There is a lot to love about the first trailer for Matt Reeves’ The Batman movie. So much that we wrote a whole lotta words about all the cool secrets packed into it (which you can read here).
But perhaps our favorite thing about The Batman is how it appears to reinvent the Riddler (Paul Dano) as a creepy serial killer. And not just any serial killer, but one who might be taking inspiration from one of the most terrifying unsolved serial murderers of them all: the Zodiac Killer.
The trailer opens with who we presume is the Riddler covering a victim in duct tape. We only presume it’s the Riddler because his face is completely covered in an eerie hood/goggles combo. The Zodiac notoriously committed one of his attacks while wearing a custom hood and costume worthy of a Batman villain. This could just be considered a coincidence, except the Zodiac similarities don’t end there.
Y’see, even though it’s the Riddler’s whole thing to leave clues and riddles for the police and to taunt Batman, they take on another dimension when he is explicitly being portrayed as a serial killer. And when those clues aren’t just riddles, but riddles left via a cypher in a greeting card, well, you see where I’m going with this. San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer was notorious for sending coded messages to the police and to newspapers. Several of his taunting (non-coded) notes even came in the form of greeting cards, and one Halloween related card in particular.
Which brings me back to the cypher in The Batman trailer. The question asked in the card is “What does a liar do when he’s dead?” followed by 11 mysterious characters.
Andrew Lane on Twitter took it upon himself to solve the code…
Mr. Lane described how he did it in the replies to his initial tweet, saying “I used a pretty simple substitution method that I paired with English letter frequency. It gave me which symbols stood for L and E. I just filled in the blanks from there and used the riddle for some direction!”
And his solution to “what does a liar do when he’s dead” came out too “he lies still.”
An appropriately ominous answer, and given Riddler’s seeming fixation on Batman and/or Bruce Wayne in the trailer, makes us wonder if perhaps the “lies” in question involve the history of the Wayne family.
Anyway, the addition of creepy ciphers to the Riddler’s M.O. in addition to the serial killer touch and Jeffrey Wright’s perfectly exhausted looking Jim Gordon keep bringing to mind David Fincher’s masterpiece, Zodiac. One final bit of Zodiac synchonicity for all this…it was a pair of amateur codebreakers who decoded the Zodiac’s first coded message when it was printed in the newspapers, so Mr. Lane has followed in history’s footsteps, just as the movie seems to have taken its inspiration.
The Batman opens on Oct. 1, 2021.