The Riddler is one of Batman’s most famous enemies, and he has one of the most interesting backstories of any Batman villain in comic book history. The smart and dangerous villain has become a fan favorite ever since being created all the way back in 1948 by comic book icons Bill Finger and Dick Sprang.
The Riddler first appeared in Detective Comics No. 140, and since then the Riddler has appeared in thousands of comic books and multiple animated series. Jim Carrey portrayed the Riddler in campy fashion in the critically panned film Batman Forever, and comedian and impressionist Frank Gorshin starred as the Riddler in both the much beloved Batman TV series and the feature film version of the show called Batman: The Movie.
The recent Arkham video games have made the Riddler even more popular thanks to the sadistic and dark portrayal of the narcissistic baddie. The side missions in the Arkham video game series require players to find hidden statues and clues placed throughout Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Gotham City. Once all the clues are found, Batman can take down the Riddler.
Comic fans eagerly anticipate the storylines featuring the prince of puzzles, and many fans cosplay as this Batman villain at comic book conventions such as San Diego Comic Con. Here’s a look at 15 things you probably didn’t know about the Riddler.
15. The Character Was Played By Two Different Actors In The 60s Batman TV Show
Frank Gorshin famously played the Riddler in the 1960s Batman TV show starring Adam West as the caped crusader. Gorshin reprised his role as the Riddler for Batman: The Movie. Who can forget the classic campy riddles that Batman and Robin had to solve? “What is small, yellow, sits in a tree and is very dangerous?” The answer is a canary with a machine gun, of course. “What type of people are always in a hurry? Russians!” These Riddles were the highlight of the movie and TV show. “What happens to a Turkey when it is turned upside down? It’s gobbles up!”
However, Gorshin wasn’t the only actor to tackle the role of the Riddler for the 1960s Batman TV show. John Astin, who famously played Gomez Addams in the Addams Family TV show, also starred as the Riddler after Gorshin asked for more money. The upcoming animated Batman movie, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, will also feature the Riddler. The movie is based on the 60s Batman TV show and features the voice talents of Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their roles from the show. However, it still hasn’t been revealed who will be voicing the Joker, Penguin or the Riddler. Will the voice actors for the film be doing impressions of Gorshin’s Riddler, Cesar Romero’s Joker and Burgess Meredith’s Penguin?
14. He Is A Cancer Survivor
Deadpool isn’t the only comic book character to deal with the big C. Over at DC comics, the Riddler also suffered from the horrible disease. Unlike Deadpool, Riddler’s cancer wasn’t the cause of him gaining spectacular powers. It just made him deathly ill and almost killed him. In the famous Batman miniseries Hush, it was revealed that Riddler was dying from cancer. However, the villain cured himself of the deadly disease by bathing in the Lazurus Pit – the same healing pond that allowed Ra’s al Ghul to make himself practically immortal and brought Jason Todd back to life after being beaten to death by the Joker. If only the Lazurus Pit were real and not just in comic books, then cancer would finally be eradicated.
13. Weird Al Yankovic Voiced The Riddler
Numerous voice actors have portrayed the Riddler over the years. He was voiced by Wally Wingert in the popular Arkham video game series, by Freddy Kruger himself Robert Englund in the animated series The Batman, and by DC Comics regular John Glover in the iconic cartoon series Batman: The Animated Series. John Glover also had roles in Smallville and Batman and Robin. I bet you didn’t know that the king of musical parody also lent his voice to one of Batman’s greatest foes. Weird Al Yankovic, who himself is a huge comic book fan, voiced the Riddler in a series of animated shorts. The shorts featured Riddler challenging Batman to a series of riddles as the caped crusader tried to escape from Riddler’s many deadly traps.
12. He Teamed Up With His Rip Off
If you were one of Batman’s greatest foes you probably wouldn’t like it very much if someone else was stealing your modus operandi. Some say Riddler is just a rip off of the Joker, but that’s really not true. Joker and Riddler are actually nothing alike. However, another Batman foe is clearly a complete knock off of the Riddler. The Cluemaster is a Batman villain with a lot in common with the Riddler. Cluemaster is a failed game show host who left clues for Batman along the way. Other than the fact that these clues were not riddles, it doesn’t sound much different from the Riddler, does it? Despite the glaring copycat nature of Cluemaster, Riddler still decided to team up with this c-list villain. The evil duo teamed up to pull off an epic heist. The pair attempted to steal baseball memorabilia. During this plot, the Riddler gave Cluemaster a bomb to use as a distraction against Batman.
11. He Hosted His Own Deadly Version Of Celebrity Jeopardy
In the comic book storyline titled Riddler and the Riddle Factory, the prince of puzzles hosted a sadistic hidden game show. The sick game had a very dark and sinister twist. Riddler would dig up dirt on celebrities and use it to blackmail or humiliate these powerful Gotham socialites and starlets. Riddler used his skills of deduction and talent for gathering information to send Gotham’s most famous off the deep end. Many of his marks ended up committing suicide due to the Riddler’s tortuous game show. This is how the Riddler operates. He can’t beat anyone with physical strength, so he uses his mind to cause chaos.
10. Riddler Was Beaten As A Child
The Riddler’s origin is as dark and twisted as any other of Batman’s greatest archenemies. During his youth, he routinely did well in school. His high IQ and talent for memorization lead him to perform extremely well on tests. However, Riddler’s father wasn’t proud of his son’s accomplishments at all. Instead, his father was jealous of Edward’s achievements and even implied that his son was cheating on the tests. This jealously turned into rage, and things reached a breaking point when Edward’s father would viciously beat the soon to be Batman villain. The abuse by his father led Edward down a dark path, and he would eventually become the Riddler.
9. He Has Worked On The Side Of Good
Riddler hasn’t always led a terrible life of crime. There were multiple times when he was working to help solve crimes rather than commit them. In an issue of Detective Comics, Bruce Wayne hires the Riddler to help him track down a stolen pharmaceutical that is used for cellular regeneration. Riddler proves that he has detective skills almost as good as the Dark Knight and helps save the day. On the TV show Gotham, Edward Nygma works as a forensic scientist and helped out the Gotham PD, but that didn’t last long and he eventually turned evil and became a murderer.
8. He Got Plastic Surgery To Alter His Appearance
The Joker might like to use knives to intimidate his foes and the Batman family, but the Riddler actually went under the knife at one point in time. After pocketing a vast fortune from his life of crime, the Riddler got minor plastic surgery and even tattooed his entire body with question marks. Many interpretations of the Riddler have been tattooed. A mohawked and tattooed version of the Riddler appeared in DC Comics new 52 relaunch, and it is truly one of the more disturbing visual interpretations of the character. In the famed graphic novel Joker by Brian Azzarello, the Riddler also has sinister looking tattoos. This graphic novel featured a Heath Ledger-like Joker, and the Riddler from this comic is what we might have seen on the big screen if the prince of puzzles ever appeared in a Christopher Nolan Batman movie. Unfortunately, that remains in “What if” territory. The Riddler will eventually be seen in the DCEU. He was actually supposed to appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but was cut from the film.
7. He Has An Elseworlds Counterpart
In an alternate DC Comics universe called the anti-matter universe, aka Earth-3, the Riddler is actually a hero rather than a villain. This version of the character isn’t known as the Riddler at all. Instead of Edward Nygma he is Edward Nashton, and he goes by the moniker Quizmaster. He is part of a secret society of superheroes called Justice Underground. Justice Underground battles a corrupt version of the Justice League known as the Crime Syndicate. The anti-matter universe is entirely the opposite of the regular DC universe. Many villains such as Riddler and Lex Luthor are actually the heroes here and they work to stop a version of the Justice League that has become too powerful and gone mad with that power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Crime Syndicate is lead by Ultraman, who is an evil version of Superman. Batman’s counterpart in the anti-matter universe is Owlman, and Wonder Woman’s counterpart is Superwoman. The evil version of the Flash is called Johnny Quick and the evil version of Cyborg is called the Grid. The Crime Syndicate also consists of a Green Lantern-esque villain called Power Ring, and an Aquaman-like villain known as Sea King. The animated Justice League movie called Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is based on these comic book characters and the famous DC Comics mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.
6. He Was Homeless At One Time
There was once a time when the Riddler didn’t have an amazing secret hideout to plan his latest scheme to take down the Batman, Robin or Batgirl. He was actually homeless at one point. Following the events of the comic book storyline Hush, Riddler was left completely humiliated and defeated. He wandered the streets of Gotham City amongst the megalopolis’ vast and expanding homeless population. But this wasn’t the end for the Riddler. You can’t keep a good villain down. He would make his comeback and become more evil and brilliant than ever before.
5. He Has Henchwomen Instead Of Henchmen
Most supervillains have a team of henchmen to do their bidding in case they don’t want to get their hands dirty fighting superheroes like Batman, but the Riddler takes a completely different approach when it comes to evil sidekicks. The Riddler is all-inclusive and hired women to work as his personal sidekicks and criminal attaché. The Riddler is clearly a feminist and equal opportunity employer. This is just another way he is entirely different from the spouse beating sexist known as the Joker. Query and Echo, Diedre Vance and Nina Damfino, have no problem working for criminal scum like the Riddler, as long as he was willing to pay them enough money.
4. He Was Created By Comic Book Legend Bill Finger
I bet you thought Bob Kane created the Riddler, but in fact legendary comic book writer Bill Finger, co-created one of Batman’s created foes along with Dick Sprang. Finger created or co-created the vast majority of Batman’s greatest villains including the Joker and Penguin. Unfortunately, Finger was not recognized for his work and development in co-creating Batman and envisioning many of Batman’s greatest enemies until many years after his death. Only now is he being credited as the co-creator of Batman along with Bob Kane. Finger’s first major contribution to DC Comics was creating the original Green Lantern, and he went on to script the first Batman comic and create Robin’s famous origin story.
3. There Are Multiple Songs About The Riddler
Comedian and impressionist Frank Gorshin is the definitive version of the Riddler in the mediums of television and film, but did you know that Gorshin recorded an album that featured a song called The Riddler? He sang about Riddler’s obsessions with puzzles, and performed the song in character on The Dean Martin Variety Show complete with a slew of beautiful back up singers. It was even campier and cornier than the 60s Batman TV show, but it’s still one of the most fascinating pieces of Batman history and a true testament to the talent of Gorshin. Rapper Method Man, also wrote a song about Riddler for the Batman Forever soundtrack.
2. A Record-Holding Roller Coaster Is Based On The Riddler
At Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, you will find a roller coaster called Riddler’s Revenge. It is the largest and fastest stand-up roller coaster in the entire world. The ride is an astounding 48m tall and can hit incredible speeds of 106 kph. There is also a Riddler roller coaster called the Mind Bender at Six Flags Over Georgia. Even Batman might not have enough guts to take on one of these truly thrilling and frightening rides. The Riddler’s Revenge ride is very popular and has received favorable reviews by many roller coaster fans from around the world. The ride has placed on Amusement Today‘s list of the 50 best steel roller coasters. In 2003 it placed at number 41 on the list. In 2004 and 2005 it dropped to 44 and 45 respectively, but in 20o6 it climbed up to place at number 38.
1. He Was Spoofed On The Simpsons
The Simpsons has made fun of just about everything over its nearly 30 year history on television, and many times the animated comedy has poked fun at DC Comics characters. The Simpsons mocked the Riddler in the season 18 episode titled Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times. This anthology episode featured a Bartman segment where one of Bartman’s evil adversaries is Ned Flanders in a Riddler-esque orange costume with Ds instead of question marks. This Bartman villain is called the Diddler in reference to Flanders’ famous catchphrase. Rod and Todd were the Diddler’s henchmen. Otto was a villain called the Toker, and Bartman also beat up Poison Lenny.