Riddle me this, do you think Saw could serve as an origin story for the Riddler?
In 2004 director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell introduced the world to the Jigsaw Killer in the horror film Saw. Over the next eight films, audiences found out about John Kramer—the man behind all of the devious contraptions—and his motives. Believing himself to be someone who challenges people’s willpower and forces them to sacrifice to appreciate life more, his methods resulted in a pile of corpses, as well as the inspiration of several copycats.
Let’s say one of the people who saw and appreciated Kramer’s work was Eddie Nashton, aka Edward Nigma. He reads the stories of Jigsaw’s murders and studies all of the clues and traps, appreciating how every trap is merely a puzzle that needs creative solving. In theory, every trap is escapable, but it requires the player to understand the true price of playing. Even if you win, it might cost you everything…
Now, that you’ve read it, you can’t unsee it, because Saw is literally an origin story for the Riddler! From the theatricality of setting up clues and games to the sheer brutality of the consequence for failure, the Riddler is definitely more homicidal maniac than a puzzle master. Yet, like Kramer, he believes there should be an opportunity for someone to escape or solve the puzzle—even if it’s slightly slanted in the gamemaster’s favour.
While there have been more comical and kid-friendly versions of the Riddler over the years, the Batman: Arkham series introduced someone who played deadly games. From death races to forcing the Dark Knight to fly through high-speed metal fans, these mini missions made you wonder if all the Riddler trophies were worth the mental and physical anguish.
Judging by the first trailer for The Batman, Paul Dano’s Riddler looks like he’ll lean more into this psychological sinister version of the character. Watching the Caped Crusader investigate the clues as the Riddler’s voice lingers throughout the footage, there was a moment or two where you wondered if this might secretly be a new Saw film.
To be fair, it’s about time that the Riddler receives the limelight. On paper, he has the potential to be one of Batman’s most dangerous foes, but he keeps getting passed off as just another gimmicky rogue. Maybe this Saw-inspired version of the character will be the one that eventually convinces everyone about how truly disturbing he can be.