumors" that Nolan and Goyer have stated they prefer a lesser known villain and I think the Riddler is out.

Anonymous said...

i must say the guy who put all this together is brilliant a detailed account on every villian is excellent to read and how they could fit into the next movie

Steve said...

At a conference recently, Nolan was asked who the 5 people were that Harvey killed. his response to the 2 that we dont know for certain was that he cant say but we will find out. since we know 2 were cops and wertz was shot, that leaves a cop and a civilian. i believe he killed reese and the cop guarding him. i also believe, like you said, that reese was nolan's riddler. i think that harvey found out batman's identity and that information is waiting in some shape or form since nolan told us that we will find out who he killed, as it will be a central part of the next story.

Anonymous said...

John Malkovich for Riddler

Bill said...

Malkovich is a great call. If they go with the Riddler, I really hope it's the cerebral type that Malkovich would do very well, and not the manic type that Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey did (even though Gorshin was excellent).

Anonymous said...

How about a version of edward nigma that, even with his higher superior IQ, cant seem to catch a break. Have him working in a research dept. at a corp. run by the penguin which is also a competitor for the wayne corp. and is causing huge problems by using all dirty illegal tactics and buying legislators votes to run wayne into collapse. So you have a problem for batman that for once isnt for batman. But batman is searching for anything to snag penguin on before wayne goes under. Could have a total mirror of corporate corruption and crime down under legal fronts. But nigma could be let go from peguin's corp and leads to his wife/kids leaving, losing his house and leaving him held up in a shack with his huge brain seeking revenge. I dont know, have some connection with batman seeing nigma like himself and trying to changeget him to understand he could use his gifts to make better like hes trying to do and riddler finds out hes wayne and then thinks hes nothing more than another penguin and then you can have an all out three way battle. Just ran all that together but hope you get where im trying to go.

Anonymous said...

The detective/investigator is the only way I see Riddler working currently. He can't be the main villain though, because he's not dangerous at all compared to Joker. Making Riddler a serial killer or a terrorist doesn't make sense - he wants control, not chaos. But I don't see someone of his intellect working as some other villain's henchman or ally either. So the detective - secondary villain is the only logical way.

And no Johnny Depp. God, people believe he could probably play any Batman villain if he wanted to - first they wanted him as The Joker, now Riddler, two completely different characters. Even if the villain is finally revealed to be Bane or something, people will probably still suggest Depp. Lol!

Bill said...

Heh, yep... I bet some people think Depp could play a shapeshifting Clayface without any special effects. The guy's a good actor, but there are some parts he wouldn't be good for. I think he'd be fine as Riddler, personally, but I also think there are better choices.

Anonymous said...

If Riddler appears, he has to be really, really smart, even smarter than Joker, who already was super smart, so that might be a little... challenge for the writers. I guess they'd have to make Riddler intelligent in a different way. They showed that Joker was able to predict even the most inprobable situations and come up with a plan for them (ironically, because he was also all about unpredictability and not using plans). Maybe Riddler could top him with an amazing deductive abilities and one super complex plan as opposed to Joker's numerous mini plans.

Anonymous said...

Riddler was amazing in "The Batman" episode "Riddled". That would be a good inspiration if Riddler was the main villain in a movie. Just give him more traditional appearance, like in the picture above. In the episode, riddles were less his compulsion but an important part of his plan. And the plan was ingenius and Riddler was really smart. It actually takes couple of times to watch it to understand how well he had it all planned. He was only beaten thanks to his ego. Besides we've already seen people deduce Batman's identity (which is easy and doesn't carry a whole movie), Riddler should have a different motive like in the episode: information and control.

Anonymous said...

I want to see Riddler control things. Like sending Morse code with the lights of the entire city or manipulating a chase by controlling traffic.

Anonymous said...

So many want Riddler as a serial killer, but isn't that a little unsophisticated for him. Besides we already have Saw and Zodiac, why copy them.
Others want him discovering Batman's identity. Nah, been done already in the movies. A detective would be logical though, but then again he isn't Riddler without his riddles.

Anonymous said...

I know they don't like to use villains already seen in the movies but Riddler and Bane need to be redeemed. Schumacher versions were horrible. But no Depp, he would just overshadow the character.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Riddler's compulsion to leave clues as riddles caused by his need to tell the truth (his father had abused him and called him a liar). So the character could be all about truth. Maybe he somehow knows about Dent and Batman and Gordon's lie and can't stand it (I don't know how, but he is the Riddler after all. Knowledge is power). He decides to torment them with his traps and mind games until finally telling the truth to Gotham. In reality he is Nashton from Gordon's unit but when he is in his Riddler persona he doesn't show himself, just question marks on screens.

Bill said...

"Wasn't Riddler's compulsion to leave clues as riddles caused by his need to tell the truth (his father had abused him and called him a liar)."

Depends on who's writing him, but that is one take that's been used.

Anonymous said...

Riddler should indeed be smarter than Joker. He should have a complex plan AND A CLEAR GOAL from the beginning and through the film, unlike Joker, whose intentions changed constantly.

Anonymous said...

Only the real goal isn't revealed to the audience, until the end.

Anonymous said...

What if Riddler doesn't try to find out Batman's identity, but knows it already. That would make him seem really smart.

Novak said...

David Anders should play him if Riddler is in the film. He's relatively unkown but I think would do a good job portraying the character

Zac said...

Your version of the Riddler is a lot like how I saw it, but yours is better. I also give you props about the Mr. Reese=Mysteries message.
I also believe Guy Pearce will be perfect for the role.
If they don't make Riddler the next villain I would be bummed cause he is such a complex character and can be so fun.

Novak said...

Actually Edward Norton could make a decent Riddler. Plus he's a great actor.

Anonymous said...

Control and information? How about double spy? Halfway through the film the Riddler appears and starts sending clues to Gordon to help him bust the main villain (?Black Mask, Penguin, Hush or whoever), then gets the detective position on the batman invesitigation, then he leaks police resources to the main villain, set him free from MCU, together they then go after batman and run down the city.

Anonymous said...

i think there should be 3 main villians in the next film. Catwomen, as Batman is on the run and Bruce is recovering from Rachel, Selina Kyle comes into the picture as a possible ally/love-interest/foe. Then you have 1 badguy working with the police in bringing down and discovering who is Batman (Hugo Strange, or maybe the Riddler/Scarecrow), and one new costumed mobb boss (Riddler or maybe Black Mask). This is where you have a new look on the Riddler possibly; whilst not Psycho like the Joker, he is dark, hardcore and very violent, whilst also intelligent. James Spader might actually be a good choice

Anonymous said...

I remember in some website someone saying that Riddler is too similar to Joker in a sense that they both have things planned really well(having back-up plans after another). But I say: let the Joker be the supreme planner. Riddler can be smart in a different kind of way: 1)building intricate puzzles and traps. 2)deducing Batman's identity.

Anonymous said...

I'm against making Riddler a serial killer, but actually some inspiration from Jigsaw wouldn't be bad. I mean his intellect, not the violent nature of his traps.

Besides, it seems to me that Jigsaw was actually inspired by Riddler, he even leaves riddleish clues. They just made him more creepy and violent to fit him to a horror movie.

Anonymous said...

Riddler would be great fit. He is exceptional villain, because he did not suffer any accident or trauma. Instead he, like Batman, thought: "This city need a better [insert hero/criminal here]. I am gonna make a masked alter ego for myself." That would fit the themes Nolan has been exploring. That Batman is causing these villains to appear. But to date, the villains have been disfigured psychopats, whereas Riddler would be an actual masked "supervillain".

Anonymous said...

I Personally, I would like to see a mix of Hush and Riddler. The Riddler would come onto the scene initally, pursuing batman, making it very much the chase film people to seem to want. It could be revealed that Thomas Elliot (as himself or Hush), already knowing of Batmans identity, hired Riddler to deduce it and reveal it to Gotham. Since the Riddler was never an imposing character, Hush would provide the fight scenes and both characters would provide the psychological tension, including themes of paranoia and Bruce Waynes past.

Mind At Large said...

Actually to everyones either rejoice or dismay, the Riddler is written into the nolan universe, as is Mr. Zsasz. In the website promoting The Dark Knight "Gotham Times" there is a crawler of Gotham News at the bottom of the screen. One such crawler reads: "Cyber-criminal by the name of Edward Nashton caught after hacking into City database." So if Zsasz and Nashton are already featured somewhat in the story line, it makes them obvious and sinister choices. My theory is that Zsasz is still escaped from Arkahm after Ra's Al Ghul's attack on Gotham. Zsasz is killing people left and right, and no one knows who it is. Nashton, is in Arkham and claims he knows who's commiting the murders. So Riddler would act as some sort of Hannibal Lecter character to Batman, and in turn achieves the greater goal of psychologically toying with the supposed "World's Finest Detective." also have a memento esque feel to it, showing Zsasz in scatter shots when the murders are discussed between riddler and batman.

Anonymous said...

@ First - You're an idiot.

The Riddler would be a perfect choice of villain, although they have to avoid making him a watered-down version of The Joker.

Anonymous said...

What if it went down like this:

Bruce wayne highers Edward Nashton and Jervis Tetch to the R&D department, while he puts luicus fox in charge while he tries to findout what to do now. While in the R&D department, Jervis discovers Wayne technology that allows for subliminal messaging in the minds of the sleeping. He immediately flees from wayne tech, with the device. Edward Nashton, however, looks through what R&D is working on. He finds several batman-esque devices, and deduces the identity of batman. Jervis tetch, meanwhile practices the Subliminal device, which is disguised as a hat. While reading Alice In Wonderland, he falls asleep, and becuase of the device, awakes to a belief that he IS the mad hatter. Edward, takes the role of the riddler, and begins a psychological killing spree, leaving riddles for the police to find. When Batman steps in, the police don't know what to do. they decide to let Batman operate on the riddler case, while they get to work on the recent Alice-napping incidents. WHile pondering the meaning of one of the riddles, batman happens across The Mad Hatter, who tells him that little girls "Interest" him. Batman becomes enraged and beats the Mad Hatter half to death. He once again remembers the incident with the joker, and stops himself. HE subdues the Mad Hatter, and finds another riddle hidden in his hat, saying "I know who you are, Bruce". Then Batman believes the riddler to be Coleman Reese. As he rushes to the man, he is shocked to find him already dead, With another riddle. Batman travels to arkham and questions the doctors, They say they recently let out a patient checked in nder the name "Edward Nygma". Batman remembers the name Edward, and travels back to wayne tech. When he arrives he finds that the only door to the R&D department is locked, and on the other side is a powerful explosive, capable of killing 12 hostages. The key is hidden within the body of bruces parents. And batman must retrieve them himself. While the riddler laughs over the Intercom of Wayne tech, batman finally pulls it out of him, and retrieves the key. He enters the R&D room and finds the bomb to be a dud. He Hunts down the riddler, and when he arrives, finds that the riddler had been murdered. His body riddled with bullets, he finds one last message. "that was fun B-man, but I'm coming after you next. from- Harley". The End.

Anonymous said...

The Joker was clearly a master of the so called "Xanatos roulette" (convoluted plan based on chance) and "Xanatos speed chess" (making the plan up as it goes along), while Riddler should use "Xanatos Gambit" (a plan in which all possibilities lead to victory of the planner). Only he underestimates Batman in the end when asking some ultimate riddle. Or what if even his defeat is part of the plan. The movie could end with news on TV saying: "Riddler and Joker escape Arkham together". Who knows?

Anonymous said...

Riddler as a cyber terrorist would be interesting, different, yet threatening enough. And think of all the viral marketing possibilities

Anonymous said...

We don't need Riddler in the next Batman movie. You know why? Go see Die Hard 3. The villain there is the perfect Riddler. They can't possibly top that anymore.

Anonymous said...

And it would be silly to see Batman solve some water jug puzzle in a park. Besides, Riddler's not that dangerous anyway. Minor role maybe. Some new freak, who Batman uses to get information.

Anonymous said...

I definitely want the riddler in the next one. Really, explore the trap aspect and verbal riddles rather than big jigsaw puzzles. He is one of the few characters that has something to top the joker with. His wit. I just watched "mindhunters" and I thought i would love to see a riddler of that intelligence level, BUT that Nolan could actually make it make some sense.

Anonymous said...

The villain in Mindhunters was just basically master of predicting other peoples actions, even inprobable ones that were against their characters. He was trained for it. Also it helped that the others were stupid as hell. Bad and illogical movie. I wouldn't use it as inspiration. Rather use Saw ( a bit cliche by now but really, just use the planning style of Jigsaw), Die Hard 3 and Untraceable.

Anonymous said...

Even though Heath Ledger passed away, I'd like to see more references to the Joker as if he were still manipulating things from Arkham.

Batman running from the law at the end of Dark Knight. The Riddler sends cryptic messages on how to find him in the next movie setting cops up for a death trap. Batman saves a bunch of cops who were after him and is no longer on the run ending the Nolan trilogy.

Would be great if The Riddler hired Coleman Reese to defend him somehow in a couple court scenes as he (Riddler) knows that Reese knows who Batman is.

Nevermind :)

Anonymous said...

A villain giving cryptic clues has been done in so many movies that it's becoming a cliche. Besides Joker already was so clever that he practically won (Batman broke his one rule). How can Riddler top that? I'd rather be interested to see a bad guy that is somehow scarier than Ledger's Joker.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of using the riddler, but they have too come at him from a different angle. He can't be the Joker, He Can't be Jigsaw, and he can't be Jim Carey. So what does that leave us with? That leaves us with Batman's most intelligent enemy of them all. I'd like to see him being a Keyzer Soze type villain with the Zodiac killer in their, one whose not seen much, but with the dramatic build-up and the intensity of the words he says, the entirity of Gotham City is just gripped with panic. It would be a nice change of pace to see batman "fight" and enemy he couldn't actually "Fight".

Ryo said...

the villain who will release the joker and the bane from arkham asyllum..

Frances said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Batman Jumpsuit said...

The Riddler, otherwise known as Edward Nigma, Edward Nygma, or Edward Nashton, is a brilliant man, obsessed with puzzles, mysteries, ... batmanjumpsuit.blogspot.de

Avi Mittal said...

Well done you predicted the villain correctly.