Edward Nygma was a former computer software designer. After losing his job, he became the supervillain known as The Riddler.
Edward Nygma was a brilliant man, a genius in many fields with an absorbing love for puzzles and games. As a computer software designer for Competitron, he designed "The Riddle of the Minotaur" a game that quickly became a smash hit. Competitron's sales soared, and several people became very wealthy, including Competitron's corporate chair Daniel Mockridge.
However, Mockridge fired Nygma, callously dismissing Nygma's efforts as insignificant, and attributing the company's success to its skill with business negotiations and obtaining favorable contracts (i.e., to himself); While Nygma's contract stated that he was not entitled to any royalties or copyrights of the game. In fact, Mockridge was attempting to give Competitron exclusive rights to the game, with an eye on a lucrative sale of the company. Two years later, Mockridge was arranging a deal to sell Competitron to Wayne Enterprises. Nygma resurfaced as "The Riddler," kidnapping Mockridge and planning to kill him. The Riddler 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. In a way, the Riddler still had his revenge: though Mockridge made millions from the sale of Competitron, he was paralyzed by fear of Nygma's return, seemingly 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 Commisioner 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 Riddler at his hideout, where his brain had been temporarily suspended through an electronic backlash.
He recovered sometime later, though, briefly appearing as a member of the jury and court prosecuting Batman in Arkham Asylum. The Riddler was absent, however, from the final third of the trial. This suggests he knew the inmates' freedom was to be short-lived, and fled before Batman could capture him. If so, the Riddler was soon arrested once more.
Some time later, the Riddler was released 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, Batman, would catch him sooner or later. The Riddler decided he was right, and lured Batman into a booby-trapped warehouse. Batman survived, however, and Riddler was returned to Arkham Asylum. He appeared to have been driven insane by his perplexity about how Batman escaped from his "perfect" deathtrap, which Batman refused to tell him.
When the Judge was incarcerating rogues, the Riddler appeared conducting a random heist. The Judge dropped an over-sized 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. With Batman mysteriously gone, few could challenge them. However, Superman had arrived in Gotham and, impersonating the Dark Knight with Robin's aid, 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.
Batman 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 Riddler acknowledged, calling Batman "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, rather than overt mayhem, or vengeance. That, and the difficulty in coming up with compelling riddles, explains the Riddler's relatively few appearances in the DCAU.
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 Edward to develop a psychological defense mechanism by telling the truth in a riddle.
The character was an unimportant character with only a handful of appearances until the 1960s live action Batman popularized the character with the famous performance of the character by Frank Gorshin.
Following a diagnosis with a brain tumor, Riddler used a Lazarus Pit to save his life. In the temporary insanity following, the Riddler realized Batman's real identity as Bruce Wayne, and the information to his doctor, Thomas Elliot, allowing him to become the villain Hush and take revenge on Wayne. Batman was able to keep the Riddler quiet since his riddle compulsion would prevent him from revealing it, and also threatend to turn him over to Ra's al Ghul if he tried something like Hush again. Riddler suffered cranial trauma during Infinite Crisis, causing him to forget Batman's identity (though he remembers knowing something shocking about Bruce Wayne) and also cured him of his riddle compulsion. Nygma now works as a private detective in Gotham City, tolerated by Batman, but still keeping an eye on him.
Although the Riddler is willing to kill in the DCAU, DC comics Riddler is actually one of Batman's least violent rogues (granted, Batman's rogues gallery does include some of the more violent villains of the DC comics, such as Two-Face, Victor Zsazs, Ra's al Ghul, and the Joker, who is the single highest serial killer in the DC universe).
Like most of Batman's rogues, the Riddler underwent a revamp when he transferred from Batman: The Animated Series to The New Batman Adventures. His outfit changed significantly, sporting a green, question mark branded jumpsuit as opposed to the question suit-coat. His hair, mask and eyebrows were removed as well, and he was also noticeably thinner. His appearances in the latter series were brief, and he had no episodes specifically featuring him.
The Riddler was voiced by John Glover, who in recent years has become famous as main antagonist Lionel Luthor on the series Smallville.
- "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"
- "Gotham in Pink" (Mentioned Only)
- "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot" (Cameo as a robot)