There have been four live action actors to play the Riddler ahead of Paul Dano’s next performance in The Batman. They are ranked here from worst to best.
Of all the villains in Batman’s rogue gallery, few have proven more difficult to identify than the Riddler. In fact, before the Adam West bat Man series in the 1960s, it had only appeared intermittently in the comics, and much of its identity was shaped by the success of the television show. The release of new photos of The batman portraying Paul Dano in the role has sparked renewed interest in the character and previous depictions of him in popular media.
The confusing nature of the Riddler defies easy attempts to capture on film, and Frank Gorshin’s iconic performance in the Adam West series casts a long shadow. In the DVD commentary of Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini confided that the writers struggled to find the right stories for him. In fact, many comic book fans considered him a kind of second evaluator, prompting the famous Batman: Silence comic book bow. After Gorshin, he was perhaps best known for the Arkham video games, and then just as a disembodied voice until the player unlocked its copious side quest puzzles.
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Thus, Riddler’s live-action appearances are limited to just four to date, putting particular weight on Dano’s performance in The batman. They are a strange bag of goodies of performances, each one very different and some more successful than others. Here they are, loosely ranked in order of quality.
4. John Astin, bat Man (1967)
Astin only appeared as the Riddler once, during Season 2, Episodes 45 and 46, “Batman’s Anniversary / A Riddling Controversy”. It arose out of necessity; Gorshin had demanded a raise before returning to the show for season 2, and the studio refused to agree. A second character, the Puzzler, was created to complete one episode, and Astin stepped in for another. The actor had just completed a successful career as Gomez Addams in the original. Addams Family TV show, and bravely agreed to play the role.
It didn’t work out, largely for reasons that had nothing to do with the interpreter. Astin brought undertones of Gorshin’s madness, but lacked the same manic energy as his predecessor, appearing very by the numbers for the rogues gallery at the time. He just wasn’t suitable for a role that had already been defined by another performer, and his turn was more of an act of professionalism than a memorable character. However, he left behind a lingering icon: Riddler’s signature cane first appeared in Astin’s hands.
3. Jim Carrey, Batman forever (nineteen ninety five)
Although not strictly defamed, Edward Nygma de Carrey suffered greatly from the disaster that was the Joel Schumacher bat Man Photos. His obsession with Bruce Wayne carried undertones of insanity, but he couldn’t help his jokes. The actor was cast to be much more Jim Carrey than the Riddler, symptomatic of the ’90s Hollywood tendency to emphasize star power above all else.
It’s true that Carrey stood out amongst the movie’s wacky settings and had enough comic energy to pull off a few pranks, but he was always the star first and the character rarely. The movie hasn’t aged well, making its performance a strange time capsule to the bloat of the summer blockbuster.
2. Cory Michael Smith, Gotham (2014-2019)
For the first time since Gorshin, the Riddler found a worthy incarnation in Smith, who routinely became a reason to tune in. Gotham all on your own. Su Nygma started out as a forensic scientist with the Gotham City Police Department and served as an ally to Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock in the first few episodes of the show. His strange obsessions led him down the path of murder and insanity, leading him to embrace his alter-ego and emerge as a nascent supercriminal.
Like Nygma, Smith was both intelligent, socially awkward, obsessive, and possessed of deep insecurity, creating a figure that embodied the darkest parts of the comic book incarnation without losing his likeable side. It fits the series well, and when Gotham They paired him up with Robin Lord Taylor’s penguin, silently creating something definitive about their respective rogues.
1. Frank Gorshin, bat Man (1966-1968)
Smith is credited with making the Riddler his own and embodying a modern take on the much-needed character. But at the end of the day, the role belongs to Gorshin. He played the role of Riddler in the pilot episode of the legendary bat Man and appeared in four two-part episodes in the first season, nearly a quarter of the total. His Riddle was unhinged, sociopathic, and filled with so much malevolent energy that it could explode. He rejoiced uniquely over wrongdoing and his obsessive hatred for Batman, ubiquitous among the series’ colorful goons, and he pushed the brink of something dangerous. For all of the show’s camp theatricality, Gorshin found something threatening in his trademark laugh; something much closer to the Joker than even César Romero could conjure up.
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