Batman has faced plenty of classic villains in his life: the Joker, Mr. Freeze, R'as al Ghul... the list goes on and on. And yet, the one villain that is often the most underrated is the Riddler. Once known as Edward Nashton (that's right, not Edward Nygma, which only became his name after he changed it), the Riddler is one of Batman's smartest and most dangerous enemies.
The Riddler has undergone plenty of character changes over the years, but the core of who he is remains the same. He is a man who wants to test his intellect against Batman's. This was later characterized as a sort of neurosis (which is also why he had to leave riddles at all of his crime scenes). There are plenty of things about this classic character that people might not know.
10 HE WORKED AT A CARNIVAL
Even criminals have to get their start somewhere, and the Riddler was no different. His first job was actually highly indicative of the path he would take later in his life: he worked at a carnival. However, the Riddler was not like the average carny, in that he was quite a bit smarter than the average carnival worker.
He ran a game booth (of course), but the only problem was that the game was rigged. He had devised a puzzle that was impossible to solve, and spent his days taking money from people who tried to figure it out. This obviously made someone with an intellect like the Riddler's very bored, so he decided to apply his intelligence to a life of crime.
9 HE SURVIVED CANCER
The Riddler, unlike many of Batman's other foes, chooses not to confront the Dark Knight with brute force, but rather by making him play sadistic games that he dreamed up. So of course, in an ironic twist, the Riddler develops a malignant tumor in his brain, threatening to take away his greatest strength: his intellect.
However, in the world of comic books, characters do not often succumb to such things very easily. Instead of the Riddler passing away from the incurable tumor, he instead finds one of R'as al Ghul's Lazarus Pits and takes a dip. His cancer is instantly cured, though his mind undergoes some disturbing changes.
8 HE ONCE FLOODED GOTHAM CITY
All of DC's character got a fresh start with the New 52 reboot in 2011. This included Batman and all of his classic villains. The first one he faced off against, in fact, was the Riddler. In this version of the story, the Riddler escapes from Arkham Asylum and teams up with another villain named Doctor Death.
This was one of the rare instances where Batman did not fully beat the villains. The Riddler had set up a riddle for the citizens of Gotham to solve, however they fail to answer the question. Even though Batman beats Doctor Death, the Riddler is still able to flood the city when he blows up the city's reservoir.
7 HE FIGURED OUT BATMAN'S SECRET IDENTITY
Even though Batman's secret identity should be obvious to just about anyone, there have been inexplicably few people who have been able to figure it out on their own. Only a few villains have managed to put the pieces together, including Hugo Strange and the Joker. However, owing to his massive intellect, the Riddler also figured it out.
This actually occurred right after the Riddler cured his cancer in the Lazarus Pit. the sense of healing and clarity allowed him to finally put everything together and deduce that it must be Bruce Wayne who is actually Batman. He also figured out the identity of the second Robin (Jason Todd) during this time.
6 HE ONCE HAD A CONFRONTATION WITH THE QUESTION
If someone didn't know who the Riddler was, they might assume from his ridiculous outfits that his name was the Question. However, in the DC universe, there is already a character named the Question. The Question is yet another hero who typically wears a regular suit, hat, and a mask which covers his entire face.
These two characters faced each other when the Riddler hijacked a bus and began harming passengers who could not answer his riddles correctly. When confronted by the philosophical queries from the Question, the Riddler starts to have a mental breakdown, as he realizes he is not, in fact, the smartest person in the room.
5 HE WAS GOOD FOR A LITTLE WHILE
The Riddler is just not that lucky when it comes to problems plaguing his brain. First, the guy manages to get rid of his brain cancer, and then he gets clubbed in the head, causing a major brain injury. This puts Riddler into a yearlong coma. However, the blow also seemed to fix his neuroses, as when he awoke, his more villainous tendencies had vanished.
Since his intelligence was not altered by the blow to the noggin, the Riddler is actually able to help Batman and the GCPD solve crimes. It even appears that he feels genuine remorse for his previous actions. However, this good version of the Riddler wouldn't be sticking around, as another blow to the head with accompanying coma set him back to his old ways.
4 HE WAS HOMELESS
After the conclusion of the "Hush" storyline, the Riddler found himself at odds with many of Gotham's worst villains. He was broken down to nothing and left wandering the streets with the rest of the homeless people in Gotham City. during this time, the Riddler had to put together the truth of his past.
After he is given an opportunity to work as a codebreaker with the NSA, Riddler thinks back to his childhood and realizes that he hadn't cheated in a school contest (as had been suggested in his origin). He had actually used his considerable intellect to win fairly. His father had beat him for cheating, which in part made him turn to a life of crime.
3 THE 60S BATMAN SERIES MADE HIM POPULAR
While the Riddler might be considered one of Batman's most enduring and famous villains these days, back when he was created, he wasn't all that popular. In fact, he was so disliked that after his first appearance in 1948, he wasn't featured in a Batman story again until 1965.
People just didn't seem to connect with the Riddler, and it wasn't until he became a character on the classic Adam West Batman that the character was reinvigorated. Played by Frank Gorshin, the Riddler quickly became one of the Dark Knight's most well-known and recognizable villains.
2 HE WAS ALMOST THE MAIN VILLAIN IN THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
It's hard to imagine that the Riddler could ever fade into obscurity considering what a popular villain he is now. In fact, he was so popular, that Warner Bros. even wanted Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer to write him into the script for The Dark Knight Rises as the main villain.
Not only that, but they wanted Christopher Nolan to cast Leonardo DiCaprio in the role since they had just successfully collaborated on Inception. It was not to be, but there had been plenty of speculation over whether the Riddler would ever be included in the Nolanverse or not.
1 HE TRAPPED JIM GORDON IN A VR MAZE
The Riddler has carried out some truly insane plans in his time as a villain, but one of the most elaborate schemes he ever came up with involved trapping Gotham's police commissioner in a virtual reality world that was so realistic, it could cause him to have a fatal heart attack in the real world.
In order to save Gordon, Batman enters into the virtual world as well, with the Riddler on the outside controlling the entire world, it was a dangerous mission to undertake, as there was no telling just what the Riddler could program to face off against Gordon and Batman.