With the release of a trailer for the upcoming film The Batman during DC Fandome, Batman fans have a new crop of hints and easter eggs to crack and decode. But one of the most obvious — and most difficult — coded clues came not from Matt Reeves, but from the Riddler himself. Here's the code's true meaning, and what it reveals about the Riddler's new form.
During the trailer, we see a card that reads "from your secret friend" on the outside. It's opened to reveal the iconic calling card of The Riddler, one of his eponymous riddles. The text on the left reads "What does a liar do when he's dead?" and the answer is written in strange hieroglyphics. The meaning of these, despite temporarily eluding Batman, was quickly debunked by sharp-eyed fans.
Game designer Mike Selinker shared how he debunked the puzzle on Twitter, using repeated symbols and knowledge of most-used letters to crack the code. The answer is suitably punny. So what does a liar do when he's dead?
He lies still.
This answer brings to mind another shot from the trailer, of someone being suffocated with duct tape with the words "no more lies" written across the face. There's also a shot of the Riddler himself holding duct tape, so we know it's his handiwork. The shot of the duct tape execution was leaked all the way back in February and communicated how truly dark this Riddler was going to be.
However, that may not be the full picture. While Reeves said he was inspired by classic film noir like Chinatown for his take on the Batman canon, this spooky dad joke casts a new light on this version of the villain. Unlike previous depictions of the Riddler we've seen in movies and comics, this one seems to strike a balance between the terrifying and the cheesy.
This approach could give us the best of both worlds. While not outwardly horrific like Christopher Nolan's Joker, this Riddler isn't a parodic extreme like what you'd find in the Adam West series or Batman Forever.
This kind of nuance would be interesting to explore in the upcoming movie, especially considering the villains accompanying The Riddler. Will Catwoman make the occasional purr-fect reference? Will the Penguin send a tweet? These moments of levity wouldn't necessarily ruin the film's dark tones, they would merely provide a moment to breathe between all the gritty intrigue.
The Batman premieres October 11, 2021.