- "For if knowledge is power, then a god am... I."
Edward Nygma is a disgruntled former Wayne Enterprises employee that is currently a patient at Arkham Asylum. After losing his job, he placed the blame on his idol, Bruce Wayne. Inspired by Two-Face, Nygma fashioned himself as the Riddler and turned to crime to gain power and revenge.
Edward "Ed" Nygma was a scientist working for Wayne Enterprises who wanted to show its owner Bruce Wayne his latest invention: a device capable of generating realistic images from television signals into a person's brain. The device in its prototype form strangely looks like it was made with an electric food blender -- the shape that the final version of the product ends up taking later on. Wayne notices that Nygma says the device manipulates brain waves, which makes him say he cannot fund its development because it raises too many questions. Nygma fumes at the rejection and decides he will press on with working on the device with or without Wayne's support.
Becoming the Riddler
During Nygma's off-hours still working at his station at Wayne Enterprises on his invention, his superior Fred Stickley catches him and threatens to have security remove him. Nygma ties Fred up and makes him the test subject of his invention, causing him to be mesmerized by the incredible realistic images pumped into his brain. Then Nygma gives his invention more power, and suddenly he finds himself flooded with information his invention has sapped from Fred's brain, making him incredibly smarter. Stickley realizes that Wayne was right about the invention being mind manipulation and threatens to have Nygma incarcerated, put into a mental institution, and ultimately fired. Nygma pushes Fred in the chair he is tied to toward the main window overlooking the Gotham River, where he dangles as he is still tethered to Nygma's invention. He removes it from Fred's head and watches him plunge into the river, mocking his demise.
The next day, the police come on the scene to find a suicide note supposedly written by Nygma's superior Fred, and Wayne watches a security video recording where he supposedly went insane and purposely walked his way through the window to drown himself. Nygma feigns a mournful attitude and decides he will no longer work for Wayne Enterprises as the demise of Fred is too much for him to bear. Back at his apartment, Nygma goes to work to create all sorts of puzzling messages for Bruce Wayne to receive. He also watches as Harvey Dent, now known as Two-Face, causes chaos and murder at the circus, realizing that this was one man he wants to be like and one he has to meet. On deciding an identity for himself, Nygma looks at the green-suited man in the machine pointing his finger toward the question mark, and inspiration hits him.
Committing Crimes with Two-Face
Two-Face at his secret hideout with his two girlfriends Sugar and Spice gets an unexpected and unwelcome visit from Nygma, who now shows up wearing a green suit with question marks on it and a cane with a question mark on it, calling himself the Riddler. Two-Face threatens to kill the intruder unless he tells him how he managed to find out where he lived. Nygma shows him with an advanced version of his invention, which he now calls the Box, setting up two of them on top of television sets that Sugar and Spice each sit before, and then puts a handheld device toward his forehead to activate them, drawing from their brains everything they know. Nygma gives Two-Face a taste of what it does, but says the only way he can get more is if he helps Nygma steal enough money so he could manufacture and distribute Boxes all over Gotham, and from that he will help Two-Face know who Batman really is. Not liking intruders but intrigued by Nygma's invention, Two-Face flips his coin to decide whether to keep Riddler alive or to kill him.
Sure enough, the coin decides in Nygma's favor, and the two of them go off on a crime spree together, eventually resulting in the formation of NygmaTech, where his Box is mass-produced and sitting in the homes of countless Gotham households. As they watch mesmerized by the images pumped into their brains, Nygma sits on a throne in his and Two-Face's new headquarters, overwhelmed by the amount of information he is absorbing from everyone.
Bruce Wayne's Secret Uncovered
He soon attends a gala party in Gotham where he shows off an advanced version of his Box to interested party guests. James Gordon finds himself on a tropical vacation, while an elderly woman finds herself crowned Miss America. Bruce Wayne enters one of these booths, and it instantly records the haunting secret of how he was inspired to become Batman. But the party is soon interrupted by Two-Face and his gang getting impatient for the Batman to show up. Batman does show and contend with Two-Face, who unsuccessfully tries to kill him. But Nygma shows Two-Face what his Box has recorded from Bruce Wayne's brain, that he truly is the Batman.
Invading Wayne Manor
Later on, Riddler and Two-Face invade Wayne Manor as Bruce is alone with Chase Meridian, with Two-Face's goons kidnapping Chase and Nygma destroying things in the Batcave with his Riddler bat bombs. Two-Face gets a decision from his coin to kill Bruce when Nygma stops him from doing so, saying Bruce will never learn if he is dead, while leaving his last riddle for him to solve. Chase is taken to the Riddler's headquarters, where she is bound up and he is waiting for the Batman to show up.
Fight Against Batman
Bruce Wayne discovers from all the riddles he has been given that the numbers in them are all connected to letters: 13, 1, 8, and 5, which in turn are M, A, H, and E. He deduces that 1 and 8 are actually 18, which then makes the letters MRE -- thus revealing it to be "mystery", or Mr. E, as in Mr. Ed Nygma. He then realizes that Nygma must have generated both the fake suicide note and the fake security video recording to cover up the murder of Fred Stickley. Batman in his new untested Batsuit goes to island where the Riddler's headquarters is with Dick Grayson as his partner Robin, with Batman flying the Batwing and Robin driving the Batboat. However, both Two-Face and the Riddler knock out both of their vehicles, causing them to swim ashore only for Robin to be taken when the headquarters rises high from the ground and be captured by Two-Face.
Batman climbs up the shaft to enter the main chamber where the Riddler awaits, taunting his adversary that he knows he is Bruce Wayne and testing him with a riddle by threatening to drop Chase Meridian and Robin into a watery grave. Batman says there is no way he can save both of them because the whole island is a death trap. The Riddler does not accept the answer as valid and proceeds to press the button, but Batman stops him with a riddle of his own, distracting him long enough to activate protective blinders before throwing a Batarang at the receptor fixture above the Riddler's throne. Nygma screams as the feedback from its destruction scrambles his brain, causing him to press the button to send Chase and Robin falling to their deaths. Batman quickly manages to rescue them both from dying while stopping Two-Face for good before telling a ruined Ed Nygma that he is Batman, not because he has to be, but now because he chooses to be. As he approaches Nygma to take him into custody, he screams as he now sees the image of a giant black bat coming toward him.
Later on at Arkham Asylum, Chase meets Nygma in his padded cell, who claims to know who Batman is. He jumps into view of her wearing his straitjacket and flapping his arms like wings, saying that he is the Batman. Chase concludes from this encounter that Nygma has gone insane and that Bruce Wayne's secret is now safe.
Riddler's jacket and derby hat were kept at Arkham's Criminal Property Locker, along with one of Two-Face's jackets and slacks. A few years later Bane and Poison Ivy caught a glimpse of Nygma and Dent's custom clothing when they stole Victor Fries' cryo-suit from the guards. This seemed to make little to no impact on the pair.
Behind the Scenes
- Robin Williams was being courted for the character before Michael Keaton departed from the project.
- Michael Jackson had previously opted hard to land the role, but was ignored. Matthew Broderick also expressed interest in the role of the Riddler.
- In the early drafts of Batman III, the Riddler's real name was Lyle Heckendorf and his corrupt company was called HeckTech. One of the original ideas with Lyle that didn't make it into the movie was a scene at the circus where, in stalking Bruce Wayne, he knocks out a circus employee dressed up as a leprechaun. Lyle takes the leprechaun's clothes, which evolves into the Riddler's trademark look.
To be added