Not much is known about the Riddler's early life. On one occasion, it was mentioned that he was a high school dropout.
The Riddler committed a wide variety of crimes over his life, some aimed purely toward profit and others toward destroying - or unmasking - his archenemy Batman. Unlike arch-criminals such as the Joker or the Penguin, who only occasionally sent clues hinting at their future crimes, the Riddler would always send Gotham's law enforcement a riddle before embarking on a crime spree.
The Riddler v. Batman
On one occasion, the Riddler attempted to defeat Batman by using the law instead of opposing it. The wily criminal delivered two riddles to Batman, both pointing to a heist at the Peale Art Gallery. Upon arriving at the gallery, Batman and Robin saw the Riddler apparently taking a jeweled cross from the gallery owner at gunpoint, and immediately attacked and arrested the Riddler. Gleefully, the Riddler replied that he was innocent: the cross was his property, on loan to the gallery, and the "gun" was only a lighter. The Riddler then sued Batman for false arrest, knowing that once the case went to court, Batman would have to reveal his true identity to testify — thus ending his crimefighting career forever. Both parties, however, were aware that the lawsuit would be invalidated if the plaintiff himself was arrested. Thus, the Dynamic Duo began to investigate the Riddler's plans in earnest, soon finding two more riddles in the subpoena that the Count of Conundrums had issued. The riddles led the duo — as the Riddler had intended — to a nightclub that Robin was too young to enter. Once Robin was left outside to guard the Batmobile while Batman investigated alone, the Riddler and his gang swooped in and drugged both into unconsciousness. The Riddler's plans for the Batmobile, however, were less successful; the car's defense systems foiled all attempts at theft or destruction. Pressed for time, the Riddler kidnapped the unconscious Robin instead.
Once he brought Robin back to his hideout, the Riddler produced a perfect mold of Robin's face, along with a replica of the Boy Wonder's costume. He used these items to disguise his henchwoman Molly as Robin, and challenged Batman to come retrieve his sidekick, planning to trick Batman into revealing his secrets to Molly. The ruse worked at first, but Batman eventually saw through Molly's disguise; soon, he had tracked down the Riddler's location and rescued the true Robin. Despite this setback, the Riddler successfully escaped the Dynamic Duo and initiated his real plan: stealing the Mammoth of Moldavia, a mammoth stuffed with priceless stamps that was on display at the Gotham World's Fair. Though the heist began smoothly, the Riddler and his men soon encountered Batman and Robin once again. During the ensuing brawl, the Riddler inadvertently fired his gun at a tank of flammable gas, igniting an explosion. Though the Riddler was apparently caught in the blast, his body was not found. Nevertheless, he failed to appear in court on the set date; thus, his lawsuit against Batman was voided.
The Riddler eventually resurfaced with a new gang and a new scheme, timed to coincide with a visit to Gotham City by foreign dignitary King Boris. The crafty criminal stashed a riddle in an exploding bouquet of flowers, which was shipped to the airport receiving the king's flight. The riddle quickly attracted attention from Batman and Robin, who concluded from it that the Riddler planned to steal a priceless tiara from a local beauty pageant. To foil the Count of Conundrums, Batman swapped the tiara with a paste replica containing a homing device. The Riddler, however, had expected such a plan; shortly after stealing the fake tiara, he flung it aside and mocked the Dynamic Duo, before leaving another riddle and fleeing into the sewers. Subsequently, the Riddler and his gang invaded a gentleman's club and successfully abducted their true target: King Boris. Batman and Robin quickly pursued the outlaws into their hideout, but were soon overpowered and placed inside a deathtrap. The Riddler, confident that the lawmen would die, whispered one last, taunting riddle to the duo and had his men release King Boris — but not before planting a bomb inside a statuette that the king intended to display at the Gotham City Hall of Fame.
A stroke of luck, however, allowed Batman and Robin to escape the Riddler's deathtrap unharmed. The Riddler and his men, unaware of this development, delivered an ultimatum to the police: the city was to pay one million dollars in ransom, or a bomb planted inside the Gotham City Hall of Fame would be detonated. To ensure that the exchange went smoothly, the Riddler sent an underling disguised as Batman to give the police fallacious "advice" on how to handle the matter. Unfortunately, the impersonator was spotted by the real Batman — in the identity of Bruce Wayne. From the incident and the Riddler's final riddle, Batman correctly deduced the location of the bomb. Thus, when the Riddler and his gang arrived at the Hall of Fame to claim the ransom, they were quickly treated to several unpleasant surprises: the "ransom" was nothing but a disguised smoke bomb, the Dynamic Duo were alive and well, and the Riddler's bomb had already been deactivated. Immediately afterward, the Dynamic Duo beat the Count of Conundrums and his underlings into submission, and returned the outlaws to prison.
- Pistol-Shaped Cigarette Lighter: A novelty cigarette lighter shaped like a handgun, used to mimic an armed robbery without actually committing any crime.
- Tranquilizer Gun: An airsoft rifle that fired darts tipped in sedative chemicals.
- Instant Compound X: A chemical meant to be used in conjunction with a plaster mask, after the latter has been adhered to a human face. The chemical creates a near-flawless mask mimicking the contours of that face.
- Aerosols A & B: A pair of aerosol cans labeled "A" and "B". Can A sprayed a chemical that awoke the unconscious. Can B sprayed a chemical that knocked out the conscious.
- Laughing Gas: Gas that induced uncontrollable laughter in those who breathed it without protection; extended exposure resulted in unconsciousness.
- Rolls-Royce: An ordinary automobile used to lead the Batmobile on a chase around Gotham City's outskirts. The Riddler stocked it with crash helmets, in case of an emergency; indeed, the car was destroyed in a violent crash shortly after its ignition was cut by the Batmobile's Bat-Ray.
- Super-Adhesive: A chemical spray that became incredibly sticky upon contact with air. For maximum effect, it was sprayed in conjunction with the wind produced from a handheld fan.
- Explosives: The Riddler used all manner of explosives in his schemes, from time bombs to grenades; some of his riddles were even delivered through bombs.
- Firearms: The Riddler used ordinary guns as both weapons and as signal devices.
- Drive Shafts: A pair of power plant turbines re-purposed by the Riddler. Victims are bound the the turbines, which are then set to spin at around one thousand revolutions per second. According to the Riddler, the centrifugal force resulting from this velocity will quickly tear the victims' bones straight from their bodies.
- This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the television series Batman and is an adaptation of Edward Nigma/Riddler. The original character was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang and first appeared in Detective Comics #140.
Behind the Scenes
For the majority of the run of the 1966 Batman series, the Riddler was played by American actor and comedian Frank Gorshin. Unlike many of his co-stars, Gorshin had been a fan of Batman comic books since childhood, and expressed a particular fondness for the Riddler.
Gorshin's Riddler was the main villain of very first episode of Batman, a move that allegedly stemmed from the fact that the Riddler was "safer" in appearance than more well-known villains such as the Joker or the Penguin. The Riddler's (relatively) mundane costume and physical features were supposedly meant to placate the ABC Network executives whom the show was being marketed to. According to Gorshin, he underwent no formal audition for the role of the Riddler. "The key," he recalled, "had to be his [the Riddler's] laugh". To this end, Gorshin created a deranged, high-pitched cackle for the Riddler, which firmly established the character as simultaneously whimsical and menacing. Gorshin also created the Riddler's "alternative" costume: a bowler hat, tie, and green suit, all carrying question marks. Gorshin wore the outfit whenever possible, as he disliked wearing the character's traditional spandex costume.
The character proved highly popular with audiences; during the first season of the show, in fact, Gorshin's Riddler appeared in more storylines than any other villain, and was even nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. However, despite the popularity of Gorshin's Riddler, strains began to appear between Gorshin and the producers of the show as the show entered its second season. Gorshin began to request a larger salary for his appearances, which the producers refused to grant, as the show was already undergoing budget cuts. During these negotiations, a storyline planned for the Riddler was re-tooled to instead feature a new villain, the Puzzler.
After the salary disputes drove Gorshin from the show entirely, the Riddler was recast with actor John Astin, best known for portraying Gomez Addams on The Addams Family (1964-66). Astin's Riddler appeared in only one storyline — ultimately the only storyline in the series' second season to feature the Riddler. Though Gorshin expressed his distaste at being replaced, he continued to maintain that the replacement had stemmed from the show's shooting schedule conflicting with a nightclub commitment. Eventually, after Batman had entered its third season, Gorshin was persuaded to return to the series for one more storyline as the Riddler.
The Riddler made his final appearance in the show's penultimate episode, alongside the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, Egghead, and King Tut. Like those of the Riddler's fellow arch-criminals, this appearance was played by an uncredited actor.
- In the 2016 animated film, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, the Riddler was voiced by Wally Wingert.
Prior to the debut of the 1966 Batman series, the Riddler had been an extremely minor villain who had appeared in only three comic book storylines, two of which had been published nearly twenty years prior. Gorshin's energetic performance, however, made the character's popularity skyrocket, and firmly entrenched the Riddler as one of Batman's most famous enemies in the public imagination.
In addition to the laugh, Gorshin's portrayal of the Riddler established two even more iconic traits for the character. One was the "Riddle me this/riddle me that" catchphrase, which came to be associated with the character in general. The other was the character's "alternative" bowler-hat-and-tie costume, which became a mainstay of most future depictions of the character. Especially ones that strove to establish a more "serious" appearance for the character.
Overall, Gorshin's Riddler was, and continues to be, widely lauded by audiences and critics alike as one of the greatest - if not the greatest - of the villains to have been featured on the 1966 Batman series.
- A figure of Frank Gorshin's portrayal of the Riddler has been confirmed to be part of Mattel's upcoming series of action figures based off of the 1966 Batman series.
- 31 Appearances of Edward Nigma (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- 15 Images featuring Edward Nigma (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- 3 Quotations by or about Edward Nigma (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- Character Gallery: Edward Nigma (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- ↑ According to Lee Meriwether, during her recollections of working on Batman: The Movie in The Official Batman Batbook: The Revised Bat Edition by Joel Eisner, page 138.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Eisner, Joel (1986). The Official Batman Batbook. Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-8092-5035-7
- ↑ The Official Batman Batbook: The Revised Bat Edition by Joel Eisner, page 278.
- ↑ Staff (February 15, 2013), "New York Toy Fair 2013: Adam West 'Batman,' 'Game of Thrones' & More", Comic Book Resources
|1966-1968 Batman television series and the 1966 Batman feature film. This template will categorize articles that include it into Batman TV Series Characters.|
|Batman Villain(s) from the 1966 series |
This character, team or organization, was primarily an enemy of the Batman in either the 1966 film or related television show. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Batman (1966 TV Series) Villains category."