Many of DC’s most recognizable villains have been done to absolute death, over decades of films, shows, and animated projects.
The Joker has appeared in a staggering number of projects over the years—more than 250, according to The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime—and the Riddler isn’t far behind. The iconic Batman villain has seen an uptick in popularity in recent years, alongside the Dark Knight himself, and several stellar performances have aided in immortalizing the Gotham outlaw.
These performances are coming under scrutiny, as longtime DC fans take a look back at decades of Riddler roles. No two Batman projects are exactly the same, and thus no two Riddlers are precisely alike either. Over the years, some truly exemplary actors have taken on the unique role of Ed Nygma, and fans want to know which one was the best.
A post to Reddit’s r/DCcomics sub ponders this exact question, and lines up 10 non-comic interpretations of the character for fans to choose from. From the OG himself (Frank Gorshin) to more recent interpretations by Jim Carrey, Wally Wingert, and Cory Michael Smith, the list outlines the most iconic interpretations of the character, and asks longtime fans to choose their favorite.
The response is far from uniform, but many Batman fans seem to agree on one thing: without Frank Gorshin, we wouldn’t have the Riddler as we know him. The celebrated actor brought the character to life in live-action for the first time in the mid-1960s, and his mark has remained ever since. There is a trace of his performance in every one that came after, and thus he must be acknowledged as the peak on-screen Riddler.
Despite this consensus, he’s not everyone’s favorite interpretation. Several other picks littered the comment section, as people floated various alternates, and defended their picks. The version featured in Batman: The Animated Series seems to be a close second to Gorshin himself, thanks to John Glover’s performance and an emphasis on the Riddler’s carefully themed characterization.
The Riddler from the more recent Batman: Arkham series of video games is also a crowd favorite, as is Cory Michael Smith’s take from Gotham. Both versions of the character were praised for their interactions with Batman (and Gordon), balance of humor and villainy, and overall grasp of the nerdy but obsessive Nygma.
In the end, it seems that most versions of the Riddler are surprisingly popular. Some got far more shout-outs than others, of course, but none were roundly disliked by much of anyone. That’s no easy feat, these days, so the Riddler is clearly doing something right.