I have to confess that I am not much of a film buff, and cannot recall the last time that I saw a movie in the theater back in the pre-pandemic days. That being said, I do keep abreast of 'nerd culture' news, so I did see the gross character design for the Riddler in an upcoming Batman movie:
Uh, that doesn't look like asupergenius supervillain, that looks like a creep who tries to lure children into his van, parked outside a grammar school... more the Diddler than the Riddler. While clearly meant to evoke the Zodiac Killer, this riddler looks like a broke-ass convention-goer's Oscar the Grouch cosplay, thrown together using an indigent veteran's stolen overcoat and duffel bag.
Longtime readers will know that my official stance on 'Batman' is: West Batman is Best Batman. The 1960s television Batman was a masterpiece of camp, a Day-Glo action comedy which has yet to be surpassed for sheer fun. Frank Gorshin's Riddler, alternating between a dapper green suit and green leotard, both festooned with Fragenzeichen, was a creepy blend of manic intensity and twisted genius. Gorshin's Riddler wouldn't leave the house looking like a grungy loser.
If put to torture by, say, the Gotham Inquisition, though, I might confess that the best iteration of the Batman franchise was the remarkable 1990s animated series, a classy blend of Art Deco design and film noir sensibilities. Flawlessly acted, impeccably conceived, it navigated a middle course between the comic book campiness of 1960s Batman and post-Tim Burton grim-and-gritty Batman. In the series, the Riddler, resplendent in Gorshinesque green suit, bowler, and pink domino, was reimagined as a disgruntled computer programer fired by his greedy employer and seeking revenge.
This new trash-Riddler, so different from the dapper, unhinged brainiac of previous Batman properties, hints at a bigger problem in the franchise... a lack of fun. It's almost as if the current production team behind the Batman property were made fun of as kids for liking comic books and are now trying too hard to make the material 'serious'. The campy fun of 1960s Batman and the classy noir of 1990s Batman have both been jettisoned in favor of a grungy, grimdark aesthetic which is hard to pull off without degenerating into self-parody. Looking at the tryhard, grimdark Riddler of this upcoming Batman movie, that parody isn't even funny. Well, not like Adam West Batman.