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Why the Riddler is such a good villain for the Matt Reeves Batman film

Image of the Riddler from DC Comics - Animated Apparel Company

(Image Credit: DC Comics)

 

There is a lot of anticipation for the upcoming The Batman film, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. And while I’m still not completely sold on this project (that’s a discussion for another article), there was a particular decision that I found very appealing, which was the decision of having Edward Nigma, also known as The Riddler, as the villain of the film.

I personally loved this decision because it means that we’re not going to rely yet again on the Joker for another Batman adaptation. Don’t get me wrong, the Joker is the Dark Knight’s quintessential villain and rival and one of the greatest bad guys in the history of comics, but I’m glad that DC and Warner are looking beyond that, focusing on other characters.

In that regard, we’re going to give you a series of reasons to explain why The Riddler is such a good villain for the upcoming Batman film.

 

It works thematically.

Comic book Panel of the Batman versus the Riddler - Animated Apparel Company

(Image Credit: DC Comics)

 

The best villains are always a test of some kind for the hero. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally, or even morally, there should always be strong opposition for the main character, especially for someone with so many virtues as Batman. In this case, The Riddler is a perfect moral contrast.

Bruce and Edward dress in unique outfits. Both of them have created alter egos to do things they wouldn’t do as their normal selves. And both of them use these identities to deal with their own inner demons. There are very clear parallelisms between these characters and that is part of the reason their rivalry has endured for so long.

Now, I’m personally tired of so many character studies when it comes to Batman (again, that is a topic for another article), but I think there is an argument to be made that The Riddler shows how Bruce has used his alter ego to be a force of good while Edward has used his other self just to spread chaos and pain.

The Joker is usually a contrast of Batman’s morality, but I think The Riddler is a very nice contrast of Bruce creating an alter ego to do what he does as the Dark Knight. And if Matt Reeves manages to use that properly, he is going to have something really special.

 

He is an intellectual villain.

Comic book panel of the Riddler holding chest pieces - Animated Apparel Company

(Image Credit: DC Comics)

 

Every Batman adaptation has taken a certain aspect of the character: Adam West’s was the camp side of superhero comics, Michael Keaton’s was the gothic elements, Christian Bale’s was the more introspective side of the character and Ben Affleck’s was more the action-based elements of Batman, but we never got to see the detective side of the Dark Knight. Matt Reeves has hinted that he is going in that direction with Robert Pattinson, so it makes sense that The Riddler is the villain for that interpretation of the character.

 

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As his name suggests, his crimes are done with hints and riddles to keep the opposition on their toes–this has been the character’s style and way of doing things since his inception. It is also something that most modern comic book writers (and writers in general) have tried to avoid for a while now because designing complex riddles is not something that many can do–it is also part of the reason why we don’t see Batman actually doing detective work since mysteries require a lot of creativity from the writer’s end.

I fully understand that superhero films are usually action-based, but I think there is space (and I would even go as far as saying that there is a need) for an intellectual and strategic Batman film. One where we can see Bruce Wayne showing all of his intellect and detective skills and where the villain is a lot more cunning and mysterious because we don’t know what his endgame ultimately is.

 

He does it for the sheer joy of it.

Comic book panel of the Riddler - Animated Apparel Company

(Image Credit: DC Comics)

 

There is an interesting element about The Riddler in the sense that he is not doing what he does for power, money, or even a thirst for chaos (at least not in the way the Joker wants it), but rather he enjoys making riddles and torturing people through that.

There is a certain simplicity when it comes to The Riddler as a character that is very appealing and that makes him a good contrast to Batman, who is motivated by his desire to protect people. I think that could be an interesting perspective to show in the upcoming Matt Reeves film: how a man takes the mantle of a bat-inspired by his own personal loss while another basically does it to feed his own insanity. I don’t think we’re going to see that, but it’s what I would do from that perspective.

Batman is a character that is very rich in elements, villains, resources, stories, concepts, and a lot more. He is one of the Western culture’s biggest icons and a part of our modern-day mythology, but I have often felt that past films relied heavily on specific traits of the character, which led to many films using the Joker. Matt Reeves now has the chance to fix that and bring us The Riddler that we all want to see.


Kevin Tanza

Kevin Tanza is a Venezuelan writer who fell in love with stories, music and soccer/football when he was a child and since then, he hasn’t stopped writing about them. He has been published in multiple websites in both Spanish and English. You'll find his work at MusikHolics, Good Comis to Read, Gemr, The Busby Babe, Chiesa di Totti, La Soledad del Nueve, Sail Away, Colgados por el Fútbol, Genre, United’s Red Rain, Mariskal Rock, Sugati Fashion, Indie Artists Go and Music Existence. He has also published a series of short stories. Feel free to use the links provided below to follow Kevin on social media. For business inquiries, please contact him via email.

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