No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
Let's Keep on Riddling!

Firefilm | 30 Jul 2012 16:00
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Kyle: So, this was quite an episode. It seems like every time we do a Batman-oriented episode, there is in fact a right answer, so we have to make a caveat. A proviso. A limitation. A quid pro quo.

Sorry, I'll stop that. Anyway, factoring the Joker out of the equation makes this a genuine No Right Answer situation, where it's all based on personal preference. I personally have a preference for Batman villains that challenge him mentally. And the Riddler is completely based off of that idea. He's no match physically (really, very few of the rogues are) but he's a genius. And really he was fully capable of being Batman himself if you disregard the physicality.

That last point may telegraph that Ra's al Ghul is the better fit, but he's missing the one thing that every Batman villain should have: a full-blown psychosis. And the Riddler's compulsion to leave clues to be found is such an appropriate one. It mirrors Batman in that both men have a shining brilliance that is both impaired and aided by their need for theatrics.

I touched on something during the debate that I should expand on: Two-Face has been portrayed on screen several times, and he's been done right. The Riddler has not been given his due. If Christopher Nolan had used the Riddler, everyone would see the character for the wonderful psychotic genius that he is. Unfortunately, because everyone's lasting impressions of the Riddler are Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey, he's remembered as a more buffoonish and less effective knock-off of the Joker.

Further, I understand and agree that Harvey Dent's downfall into madness is one great origin for a villain. Plus it gives Batman lots to think about and feel guilty about when he busts his old ally. But beyond the transformation, Two-Face is not very interesting. He's obsessed with the number two and the concept of duality. He's also a stickler for a warped sense of justice. That gets old pretty quickly. And after the initial shock and guilt wears off, Batman sees him about the same as any other whack-job causing trouble.

Meanwhile, the Riddler's origin is a more understandable and believable starting point for an insane criminal. Abused as a child and called a moron and a cheater, part of his obsession with leaving clues is to earn the recognition for his intelligence that he never got as a child. In a way, he has to get caught. But if he does, he fails. It's as big a personal tragedy as Dent, but much more internal and personal.

Anyway, that's why I'd like to see more of him.

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