The Riddler - A Visual History of the Quizzical Rogue

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The Riddler - A Visual History of the Quizzical Rogue

DC Comics

The Riddler has gone through many changes to his looks over the year, including a few approaches that just makes you scratch your head and ask, "Why?" Here, we'll take a look at Riddler's evolution over his nearly seventy-year history. 

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The classic green question mark leotard

DC Comics

Right from the beginning, the great Batman artist, Dick Sprang's original look for the Riddler was an inspired creation, a green leotard covered with question marks plus a domino mask, the Riddler stood out among some of Batman's rather bland villains of the late 1940s. However, while he may have stood out at the time, he only appeared in one more story before he (and most of Batman's Rogues) went dormant for the rest of the 1940s and then all of the 1950s. He would not return until 1965, but oh boy, what a return it was!

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The classic leotard makes an important impression

DC Comics

 When he was called in to ABC to discuss a possible Batman TV series, producer William Dozier bought some comic books to inspire him, including most famously Batman #171, which featured Riddler's return to the Bat-books for the first time in 17 years! Dozier adapted this story for the first episode of the Batman TV series, with Frank Gorshin playing the Riddler and suddenly the Riddler was ingrained in Batman history as one of his top rogues. 

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Frank Gorshin's first Riddler costume

20th Century Fox Television

Gorshin wore the basic Riddler leotard, only his design was stripped down, with just the one giant question mark on his chest. This was the same  costume that John Astin wore in Season 2 when he temporarily took over from Gorshin (Gorshin returned in Season 3). 

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Gorshin's second Riddler costume

20th Century Fox Television

 Gorshin, for his part, hated wearing the skintight costume, so he kept asking the producers if they could change his costume. Ultimately, towards the end of Season 1 they gave him a new outfit, a Riddler business suit, complete with a bowler derby. Gorshin split time in the 1966 Batman movie between the original costume and this new, more refined outfit. 

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The comics remain the same

DC Comics

 Even as the Batman TV series suddenly made the Riddler one of Batman's top Rogues, the show did not have any influence upon the Riddler's look for the rest of the 1960s and all of the 1970s, as the original Dick Sprang costume stayed the standard. Even as DC redid their continuity in the mid-1980s, RIddler's costume remained the same. It was not until the very last year of the decade that something changed. 

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The business suit makes it into the comics

DC Comics

It was not until a short story by a then-rising comic writer named Neil Gaiman that the Riddler's business suit made its way into the comics. In the story, "When is a Door..." in the 1989 Secret Origins Special #1, Gaiman does the Riddler's origin and he has the Riddler wear the suit and the bowler, as drawn by artists Bernie Mireault and Matt Wagner.  

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The suit becomes the standard

DC Comics

When the Riddler next appeared in an issue of Batman, the suit was now the go-to look for the villain. Only some comics took the interesting tact, like Batman #490, of having it that the Riddler wore the leotard underneath the suit, giving them the best of both worlds. Occasionally, though, he would still appear in the classic leotard, like a three-parter in Detective Comics #705-707.

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The first Batman: The Animated Series suit

Warner Bros.

When Riddler first showed up on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, he wore a stripped down version of the Riddler business suit.  

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The second Batman: The Animated Series suit

Warner Bros.

 When Batman: The Animated Series returned after a couple of years off, a number of the costumes on the series were revamped, including Batman and Robin's outfits. Riddler was no exception, as he wore a sort of combination of the leotard look and the business suit, specifically the bowler hat. 

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The introduction of a cane

Warner Bros.

Jim Carrey wore basically the same costumes as Frank Gorshin when he played the Riddler in Batman Forever, but he also added a new addition to the Riddler's look - a question mark cane. This was quickly picked up on by the comics.  

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The Animated Series makes its comic debut

DC Comics

 During Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's classic Batman storyline, "Hush," the Riddler was a key player. Here, Lee used the stripped-down version of Riddler's business suit look. 

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The Riddler gets goth

Warner Bros.

With the 2004 animated series, The Batman, the producers decided to try brand-new designs for Batman's Rogues, far from their standard looks. Artist Jeff Matsuda came up with a Goth-inspired look for the Riddler.  

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Riddler's new look

DC Comics

Following the events of "Hush," the villain known as Hush severely beat Riddler, sending him into a spiral that ended with him dropping the costume look entirely as he fought against Green Arrow and the Outsiders.

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E. Nigma, Consulting Detective

DC Comics

After suffering a brain injury in the crossover event, Infinite Crisis, Riddler spent a year in a coma. When he emerged, he was now working as a consulting detective for the police, with his doctors claiming that his head injury cured him of his anti-social criminal behavior. He aided Batman on a number of cases, but it was always unclear whether he was to be fully trusted or not. He went back to the traditional question-covered business suit. 

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One last Riddler before the New 52

DC Comics

 Soon before DC rebooted their continuity again in 2011 with the New 52, Riddler got another personality change, as he sort of blurred all the various takes on the character into one new version, complete with his daughter, Enigma. This look was sort of like the leotard mixed with the suit, only with some crazy hair, as well. 

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Riddler in the New 52 Part 1

DC Comics

After DC rebooted their continuity in 2011, the Riddler now played a key role in the early days of Batman's career, as Riddler plunges Gotham City into a blackout and sort of lords over the city. His outfit is more of a basic green business suit with a fedora rather than a derby. 

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Riddler in the New 52 Part 2

DC Comics

That was Riddler in the past, though. When we first see Riddler in the present day in the New 52, he has a question mark shaped mohawk. Yes, you read that correctly. A question mark shaped mohawk. Luckily, more recently he has returned to basically his look from "Hush," only with a question mark cane, as seen in the very first image on this visual journey through his history.