Let's talk about The Riddler. I've been threatening to do this for awhile now but after seeing how The Riddler in FOX's "Gotham" broke bad, my jimmies have been EXTREMELY rustled about portrayal of The Riddler in live action media. Needless to say, THEY'VE SUCKED!! The Riddler is actually my favorite Batman villain. Heresy, I know, mostly because everyone is a fan of The Joker (especially after Heath Ledger's iconic portrayal of him) but for my money it's always been "That Green Gentlemen". My love for The Riddler stems from my love of riddles, cryptic stories, puzzles, mazes and things of that sort. Hell, The Sphinx has always been my favorite mythological creature because it asks you riddles. Anyways, I am writing this article to pitch my idea for crafting the perfect live action Riddler. So let's dive in!
Before we talk about who The Riddler is, we need to talk about who The Riddler isn't. The Riddler is NOT Diet Joker or Joker-Lite or anything of the sort (as he has been unfortunately seen). The Riddler isn't some cheap joker knock-off who instead of telling jokes, tells riddles instead.
|Basically, not this.|
The Riddler is a guy who needs to be the smartest man in the room. He's a genius who's so in love with his own genius that he can't help but flaunt it around and use it to get an edge over people. Although not physically imposing build wise (meaning he's not muscular) he should be psychologically intimidating in the sense that you can't quite predict what he's going to do unless he tells you. Enter Louis Bloom from the movie "Nightcrawler".
After watching "Nightcrawler" (excellent movie, by the way), I've decided that Louis Bloom is the perfect Riddler. Louis Bloom is a sociopath, a fast talking, highly focused misanthrope who gets what he wants and loses his mind if he doesn't. He has a driving will to succeed on his own terms and will do anything to achieve it. Throughout the film we see Louis gradually tow the line between journalist and criminal until he actually manipulates a crime scene. Louis is a thief, a by proxy murderer (meaning he got someone else to kill for him), a blackmailer and is doing it all for completely selfish reasons. Although he's a scrawny looking guy, the intensity in his eyes and body language communicates that he's not the kind of person you want to piss off. But Louis never flies off the handle in "Nightcrawler", he calmly explains his loathing for people and his desire to physically assault people to let them know he's not a person to be messed with.
This is part of who The Riddler needs to be and I think Louis has the perfect look and attitude for him. But the problem is that Louis isn't a genius. Sure, he reads a lot and has a drive to succeed and is heavily focused on whatever task is presented to him but he's not a career criminal. The Riddler as seen in "The Batman" was a career criminal and a bit of a techno wizard. Edward Nygma in "The Batman" was gamesman, a person who liked playing games when the stakes were high, a guy who liked the challenge of outsmarting the smartest, he was a huckster, a con artist, a gambler who up'ed the stakes each and every time he sat at the table. He valued brains more than brawn and absolutely hated being made to look foolish, especially by those he deemed inferior to him.
|Even looks like Louis Bloom.|
But let's not kid ourselves, The Riddler in almost all his incarnations has been motivated by revenge! He's not out for money or anything he can physically hold, it's more about the philosophical point of reclaiming his intellectual dominance over his enemy and them knowing that he (The Riddler) has bested them. That's always been the case. The Riddler's never been a guy to pull the trigger himself, and he's not a person who kills randomly, he's a proxy killer. If I can flashback to "Batman: The Animated Series" and reference The Riddler as portrayed in "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich", The Riddler had Batman walk in elaborate maze and solve riddles to save a business man who screwed Nygma over. In the end The Riddler had the business man tied up and ready to be sliced open by a mechanical minotaur, that is of course if Batman could solve the minotaur's riddle. Anyone see where I'm going with this?
Traps! The Riddler is a man of puzzles, games, mazes and brain teasers. Of course he'd make some of those puzzle to yield lethal consequences if solved incorrectly. Why not? The maze is aforementioned episode was heavily boobytrapped. Can you imagine a rubik's cube bomb or a Chinese Finger Trap that'll cut your hands off if not solved? Of course you can, The "Saw" films made that pretty easy, but while Jigsaw tried to teach his victims something, The Riddler just wants his enemies to know "I'm smarter than you and because you're not as smart as me, you're going to die, but I'm gonna give you a chance to save yourself just so I can watch you suffer.". This SHOULD be The Riddler's whole shtick, getting revenge on business men and women who have screwed him over in the past and doing it by placing them in situations that mirror who they offended The Riddler.
But The Riddler can't just be an engineer, a master frame artist and psychologist, a guy who despite being a complete misanthrope understands people, is disgusted by them but knows how to play them and play with them.
Hannibal Lecter is a serial killing psychologist with a medical background. As smart as The Riddler is, it wouldn't be a surprise if did self teach himself a few things medical and study psychology to get a working knowledge of how the brain works. Hannibal Lecter is a gentlemen's villain, well dressed, well mannered, very intelligent and also EXTREMELY dangerous. Using his skills as a psychologist and medical training, Hannibal is able to frame Will Graham for several of his murders. This is present in the TV show, not the movies. Imagine if you will, The Riddler framing a business man by manipulating evidence for the police to find child pornography on his computer, or massive embezzlement. Not everything for The Riddler has to end in bloodshed and while they do for Hannibal, something can just end in an extremely elaborate frame job. Imagine a story where The Riddler frames Bruce Wayne for murder in an attempt to blackmail him but the ultimate goal is establishing the link between Batman & Bruce Wayne.
The Riddler is the thinking man's villain and he needs to come off as someone who is more dangerous when they're not seen. He's a shark basically, although unlike a shark, The Riddler understands he's limited in terms of physical combat, but what good is breaking someone's bones when you can break their entire life. Hence the techno-wizardy must come into play. Controlling traffic lights, e-mails, stocks, bonds, photos, The Riddler should be a master of all of this stuff in order to accomplish his goals of revenge. And what better origins for The Riddler than having him be the original creator of some new program or website or something, only to have his collaborators legally strong arm him out of the project? OR maybe he and his friends created something like a new faster torrenting program and when the legal hammer was about to be brought down they set Edward up to take the fall.
That's pretty much been The Riddler's origins since he began, but now with computer being more well known and there are several people making serious and legit money off of things like Google, Facebook, Amazon and legal hammers being brought down on torrenting and things of that nature, doesn't it make sense that might be a person or too who were kicked off the gravy train? My point is, doesn't it make more sense to have a villain who's able to get you anywhere you can get a cellphone signal? That's who The Riddler should be. He should be draining corporations of their money and giving it to people. Not random companies but the companies and investors and anyone else involved in his being shut out or set up, and if one of those companies happened to be Wayne Enterprises...well then that's just the icing on the cake, isn't it?
The Riddler's interest in Batman should be admiration. The Riddler as depicted in "The Batman" in an episode titled "Riddler's Revenge", when Edward crossed paths with Batman he was impressed by the costume and gizmos he had and decided to give himself a makeover. But aside from being impressed by The Batman's stuff, The Riddler should take actual enjoyment in finding someone who can match his intellect. Of course, the result would be that The Riddler continuously wants to prove that he's smarter than Batman, either by exposing his identity or ruining the reputation of Gotham's greatest hero. He doesn't want Batman dead, he wants Batman beaten.
In the end, if you combined the elements, you can make a pretty fantastic Riddler. The Riddler can be SO VERY awesome if people actually dedicated time to figuring out how to do him properly rather than making him Diet-Joker, Joker-Lite or a complete and utter dweeb and loser;
|Like this guy|
Those are my thoughts on The Riddler, let me know what you think and I'll catch you guys later!