Edward Nygma was a former computer software designer. After losing his job, he became the supervillain known as The Riddler.
Edward Nygma was a genius in many fields with an absorbing love for puzzles and games. As a computer software designer for Competitron, he designed the game "Riddle of the Minotaur", which quickly became a smash hit. Competitron's profits soared, which was a boon for CEO Daniel Mockridge.
However, Nygma comes into work one morning only to find his office cleaned out and his name tile removed. He is met by Mockridge who says he has been fired. Nygma is not only upset by this, he is perplexed, as it was well known he was the chief designer of Riddle of the Minotaur and that game made Competitron known in the gaming world. Mockridge casually dismisses Nygma's efforts as insignificant, and attributing the company's success to its skill with business negotiations and obtaining favorable contracts, while Nygma's contract stated that any games he made on company time would be Competitron's intellectual property, and Nygma was not entitled to any royalties. In fact, Mockridge was attempting to give Competitron exclusive rights to the game, with an eye on a lucrative sale of the company to Wayne Enterprises.
Two years later, Nygma resurfaced as "The Riddler", kidnapping Mockridge and planning to kill him. He offered Batman a chance to save Mockridge, presenting a series of puzzles and riddles to solve, ending with a run through the maze at the Riddle of the Minotaur amusement park (an actual simulation of the game).
Confident in his genius, the Riddler was unprepared for an encounter with a rival intellect; Batman outwitted him, solving the final riddle. Though the Dynamic Duo survived the maze and saved Mockridge, the Riddler had escaped, leaving Gotham City altogether. Indirectly, the Riddler got his revenge: though Mockridge made millions from the sale of Competitron, he was traumatized by the whole near-death experience, seemingly scared of the Riddler's return for the rest of his days.
Because Batman had figured out his true identity, the Riddler undertook a campaign to eliminate all traces of his former self, breaking into banks and government buildings to destroy records bearing his name. He also sent a computer to the Gotham Police with a virtual reality simulation that ended up trapping Commissioner Gordon. Batman entered the virtual reality world to rescue Gordon, and in his concentration on defeating Batman, the Riddler accidentally caused his dream world to disintegrate. Batman and Robin found the Riddler at his hideout, where his brain had been temporarily suspended through an electronic backlash and at first feared getting him out alive could be a riddle no one could solve.
He recovered sometime later and briefly appeared as a member of the jury and court prosecuting Batman in Arkham Asylum. However, the Riddler was absent from the final third of the trial, and possibly seized the opportunity to escape. If so, he was soon arrested once more.
The Riddler was released once again from Arkham and appeared to have reformed. Joining with one of Gotham's well-known toymakers, Charles Baxter, the Riddler invented several puzzles that quickly became popular with children, also using his Riddler persona to boost the company's profile.
However, in secret he continued to commit daring robberies, leaving clues through his company advertisements. Although Batman was stumped, he confronted the Riddler, telling him that he knew that Nygma would never be able to stop being a criminal, and that he would catch him sooner or later.
The Riddler decided he was right, and lured Batman into a booby-trapped warehouse. Presuming his rival to finally be out of the picture, Nygma decided to go straight permanently, burning his old costume. However, Batman had secretly survived by simply concealing himself in a nearby safe, and confronted the shocked Nygma. Trying and failing to figure out how Batman escaped, Nygma offered to reveal where he had hidden his stolen riches, in exchange for Batman explaining how he escaped — unknowingly confessing his crimes to Commissioner Gordon via a two-way radio on Batman’s person. As he was arrested, Nygma begged to learn how Batman escaped, but the Dark Knight refused. The inability to solve the puzzle seemed to have been driven him mad — much to the chagrin of his fellow inmates.
Some time after his incarceration, Nygma returned to his Riddler persona again, donning a much gaudier costume. When the Judge was incarcerating rogues, the Riddler appeared conducting a random heist. The Judge dropped an oversized book on him, which appeared to have at least critically injured him. He survived to resurface once again though, against all odds.
The Riddler, the Mad Hatter, and Bane later banded together to control Gotham during Batman's mysterious absence as few could challenge them. However, when "Batman" returned with Robin's aid, the two quickly foiled their scheme.
Abilities and equipment
The Riddler had no metahuman powers, but had a genius level IQ. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, which he incorporated into his riddles and puzzles. He was also quite skilled with technology, and had developed several cutting edge inventions.
His question-cane incorporated several different weapons, including firearms and hacking equipment.
The Riddler was unique in which the Batman had to use brainpower rather than brute force to defeat him. The Dark Knight understood that his major weakness was his inability to resist showing off how smart he was, by leaving clues that invited someone to try and catch him. To do him credit, Batman was usually the only one who could, which the Riddler acknowledged, calling the Caped Crusader "the only one worthy of the game".
In Batman Animated, Paul Dini wrote that the Riddler had the "honor" of being the most difficult of Batman's rogues to write episodes for: a cerebral villain whose main criminal purpose was showing off how smart he was instead of causing mayhem or seeking revenge. As a result, many Riddler scripts have been rejected for being too long or too silly — which explains the Riddler's relatively few appearances in the DCAU, along with the difficulty in coming up with compelling riddles.
In the DC Comics, Edward Nygma (or Nashton) loved brain teasers and puzzles as a child. When his teacher challenged his class to solve a puzzle, Edward broke into the classroom at night to allow himself extra time to solve the puzzle. However, his father discovered what happened, and beat Edward horrendously, causing him to develop a psychological defense mechanism by telling the truth in a riddle. Some of these elements are described in the Writer's Bible for Batman: The Animated Series, but were never utilized in the series itself.
The character was unimportant with only a handful of appearances until the 1960s live action Batman series popularized him with the famous performance by the late Frank Gorshin.
Like most of Batman's rogues, the Riddler underwent a revamp when he transferred from Batman: The Animated Series to The New Batman Adventures. After his original outfit was destroyed in "Riddler's Reform", he now sports a green, question mark branded jumpsuit, and he no longer wears a mask. He also has his head shaved completely bald, similar to the planned design of the Riddler during the early develoment of the third Batman live-action film, in which singer Micky Dolenz and late actor Robin Williams were considered for the role before Tim Burton was replaced by Joel Schumacher as the director of third installment. His appearances in the latter series were brief, and he had no episodes specifically featuring him.
There were plans to include the Riddler in the Legion of Doom in the third season of Justice League Unlimited, but because of the Bat-embargo, this was not possible. The Riddler's inclusion would have been a tribute to the fact that he was one of the original 13 members of the Legion in the show Challenge Of The Super Friends. It's supposed that if the Riddler would have appeared in Justice League Unlimited, he would have had a new redesign, and John Glover was also supposed to reprise the role.
- "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?"
- "What Is Reality?"
- "The Worry Men" (Cameo as a puppet and on computer screen)
- "Trial" (Cameo)
- "Riddler's Reform"
- "Black Out" (Cameo as mannequin)
- "Disappearing Inque" (Cameo as mannequin)
- "Splicers" (Cameo as mannequin)
- "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot" (Cameo as a robot)
- "Sneak Peek" (Cameo as mannequin)
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Cameo as a mannequin)
- Wise, David (writer) & Radomski, Eric (director) (November 18, 1992). "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 41 (airdate). Episode 40 (production). FOX Kids.
- Isenberg, Marty, Skir, Robert N. (writers) & Sebast, Dick (director) (November 24, 1992). "What Is Reality?". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 45 (airdate). Episode 48 (production). FOX Kids.
- Burnett, Alan, Dini, Paul, Rogel, Randy (story) & Rogel, Randy (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 24, 1994). "Riddler's Reform". The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Season 3. Episode 3 (airdate). Episode 79 (production). FOX Kids.
- Fogel, Rich, Burnett, Alan (writers) & Geda, Curt (director) (October 31, 1998). "Judgment Day". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 9 (airdate). Episode 24 (production). Season 2. Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (October 10, 1998). "Knight Time". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 3. Episode 2 (airdate). Episode 43 (production). Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (January 31, 1999). "Black Out". Batman Beyond. Season 1. Episode 3 (airdate). Episode 3 (production). Kids WB!.