The Batman's Riddler Redesign Draws Attention After New Art Leaks

Matt Reeves has a new take on the Riddler and it seems to be based on a real-life serial killer

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New images of Matt Reeves' The Batman have surfaced online, giving fans an up close and personal look at Paul Dano's Riddler, who was featured in the movie's first trailer released last year. The design is a distinct departure from Riddler's traditional green suit, instead featuring what looked like a black balaclava and bulky surplus jacket as he wrapped a victim's head in duct tape with the message "no more lies."

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Still, the trailer was fast paced and lit in a way that the mask itself was mostly obscured. This isn't the case for one of the images on the leaked images for a 2022 calendar. Dano's Riddler is apparently Mr. May. The art brings the design into stark relief, showcasing its very stylized leather mouthpiece, eyes, and even what looks like a neon green "signature" in the form of a question mark-slash-crosshairs design.

For the true crime fans, the parallels to real life serial killer the Zodiac are obvious. Zodiac, who infamously created cyphers and cryptograms (some of which were not cracked until 2020), was active in California in the 1960s and '70s. He was never caught or identified, and "officially" took the lives of 5 victims, though he claimed to have killed 37. Notably, Zodiac's communication with police and journalists included a distinctive crosshairs-like signature, which the signature on Riddler's headshot is clearly nodding to. Also notably, survivors reported that Zodiac wore a bag-like mask to cover his face.

While no photographs of the real Zodiac exist, David Fincher recreated the look based on these reports for his 2007 thriller of the same name.

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The connection and inspiration for Reeves's Riddler is obvious--and clearly in-line with the more gritty, grounded take on the Batman universe he seems interested in making. Reeves has been vocal about his focus on Batman as a detective in this movie, rather than a martial artist or swashbuckling adventurer, so what better way to emphasize his powers of deduction than to pit him against someone taking their cues from a real-life unsolved case?

Still, the departure from the norm here is extreme. While superheroes and villains are no stranger to drastic redesigns, some elements of their costumes become permanent fixtures. For Riddler, who was introduced back in the comics back in 1948, a motif of bright green and question marks has always been part of the deal. He started out wearing a neon green, skin-tight spandex suit covered in black question marks--a design that even made it over to the live-action Batman '66 TV show. Later, the green spandex was traded for a green suit and bowler hat. Since then, some variation or combination of the spandex and the suit has featured in virtually every major Riddler appearance across any medium. He's also almost always a redhead (with the major exception of his animated appearance in 2004's The Batman cartoon, where he was inexplicably goth, complete with makeup and long black hair.)

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With that in mind, it's probably too soon to assume that the costume seen in the calendar image and trailer are the only Riddler looks we'll be seeing in The Batman--after all, both the coat and the mask seem pretty bulky and not the most conducive to blending into a crowd or running away from a man in a super advanced Bat costume. Paul Dano probably won't show up wearing a leotard at some point in the movie, but a suit coat might not be out of the question--we'll just have to wait and see.

The Batman is slated to hit theaters on March 4, 2022.

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