There’s only been a few hundred Batman villains over the years, due to most of them having a tendency to come back again and again and again…
…and let’s face it, I’m going to be talking about one of the big guns here. One of the longest-lasting and most well-known of all Batfoes. So you can rule out Film Freak and Ratcatcher and all those villain-come-latelies.
It is, of course:
Why the Riddler? Why not the Joker, or Two-Face, or (insert nom du crime here)?
Because the Riddler is just more damned fun. But if you want some real reasons, I’m happy to oblige:
- Riddles are just cool. They’re a mental challenge that gives you the same chance as Batman to figure it out – and who doesn’t like to out-think the Bat? (See? You’re thinking like the Riddler already.)
- His civilian name: E. Nigma. Okay, sure he had it legally changed (from Edward Nashton), but it’s still a pretty cool name.
- He’s smart. Really smart. As in, figure out Batman’s secret identity smart. In some specific fields, such as cryptography, he may actually be Batman’s superior. As a detective, he’s near to being Batman’s equal.
- He’s as nutty as any other Batman opponent, but smart enough to realise that’s he’s a nut and therefore allow for it. He’s the only Bat-villain who sets out to compensate for his own insanity.
- One time, when possessed by a demon – which basically just affected his morality, not his wits – he managed to trick Batman into cutting the throat of an infant as part of a dark ritual (never fear, Bat-fans – it was to give the kid an emergency tracheotomy, not to kill them).
- He’s one of the few Bat-villains – or for that matter, supervillains of any kind – to be capable of learning from his experiences. In the early days, he was one of the few Gotham City costumed villains to carry a gun, purely for use on Batman, since there was a non-zero chance of him showing up.
- Continuing from the previous point: more recently, he worked out that matching wits with Batman didn’t neceessarily mean opposing him, and went straight, hiring himself out as a private detective and competing to solve the same cases. He still gets the mental thrill of matching wits with Bats, but this way he gets fewer beatins, no jail time, and a legal source of income. Plus, it annoys the hell out of Batman, which is a nice bonus.
How about he has the coolest costume – not the stupid jumpsuit, but the suit based on the costume worn by Frank Gorshin in the Sixties Batman tv show. Plus, hey, Frank Gorshin. Can’t go past Frank as the Riddler – the best match of Bat-villain and actor until Heath Ledger, forty years later.
Nope, it’s the Riddler.