The Riddler (Edward Nigma or Nygma, or Nashton) is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain, an enemy of Batman, and, in the mid-2000s, a partial ally to Batman. Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Dick Sprang, the character first appears in Detective Comics #140 (October 1948).
The Riddler was popularized by Frank Gorshin’s over-the-top, Emmy-nominated portrayal in the 1960s Batman television series. Jim Carrey played the Riddler in the 1995 film Batman Forever with Gorshin as his inspiration. The character was also featured in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman, where in the former, he was portrayed as a smooth-talking intellectual who presented genuinely challenging riddles; in the latter, he is a much more sinister character with a Marilyn Manson-inspired design based on the traditional costume.
After a teacher announces that a contest will be held over who can solve a puzzle the fastest, a young Edward Nygma sets his sights on winning this, craving the glory and satisfaction that will come with the victory. He sneaks into the school one night, takes the puzzle out of the teacher's desk, and practices it until he is able to solve it in under a minute. As predicted, he wins the contest and is given a book about riddles as a prize. His cheating rewarded, Edward embraced the mastery of puzzles of all kinds, eventually becoming a carnival employee who excelled at cheating his customers out of their money with his bizarre puzzles and mindgames. He soon finds himself longing for greater challenges and thrills, and dons the guise of the Riddler to challenge Batman, who he believes could possibly be a worthy adversary for him.
Some writers have suggested that the Riddler's compulsion stems from parental abuse that he endured as a child. After Edward got high scores on some important tests in school, his father, unable to grasp the fact that his son was brilliant, beat him out of envy. This, in theory, left him with a strong internal desire to tell the truth, and prove his innocence. This desire manifests itself in the form of his obsession with riddles. Other writers have suggested that his madness, as well as his descent into crime in general, have roots in a yearning to rise above the anonymity that he possessed as a youth.
In Batman: The Long Halloween, the Riddler appears as a smooth-talking, yet odd, informant. He first appears when Carmine "The Roman" Falcone hires him to figure out who the Holiday Killer is. Despite giving several reasonable theories as to who is behind the killer's identity, the Roman eventually loses his patience. Carmine orders his daughter, Sophia, to force the Riddler to leave. Upon exiting Falcone's office, the Riddler is attacked, but for some reason left alive, by Holiday. The attack was planned to coincide with the holiday of April Fool's, and several items pertaining to it were left at the scene. This may be why the Riddler was left alive, as matters are traditionally reversed on the holiday. He appeared again in the same chapter of the story that Harvey Dent gets disfigured in, when Batman comes to him for information about the attack.
He plays a slightly larger role in the story's sequel, Batman: Dark Victory, in which Batman turns to him to figure out the significance of the lost games of hangman that are left at the scenes of the Hangman killer's crimes. He later showed up as a member of Two-Face's jury during the Hangman's trial.
In the one-shot "Riddler and the Riddle Factory", the Riddler becomes the host of an underground gameshow that focuses on digging up dirt on celebrities. Many of the famous people that he humiliates end up committing suicide shortly afterwards, suggesting that perhaps the Riddler did more than just inspire their deaths. In the end, his actions turn out to be a front for his attempts to find the hidden treasures of "Scarface" Scarelli, a Gotham City gangster who lived long before Batman's reign of crimefighting.
In the three-part Legends of the Dark Knight storyline "The Primal Riddle", the Riddler engineers what could possibly be called one of his greatest deathtraps: Batman is thrown into a narrow pit that is slowly filling up with water. The walls are electrically wired, and a set of bumpers are the only thing that prevents the water from touching the walls and causing Batman to die by electrocution. The only options Batman appears to have are death by electrocution and death by drowning, but as always, Batman manages to tamper with the traps design and develop a route of escape.
Riddler had a working relationship with The Cluemaster, although he initially resented the villain for seemingly copying his modus operandi. In their first encounter, he set his fellow rogue up with a bomb and sent Batman off chasing riddles that would lead to its defusal, as well as away from his real plan: to steal a vast amount of priceless baseball merchandise. The two teamed up on a few occasions afterwards, and were working together on a big scheme shortly before Cluemaster's apparent death in the pages of The Suicide Squad.
He seems to be more rational and cautious than his fellow rogues. During the Batman crossover storyline No Man's Land, after Gotham City is ravaged by an earthquake and Arkham Asylum frees its inmates, Riddler elects to flee Gotham rather than stay behind in the lawless chaos that ensues.
It is during this period that he makes the poor choice of attacking Black Canary and Green Arrow in Star City, where he is easily defeated. This event helps lay the foundations for Riddler's future confrontations with Green Arrow (see below).
During the psychotic break that follows exposure to the Lazarus Pit, Riddler deduces Batman's secret identity, and that the late Jason Todd was once Robin. He then tells Clayface to shapeshift into a replica of Jason in order to torment Batman, who is haunted by the former Robin's death. Batman first thinks that Riddler had stolen Jason's corpse and hid it outside of Gotham Cemetery, but it turns out that Jason is alive the whole time. When the Riddler threatens to expose Batman's secret identity, however, the Caped Crusader mockingly labels it an empty threat, pointing out that if Riddler revealed the answer to the riddle "who is Batman?", it would become worthless, something Riddler wouldn't be able to stand. In addition, Batman warns him that if he reveals the secret, it would give Ra's al Ghul a vital clue that he used a Lazarus Pit without his permission, and the League of Assassins would subsequently retaliate against him.
In Detective Comics #797-799, the Riddler faces a great humiliation at the hands of Poison Ivy. In this encounter, the Riddler seeks shelter from Ivy only to be humiliated. Riddler and Ivy then face off in a physical duel, which Ivy wins easily.
Riddler is stripped of his deductive powers and left to rot as a member of Gotham City's vast and invisible homeless population. A chance encounter with an ex-NSA codebreaker gives him a positive environment in which to recover his mind. During that stay, he experiences an induced flashback that leads him to realize that his father had abused him many years ago. Envious of his sons academic achievements in school, and unable to understand his brilliance, his father believed he had cheated in his accomplishments, and beat him out of jealousy. Once Riddler discovers this, he also realizes that his compulsion is born out of a strong desire to tell the truth to prove his innocence of deception.
Having made this connection, the Riddler spends some of his vast fortune, acquired over many years of crime, to get minor plastic surgery and extensive tattooing, covering most of his torso with his trademark question insignia. He returns and kills the codebreaker- who had pieced together his identity but couldn't act on it- then promptly steals a priceless scroll out from under Batman's nose. Since then, the Riddler has spent most of his time either legally amassing a huge fortune or attacking various heroes in order to prove his newfound power.
After orchestrating a brutal series of assaults on Green Arrow, as revenge against his defeat at his hands during the No Man's Land era, Riddler gravely injures and almost kills both Green Arrow and Arsenal. He once again escapes before the Outsiders arrive to save them. Sometime between this incident and the events of Hush, the Riddler was hired to steal artifacts imbued with mystical powers from one of Star City's museums, and then distract the authorities so that the related rituals could be commenced. He sends Team Arrow on a wild goose chase around the City, and then reveals that he has an atomic bomb housed in the stadium where the Star City Rockets play. However, as a side effect of the ritual performed with the artifacts, the city is plunged into complete darkness, and Green Arrow uses this to his advantage, moving in and apprehending the Riddler.
Riddler later shows up in Infinite Crisis #1, with a group of villains, which includes the Fisherman and Murmur, attacking the Gotham City Police Department. He is next seen escaping Arkham Asylum during the worldwide supervillain breakout engineered by the Secret Society of Super Villains in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1, which takes place only days after the prior supernatural disaster. Riddler re-appears as part of the Society's "Phase Three" attack on Metropolis. He is defeated by the Shining Knight and is struck in the head by the Knight's mace.
In Detective Comics #828, Riddler is a guest along with Bruce Wayne on board a ship during a party. During the party, an old friend of Bruce's falls overboard and is mauled to death by sharks. The Riddler appears to solve the case with the suicide of the apparent murderer, and quickly takes the credit. However, Batman finds evidence that the suicide was a setup to divert attention away from the real killer. Bruce suspects foul play, and eventually tracks down the killer, whom Riddler is also close to catching before Nigma is bludgeoned over the head by a shark-tooth club. The killer pushes Batman out the window, and is about to drop him to his death, when Nigma wraps his tie around an arrow, lights it on fire, and shoots it into the killer's back. As the assailant rolls around screaming, Nigma taunts him, refusing to douse the flames. Batman extinguishes the flame, and responds to Nigma's assertion that they're now allies with hostile dismissal.
In Detective Comics #837 Riddler is hired by Bruce Wayne to track down an experimental drug developed by Wayne Enterprises currently being tested for muscle stamina and cellular regeneration which has been stolen by a lab assistant named Lisa Newman. He discovers that Newman is staying at the same Athenian Women's Help Shelter as Harley Quinn. With Harley's help he defeats Newman and returns the drug to Wayne Enterprises, earning Batman's trust for the time being.
In Countdown #42, Riddler claims to Mary Marvel that he has gone straight and is now a detective. The two join forces to defeat Clayface, and after witnessing Mary's new malicious approach to crime fighting, suggests that she consider finding a mentor to help her control her powers. Or at the very least get some anger management.
In the 2008 miniseries Gotham Underground, Riddler investigates the Penguin's involvement with the events of Salvation Run. He saves Dick Grayson, who was undercover during the Gotham Gang War between Penguin and Tobias Whale and deduces that Grayson is Nightwing.
He later appeared in Hanna-Barbera's Challenge of the SuperFriends as a member of the Legion of Doom. Playing off the Gorshin model, this Riddler is a hyperactive lunatic whose contrived riddles baffle all but Batman and Robin. He was voiced by Michael Bell.
He made his only solo appearance in a Super Friends short episode, "Around The World In 80 Riddles", where he sprays Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin with a chemical to reduce their intelligence to that of two-year-olds.
In Batman: The Animated Series, John Glover played the Riddler. For this version, the producers decided to play against the popular Gorshin image of a giggling trickster and have the character as a smooth intellectual, who presented genuinely challenging puzzles. Riddler's first appearance was in the episode "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?". In this incarnation, Nygma is a game designer fired by a greedy executive name Daniel Mockridge for suing after not getting royalties for a game he created called "Riddle of the Minotaur." He seeks revenge as the Riddler by kidnapping Daniel and placing him in an elaborate maze deathtrap. As a testament to his ingenuity, the Riddler is one of the few villains in the animated series who emerges victorious in his first appearance; while he does not kill his victim, the Riddler escapes Batman and has the satisfaction that Daniel Mockridge now lives in fear of his return. As with the other versions, this Riddler has a fondness for elaborate deathtraps that Batman often escapes from by "cheating," or finding flaws in the trap's design and exploiting them; for instance, Batman deliberately went after the flying Hand of Fate device, hotwired it to his palmtop computer and flew towards the center of the maze. The Riddler then chastises that Batman is not allowed to tamper with the Hand of Fate, but Batman snorts he doesn't believe in fate.
In the episode "What Is Reality?", his second appearance on the show, he traps Commissioner Gordon inside a deadly virtual reality video game, which Batman is forced to enter in order to save him. While dodging the traps laid out in the construct and chasing clues, Batman discovers that he can change and mold his virtual body into forms that will better suit the tasks at hand, and he uses this newly-discovered ability to fool the Riddler into causing his program to overload. During the confusion, Batman escapes the construct with the Commissioner, and the Riddler's mind is briefly trapped inside the virtual reality device.
In the episode ""Riddler's Reform" , Riddler’s final major episode appearance , he has seemingly reformed, and a wealthy owner of a toy company hires him to produce a line of puzzles and games that are aimed at children. He deliberately hides clues in the company's advertisements that correspond to crimes that he will eventually commit. After a confrontation with Batman, the Riddler vows to rid himself of his enemy once and for all, and lures him into one last death trap. Batman manages to escape yet again, much to Nygma's chagrin. He is sent back to Arkham Asylum, smitten with rage. His only other appearances on the show were two small cameo appearances in the episodes "The Trial" and "The Worry Men", where he appeared as a puppet. But he has been referenced and alluded to in a few other episodes, as well. The series' creators admit they didn't use him very much because his character often made story plots too long, too complex, or too bizarre. The writers described this problem with the Riddler in an article in Comics Scene #43, published by Starlog.
Edward Nigma was fond of puzzles ever since he was a boy, but his father teased him and wanted him to go out for sports. Eventually Edward grew tired of this life and got a job at a university. Together with another scientist, Julie, they created a memory module device that enabled the user to remember things they may otherwise forget. When enabled, the device would allow the wearer to read books at superspeed and not forget a single bit of information--when they needed to recall what it was they read, a remote control device could enable the device to recall what the user had just read. The demonstration to the dean of the University was a rousing success, but Gorman, a man who kept attempting to steal the fruits of Edward Nygma's labour, constantly pitching a partnership between the two of them in order to capitalise on Nygma's genius and get himself in on the profits sabotaged it, or so Edward thought. After getting Eddie fired from the university which was funding him research, Nygma broke into Gorman's house and tried to play a deadly game of Q&A before Batman rushed to Gorman's rescue. It was in this encounter with Batman that Edward knew he needed more of a challenge and he found it in Batman.
Donning The Riddler persona in his debut episode called “Riddled”, Riddler is able to stump and confound almost everyone in Gotham city--everyone except Batman. Knowing that he would be helping Detective Ellen Yin to discover his riddles, Riddler moved them across the city, stopping his containers of "explosives." The explosives, in reality, turned out to be nothing more than gelatin dessert. Upon discovering this, Batman and Ellen discovered that inside Riddler's clues he left other riddles to his real plans; to steal the information in the city's archive and use it to wreak havoc on Gotham. Chasing Riddler down, they found him at the site of where the original clue was given.
The Riddler next appeared in the episode “Night and the City” where he participated in a three-way turf war between himself, Joker, and Penguin. Riddler made his mark with giant green lights on several buildings that were placed in a pattern resembling question marks, much like Joker had covered the buildings with a bleach-white powder called "Joker White" and the Penguin had spray-painted trails of jet-black paint. All three villains agreed that the title to be "king of Gotham" would go to the one who could capture and unmask the Batman, and Riddler threw off the Gotham police (who were also hunting for Batman) by turning out all the lights in the warehouse that Batman was in, then sending a train (under his control) to cut off the police cars from chasing the Batmobile. Riddler managed to stop Joker & Penguins' minions by opening a drawbridge that the Batmobile barely crossed, but the two themselves were not deterred. Meanwhile, Riddler created a false signal via a transmitter to lure Batman and detective Yin into another warehouse, with hopes of capturing them in a small rocket pod and delivering them to his hideout-an oil drilling platform in Gotham bay. However, Riddler accidentally captured Joker & Penguin instead, and the two proceeded to beat Riddler's minions to a pulp. Meanwhile, Batman arrived and managed to defeat all three.
Sometime later, in the episode “Riddler’s Revenge” Riddler's latest attempt on Gorman's life as he attempted to blow up a boat full of his inventions that Gorman 'stole' from him, hoping to finally exact his revenge on the executive failed once again due to Batman interference and the two were trapped in the explosion of Gorman's shipping boat. Gorman escaped the boat in time before setting off the charges himself with Riddler's stolen cane. It is unknown if Gorman survived afterwards, however, as when Riddler's henchmen The Riddlemen come to pick Riddler up from his location in Gotham Harbor, they give Riddler his cane--whether this is the same one that Gorman took is unknown. If it is, however, it seems Riddler's henchmen may have exacted his revenge for him. Riddler later found out, with the help of Batman, that the real saboteur the day of the demonstration with the memory module was really Julie and not Gorman. Riddler's own desire to be with Julie had clouded his judgment on this matter and he attempted to kill Julie as well before Batman and Robin intervened. Batman defeated Riddler and Robin defeated the Riddlemen. The two afterwards left the police to deal with Julie and Riddler.
Riddler was among the captive victims of Rumor in the episode “Rumors”.
Though brilliant, Riddler is also sick and twisted. With his inability to not give riddles about everything he does, he always leaves that as a weak spot for Batman to exploit.
The Riddler appeared in the Question's Vertigo Comics series, being convinced to become a "big-time villain" by a prostitute met on a bus. He hijacked it and began asking riddles, killing and robbing anyone that got them wrong. The Question quickly subdues him by asking him philosophical riddles in return. He is outwitted and has a nervous breakdown before being set free as a reward for getting one last riddle right.
Recently the name "Edward Nashton" appears as a person writing to the Gotham Times as part of the viral marketing campaign set up to promote the The Dark Knight.
While Tim Burton was slated to direct Batman Forever, his intention was to have Michael Keaton return as the title character, and use the Riddler (Edward Nygma) as the main villain, who would be portrayed as a menacing psychopath with a question mark shaved into his hair. Robin Williams was the first choice for the role, but he turned it down. Burton went on to cast Micky Dolenz, who screen tested for the role. Dolenz's involvement ended once Joel Schumacher was hired to direct. Schumacher instead decided to bank on Jim Carrey for the role. Michael Jackson approached Schumacher about the role but Schumacher felt that there was not a place for Jackson in the film. Carrey had stated that he was attracted to the "stalker" angle added to the character in the script. Nygma is shown to be obsessed with his idol Bruce Wayne, his turn to crime a result of Wayne's rejection of his mind-manipulation invention. Throughout the film, Nygma obsesses over Wayne, copying Wayne's appearance down to a facial mole, and he prevents Two-Face from killing him.
The Riddler has also appeared in several video games based on Batman. He was a boss in Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the SNES, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD and various video game adaptations of Batman Forever. The SNES game had Riddler re-using the Riddle of the Minotaur Maze from "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" (but this time with the Gordons as hostages) and the chess board from "What Is Reality?". In the Sega CD game, which had fully-animated cut scenes, John Glover reprised his role as the Riddler.
In the PC game Toxic Chill, Riddler teams up with Mr. Freeze. The majority of the game is spent gathering clues whilst battling Freeze, Riddler, and the Riddler's gang with help from Batgirl and Alfred. The Riddler in the game closely resembles the one in Batman: The Animated Series.
He is mentioned by the JLA's Watchtower recorder in Justice League Heroes. The message, sent to Batman, is "Just now, a toy sells death".
The Riddler will be a character in Lego Batman: The Video Game. As opposed to other games, in which he appears in his modern outfit(with an elegant suit and his hat), in this game his costume resembles Frank Gorshin's suit (a suit with a question mark and a mask). He is one of the three masterminds of the Arkham breakout in the game; and leads Clayface, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Two-Face, with the goal of stealing the contents of the Gotham Gold Reserve.
The character will appear in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The Riddler is one of the rarest of Pacipa's Super Amigos line, the Argentinian version of Kenner's Super Powers Collection. He is a repainted Green Lantern figure that was only released in South America. He was also part of the line of action figures called the DC Comics SuperHeroes from Toy-Biz.
Three versions of the Riddler have appeared in the DC Direct line, two based on his first appearance and one based on his look in the Hush storyline. The Japanese toy company Yamato has also produced a figure of him.
Most recently, Mattel has included a figure based on Paul Dini's current incarnation of the character in its DC Universe toyline.