- "Riddle me this, riddle me that. Who's afraid of the big black bat?."
- ―The Riddler to Batman[src]
The Riddler was the chosen alias of criminal genius Edward Nygma.
After he was rejected by his idol, Bruce Wayne, for one of his inventions, Nygma turned to crime and used his scientific knowledge for evil, becoming a crazed, demented villain who always marked his crimes with riddles.
Wayne Enterprises employee
- "I'm sucking up your IQ, vacuuming the cortex, feeding off your brain."
- ―Edward Nygma sing-songingly taunting his boss, Fred Stickley, while utilizing his neural energy.[src]
Edward Nygma became a researcher under the employment of Wayne Enterprises. He idolized the proprietor Bruce Wayne and had several magazines with his face on them all over his work cubicle. He later developed a device to beam television directly into a person's brain. Fred Stickley, the head of the research department was not impressed and put a halt on it, terminating the project.
When Nygma heard that Bruce Wayne was coming to visit, Nygma was determined to show it to him, so he could have his full permission to make his project a reality. However he didn't get the answer he was hoping for because Bruce was convinced that mind manipulation was too dangerous and would raise too many questions, so he turned the idea down.
Murder of Fred Stickley
Nygma felt angry and disappointed, but continued to work on it after hours. When Stickley discovered Nygma's clandestine overtime on the invention he had previously terminated, Nygma knocked him unconscious, tied him to a chair and used him to test his device. While Stickley was being mesmerized by his 3D TV, Nygma discovered that he could use it to absorb people's knowledge to become smarter.
After finding out what Nygma had done and realizing that Bruce Wayne was right about it being mind manipulation, Stickley was furious and fired Nygma on the spot, but Nygma murdered him by pushing him out of the window to the reservoir below. He then craftily altered the security tapes to make Stickley's death look like a suicide, and then resigned from Wayne Enterprises, deciding to get even with Wayne for rejecting him and become rich and famous himself.
Alliance with Two-Face
- "Just a friend. But you can call me The Riddler."
- ―The Riddler introducing himself to Two-Face[src]
Nygma, who stalked Wayne and left riddles for him, was inspired and delighted by watching Two-Face's raid at the circus on live television and created his own alter-ego in the form of The Riddler, the master of puzzles and quizzes. Nygma perfected his brain-manipulation device into a system, "The Box", which beamed signals to and from the human brain in order to simulate an immersive television-viewing experience.
The device allowed Riddler to read viewers' minds, as well as augment his own intelligence. Using his device, the Riddler found Two-Face at his hideout, and proposed a deal that would benefit them both: they would mass-produce the brain-manipulation device to become Gotham's clever carbon-based lifeforms and discover Batman's true identity so that they could use it to their advantage to plot out his downfall. Seeing the advantage of the device, Two-Face agreed (due to his coin flip marking heads in favor of the deal), and they became partners-in-crime in order to fund mass-production of the device. With enough capital to start mass-production of his invention, the Riddler readopted his Edward Nygma identity, opened his own business company that was called NygmaTech, and sold thousands of his devices to many of Gotham's citizens, who found his inventions very impressive. Nygma then built his corporate headquarters on Claw Island, which was ten miles away from Gotham City. With his wealth he secretly began turning the island into a metal fortress with death traps designed to kill Batman. A large control room was built with a throne made of two gold statues of The Thinker as arm rests. Above the chair was a much larger version of the green brainwave antenna than the hand-held versions that Two-Face and his molls were permitted to use.
With the Box fad being an overnight success, it allowed NygmaTech to gain overwhelming profit, and the Riddler started to feed on the citizens' minds every time they used his inventions to make himself more intelligent; and he even allowed Two-Face to receive his share of feeding off the citizens' minds, which made Two-Face more intelligent as well. Following his successful marketing of the invention, Nygma hosted a launch event for a set-top version of his device, to which many citizens attended, including Bruce Wayne himself. Nygma convinced an unwitting Bruce to try it, which resulted in Riddler and Two-Face finally discovering his alter ego as Batman, much to their delight.
On the night of Halloween, Riddler and Two-Face later converged upon Wayne Manor. While Dent and his thugs stormed the mansion, Riddler used a device in his cane to find a hidden door and hacked the electronic lock. After walking down the stairwell he discovered a large cave with Wayne's secret armory and crime lab. Riddler destroyed everything he could see with bat shaped bombs, this included the Batmobile and all of his black Batman uniforms. When Riddler walked back upstairs he found Two-Face about to murder an unconscious Bruce Wayne with a gunshot to the head. Reacting in extreme displeasure, Nygma talked him out of it, emphatic that "If you kill 'im, he won't learn nothin'." Two-Face was reminded of the bigger plans they had for him on the island and agreed. They left a final riddle for Bruce and kidnapped Dr. Chase Meridian.
- "Now, the real game begins!."
- ―The Riddler[src]
After Bruce regained consciousness, he and his butler Alfred eventually solved the greater riddle that was concealed in the riddles that were left for them. Each one had a number in the question itself:
1. "If you look for numbers on my face, you won't find thirteen any place."
- Answer: A Clock
2. "Tear one off and scratch my head; what once was red is black instead."
- Answer: A Match
3. "The eight of us go forth, not back, to protect our king from a foe's attack."
- Answer: Chess Pawns
4. "We're five little items of an everyday sort; you'll find us all in 'a tennis court'."
- Answer: Vowels
Each number corresponded to a letter in the alphabet, with 1 and 8 that were digits for the number 18. 13 being "M", 18 for "R" and 5 for "E", M-R-E, or "Mr. E"- mystery, or enigma- Mr. E. Nygma, Edward Nygma.
Nygma was drugging the captive Dr. Meridian during this time and taunting her while she was chained to his couch. Riddler tried to impress her with a smoking jacket that had blinking green neon lights, joking that it keeps him safe while jogging at night. Chase told the Riddler that Batman would come for her, but upon expecting to see that he would be scoffing at it, Riddler instead admitted that he was actually counting on Batman to come as part of his plan.
The Riddler's wrath forced Batman to change costumes, a Sonar Batsuit, a untested prototype with retractable lenses built into the cowl. Wayne also approached Claw Island with a new sidekick driving a Batboat while he took to the skies in the Batwing. As the vehicles approached his aquatic lair, Riddler and Two-Face used a weapon control system designed to resemble Milton Bradley's Battleship board game. A green laser fired from the tower causing the plane to crash into the sea. Two-Face activated a mine and destroyed the boat. Nygma then ordered a group of Riddler-branded scuba guards to capture the duo but they failed. After trapping the frogmen in a net and chaining them to a Buoy, the caped crusaders were quickly separated after swimming ashore. Batman fought his way through the Riddler's deadly traps, while Two-Face went to confront Robin on the surface. Robin was tricked by Dent in the fight, who used his boyish empathy against him and Two-Face brought him to the Riddler.
Meanwhile, Batman finally reached the Riddler, who sat in usual throne, surrounded by obfuscating neon signs and festive light shows. Nygma had also outfitted himself in a new silvery white costume, adorned with glittery rhinestones. Riddler revealed Chase and Robin, who were bound and gagged with duct tape and were imprisoned in large glass containers over a large, and deadly pit of water and metal spikes.
The Riddler challenged Batman with the greatest riddle of all ("Can Bruce Wayne and Batman ever truly co-exist?"), and gave him the choice of rescuing either Chase or Robin. Batman decided to distract the Prince of Puzzlers with a riddle of his own. Unable to resist, the Riddler took his hand off of the control that would drop the two, sat back down on his throne, and listened eagerly. Batman gave his riddle: "I see without seeing. To me, darkness is as clear as daylight. What am I?". The Riddler scoffed and gave him the answer: "You're as blind as a bat!". The Dark Knight affirmed that answer, and activated the Batsuit's sonar-imaging lenses, which allowed him to accurately hurl a silver hi-tech Batarang at the brain-wave hub, shattering it to pieces. The brain beam immediately malfunctioned and overloaded, warping the shape of Riddler's head, causing severe brain damage. Before the Riddler collapsed, he sprung the trap doors in Robin's and Chase's cages, and sent them plummeting to their apparent doom. In defiance of Nygma's sadistic choice, Batman was able to save them both using the grapple-lines in his new gauntlets.
- "Why? Why can't I kill you? Too many questions. Too many questions."
- ―The Riddler suffering a mental breakdown in front of Batman after his lair's destruction.[src]
After tricking Two-Face into falling to his death, Batman returned to the Riddler's destroyed lair and found Edward; his mind enfeebled by the overload of brainwaves and his body was horribly scarred from the explosion. Taking light to his former employee's plight, Batman finally answered Nygma's riddle and said: "I had to save them both. You see, I'm both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Not because I have to be, now, because I choose to be". Just as Batman moved closer to him, the Riddler screamed in terror as he experienced Bruce's memory of the first bat that ever terrified him.
With both of the villains defeated, Batman turned Nygma to the GCPD, who then sentenced him to be committed at Arkham Asylum for his crimes against Gotham, and his company was sunk. Chase was asked to consult on Nygma's case by Dr. Burton after she was told that he had screamed for hours that he knew who Batman was. After she wondered if the Riddler had indeed remembered the information that was taken from Bruce's brain that concerned Batman's identity, Chase went to his cell. Chase identified herself and then asked Riddler if he remembered her. When he answers affirmatively, the Riddler offered to reveal the identity of Batman to Chase if she said "please". Chase did so, and the Riddler responded by telling her that he himself was Batman, and as if to prove his point, he started to flap his arms as if to imitate a bat while he laughed maniacally; his stolen memories were scrambled upon the brainwave hub's destruction. At that point, Chase came out to tell Bruce that his secret was safe, and confirmed that Nygma was now a complete lunatic.
Riddler's jacket and derby hat were kept at Arkham's Criminal Property Locker, along with one of Two-Face's jackets and slacks. A few years later Bane and Poison Ivy caught a glimpse of Nygma and Dent's custom clothing when they stole Victor Fries' cryo-suit from the guards. This seemed to make little to no impact on the pair.
Behind the Scenes
- Jim Carrey portrayed the Riddler with Frank Gorshin as his stated primary influence. Carrey also said that he was attracted to the "stalker" angle that was added to the character in the script. Nygma was shown to be obsessed with his idol Bruce Wayne, and his turn to crime was a result of Wayne's rejection of his mind-manipulation invention. Throughout the film, Nygma obsessed over Wayne, even copied Wayne's appearance down to a facial mole, and prevented Two-Face from killing him. That version of the Riddler employed a device that was called "The Box", which was disguised as a 3D imagery device for TVs, that extracted victims' thoughts and transmitted them into the Riddler's head, which made him smarter and ultimately contributed to his mental breakdown. In the end, Batman destroyed the Box with a Batarang, and Riddler's intelligence (as well as his sanity) was lost. According to an interview with Janet Scott Batchler, Burton's only involvement with Batman Forever was approving Schumacher as director and Lee and Janet Scott Batchler as writers. Burton did not contribute any story ideas. Due to the character's popularity, the Batchlers decided to use the Riddler as a villain against Bruce Wayne and wrote their own origin for him. In the early drafts, Riddler's real name was Lyle Heckendorf and his rival company was called HeckTech. A scene in the early drafts that didn't make it into the final film featured Lyle stalking Bruce at the circus and stealing the clothes of a performing circus leprechaun. The leprechaun suit then formed the basis for the Riddler outfit. Once the script was written, Schumacher courted Robin Williams for the role, but Williams turned it down again.
- Rick Baker designed the disfigurement makeup for Riddler seen at the end of the film.
- Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey didn't get along.
- Schumacher commented on working with Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones: "I was told that Val was difficult and wasn't [right] for me. (...) Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him. I'm tired of defending overpaid, over privileged actors. I pray I don't work with them again."
- Bob Kane remained on set almost every single day during filming.
- In October 1993, Robin Williams stated that he was in talks for the role, and commented on his enthusiasm. Williams had previously expressed interest for the role of The Joker in Batman, although he lost out to Jack Nicholson and expressed interest in the role a second time in The Dark Knight, but lost out a second time to Heath Ledger, who was cast. Ultimately in June 1994, Carrey was cast after Williams had turned down the role. Schumacher had known Carrey since the mid-1980s, roughly ten years before he became commercially famous. After Carrey's role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Warner Brothers and Schumacher felt that he was perfect for the part. Michael Jackson had previously opted hard to land the role, but was ignored. Matthew Broderick also expressed interest in the role. Carrey went through over 50 different spandex outfits and over 100 different props for his cane.
- Throughout the film, Riddler plants a series of riddles for Batman/Bruce to find, which lead to the disclosure of his identity. At the end of the film, Riddler was captured, taken to Arkham Asylum, and began to scream that he learned Batman's identity - himself. The storyline of the Riddler becoming supremely psychotic even served as the springboard for the character's actions in the 2003 LEGO fan film, Batman: Revenge.
- Though Two-Face had thugs throughout Batman Forever, the Riddler only had a group of Frogmen in a scene near the end of the film, who were captured by Batman in a net.
- There was a scene in Batman Forever in which the Riddler punched someone in the face and hurt his hand from it. That could possibly have been a reference to the fight scene at the end of the 1966 Batman movie, where the Riddler tried to punch Batman, but missed and hit one of the masts of the submarine instead.
- The filmmakers claimed they were indeed aware of reports that Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones had "stolen the show." Jones quoted: "I don't want to be too fussy about language, but the idea of stealing scenes or stealing movies is nothing that I am comfortable with at all. I don't think that way. I look at the job at hand and try to do as well as I can with that job." Carrey stated: "I just hope I am doing it right; is it coming together? You can't think about that stuff because that would be, like, capsize time." Carrey was nominated for the MTV "Best Villain" Award along with Jones.
- In the planned sequel to Batman & Robin, which was titled Batman Unchained, the Riddler would have returned as a hallucination induced by the Scarecrow's Fear Gas.