This week, a new look at Paul Dano’s Riddler from The Batman went up online, our first full look at the character who has only been glimpsed in the trailers.
From those trailers, it seemed like The Riddler was taking a bit of inspiration from the Zodiac Killer, the real-life serial killer who communicated in cryptic codes and was never caught. But now these new looks show that The Batman’s Riddler is not just taking inspiration from Zodiac, he is…more or less a carbon copy of the description of the famed killer.
Here’s the new look at Riddler, and its clear roots in Robert Graysmith’s sketch of Zodiac:
I mean, come on. It’s everything, from the glasses over the mask to the crosshair, just with a question mark in the middle instead.
We have also already seen that this Riddler communicates not just in riddles, but in a Zodiac-like code. Here’s a look at that, found inside a card.
And here’s one of the Zodiac’s original coded messages with made-up symbols, some of which took decades to decipher.
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This code style was also used in other Batman promotions, which fans were challenged to decipher:
This one reportedly reads “You are the winged rat.” Burn!
While I’m certainly hoping The Batman turns out to be good, The Riddler/Zodiac parallels seem a bit on the nose, both in terms of his look and his use of ciphers. I think you can draw inspiration from real-life influences, but this is practically like turning a real life killer, who murdered very real people, into a comic book villain and that feels both weird and creatively…not great.
The movie has at least one other villain that we know about, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, where his portrayal is kind of Al Capone-ish, but not quite as dead on as what we’re seeing here with The Riddler/Zodiac. There’s a rumored third villain that may debut as well, but I won’t discuss that here, in case that pans out and turns into a spoiler.
Anyway, this is just…odd. We’ll see how he comes off on film, but knowing even anything at all about Zodiac makes this more than a little strange to see.