With Robert Pattinson confirmed as the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves’ The Batman now, the conversation spills over to who will be the antagonist(s) of the movie. Several reports claim that the Caped Crusader will battle a rogues’ gallery in this film, with the Riddler being a constant name mentioned by numerous outlets.
The last time Edward Nigma appeared in a live-action Batman film, it was in 1995’s Batman Forever, where he was portrayed by Jim Carrey. Carrey’s performance divided the audience as many fans felt the villain felt too much like the Joker than the master of mind games. It’s a fair comment as Joel Schumacher’s picture didn’t establish the Riddler as a major threat but rather as a goofy trickster.
Since then, DC has done its best to build up Nigma as the true chess master he is. There’s been an intense menace and psychological sinisterism to his actions, as he shrugs off the tag of being a gimmick villain.
“I think he’s actually been one of Batman’s most underused villains over the years. He’s got some terrific stories, but he appears relatively infrequently when you look at his history, or sometimes he has more of a supporting role,” writer Scott Snyder told CBR.
“When you think about it, Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and a case is the same as a riddle a lot of the time. At least in fiction, you investigate a crime and add these pieces up to get your answer. There’s always some kind of closed circuit to that, but the Riddler is always about confounding that loop and confounding that notion of finding an answer. He loves putting forward something that has an answer, but it always becomes more and more buried. So, he’s actually testing Batman’s most essential quality in some ways, which is his detection skill.”
This is why Nigma needs to be the main mastermind of The Batman. If Reeves’ Caped Crusader caper will be about Batman’s detective skills, there’s no better villain than the Riddler to test the Dark Knight’s mettle. Imagine if the big reveal is that it’s been him pulling the strings all along and the other rogues were merely his pawns.
Naturally, Batman’s main rival will always remain the Joker, but there’s space to explore the intellectual warfare between him and the Riddler. Most superhero films are all about the brawn, so let’s see one that’s about the brain.