Matt Reeves’ new Batman reboot, aptly titled The Batman, might not totally reinvent the wheel, but it’s a spot-on portrait of the Caped Crusader that nicely balances the familiar with the fresh. It’s the first Batman movie to really shed a light on the Dark Knight’s sleuthing abilities with a full-blown detective noir. The riddles and ciphers left behind by the Riddler during his anti-corruption killing spree provided the perfect groundwork for the Bat’s first big-screen detective story.
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Batman and Jim Gordon team up as a kind of “buddy cop” duo in their pursuit of the Riddler, cracking ciphers and deconstructing puzzles. Some of The Batman’s riddles are easier to figure out than others. While it’s obvious that justice is the thing that “can be cruel, poetic, or blind,” it’s not so obvious that “you are el…” is pointing to a URL.
10 It Can Be Cruel, Poetic, Or Blind…
The first of three riddles that the Riddler gives to District Attorney Gil Colson for the chance to disable his collar bomb is, “It can be cruel, poetic, or blind. But when it’s denied, it’s violence you may find.”
It’s possible that the Riddler’s goal was to calm Colson’s nerves with the first one, because it’s by far the easiest riddle in the movie. As soon as the words “cruel,” “poetic,” and “blind” come up, it’s obvious that the answer is “justice.”
9 Follow The Maze Until You Find The Rat
This one is pretty on-the-nose: “Follow the maze until you find the rat. Bring him into the light and you’ll find where I’m at.” The Riddler did a nice job with the rhyming, but the riddle itself isn’t very complicated – it practically explains itself. The “maze” is a metaphor for Gotham’s seedy underbelly and the “rat” is the undisclosed police informant who incriminated Sal Maroni.
“Bring him into the light and you’ll find where I’m at” is a promise that the Riddler will reveal himself publicly if Batman reveals the informant publicly. “Bring him into the light” turns out to be more literal as the Riddler waits for the informant – gangland rival Carmine Falcone – to be taken under the flickering light outside the Iceberg Lounge before shooting him dead with a sniper rifle.
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8 What Does A Liar Do When He’s Dead?
The Riddler kicked off his killing spree with a nice easy riddle. The question is “What does a liar do when he’s dead?” and the answer, of course, is, “He lies still.” This is great wordplay, and it ties in well with the Riddler’s crusade against the lies of corrupt politicians.
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To really hammer home the anti-lying message, after bludgeoning Mayor Mitchell to death with a carpet tucker, the Riddler duct-tapes his entire head and writes, “No more lies,” across his face.
7 See You In Hell
“See you in Hell” is more of a teaser than a riddle. It means that the Riddler will see Batman from behind bars while he’s detained at Arkham Asylum (which is a kind of Hell).
The Bat doesn’t actually have to figure out the answer to this riddle, because Edward Nashton requests a meeting with him as soon as he gets to Arkham. When Batman gets there, the imprisoned Riddler tells him, “I told you I’d see you in Hell.”
6 Tell Us Which Vermin You’re Paid To Protect
The Riddler’s final riddle for Colson to earn his freedom has real stakes: “Since your justice is so select, please tell us which vermin you’re paid to protect.” The “vermin” references the Riddler’s earlier “rat with wings” riddle.
Batman quickly deduces (as does the audience) that the Riddler wants Colson to reveal the informant who brought down the Maroni syndicate. Colson refuses to give up the answer and allows the collar bomb to go off because he’s so terrified of the repercussions of ratting out Falcone.
5 I Grew Up From A Seed, As Tough As A Weed
After Batman and Jim Gordon figure out that “rata alada” is a URL, the Riddler slides this riddle into Batman’s DMs on the Bat-laptop: “I grew up from a seed, as tough as a weed. But in a mansion, in a slum, I’ll never know where I come from. Do you know what I am?”
Batman knows the answer right away – an orphan – because he shares the same backstory. This points Batman and Gordon to the orphanage, where the Riddler’s next clue is. This one is a surprisingly emotional riddle for the Bat because he’s an orphan himself.
4 What Is The Price For Your Blind Eye?
The Riddler’s second riddle for Colson goes, “If you are justice, please do not lie. What is the price for your blind eye?” This isn’t a regular riddle; it’s a smear campaign against the D.A.
The Riddler wants Colson to give up information that would incriminate him. The price of Colson’s “blind eye” is whatever he charges the mob for not prosecuting certain cases. Apparently, he gets paid a whopping $10,000 a month for his “blind eye.”
3 You Are El Rata Alada
Alfred translates the Riddler’s “el rata alada” clue to “the rat with wings,” although the Spanish is a little off. Upon seeing the riddle, the Penguin declares it to be “like the worst Spanish I ever heard,” because the correct form would be “la rata alada.”
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Since the Riddler doesn’t make mistakes, Batman tries to figure out why he wrote “el” instead of “la.” Then, he pieces together that “you are el” is a play on the term URL. Batman pops open the Bat-laptop and goes to www.rataalada.com, where he opens a chat window with the Riddler. The “you are el”/URL connection is a bit of a stretch, but it’s an interesting brain-teaser nonetheless.
2 What’s Black And Blue And Dead All Over?
This riddle – “What’s black and blue and dead all over?” – isn’t actually answered in the movie itself. But it’s heavily insinuated that the answer is Batman. He’s “black” because of the costume, “blue” because of his deep-seated rage and sadness, and “dead all over” thanks to his irreparable psychological scars.
Plus, he’s beaten “black and blue” by the street thugs of Gotham. In his shirtless scenes, this Bruce Wayne is shown to be covered in bruises and battle scars. So, there’s a good chance he’s the answer to this cryptic riddle.
1 The Less Of Them You Have, The More One Is Worth
Ironically, the best riddle in the movie isn’t one of the Riddler’s; it’s one of the Joker’s. When the “unnamed Arkham prisoner” played by Barry Keoghan introduces himself to the Riddler, he says, “Riddle me this: the less of them you have, the more one is worth.” The answer is friends.
The Clown Prince of Crime uses this riddle to befriend Edward Nashton from an adjacent cell. The Joker is likely being set up as the “big bad” of The Batman trilogy. He’s probably cooking up a large-scale diabolical scheme and allying with the Riddler is just the first of many stages in that plan.
NEXT: 8 Ways The Batman Is A Great Batman Movie (& 2 Drawbacks)
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About The Author
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.
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