Many mysteries surround The Batman‘s main villain. The movie not only introduces a version of the Riddler unlike any we’ve ever seen, donning a mask and armed with duct tape, but one who also has a deep connection and obsession with Bruce Wayne. What are the ties that bind these two characters together in the film? We don’t know the answer just yet, but trailers have made it clear it goes all the way back to Bruce’s parents and some long buried secret that the Riddler will dig up to destroy his opponent’s life.
But does the Riddler’s plan go even deeper than that? The newest trailer for The Batman teases a catastrophe in Gotham that could change the city forever — and drive the storytelling of director Matt Reeves’ potential sequels. This disaster is also a callback to a major Riddler moment from the comics that has gone on to shape the current, post-New 52 era version of the character.
First, check out the trailer to see what we mean:
The end of the trailer seems to confirm recent rumors that the Riddler will flood the city in The Batman, forcing the Dark Knight to wade through the waters of the overflowing Gotham River. How exactly Riddler will accomplish such a destructive act of terrorism remains a mystery but one shot in the trailer teases it has something to do with blowing up the levees that keep the river at bay.
We watch in another shot as water rushes through the streets of downtown Gotham, taking cars, buses, and anything else in its path with it. There will undoubtedly be casualties as Gotham drowns, turning the city into a No Man’s Land that only the Batman can save.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? If you’ve read Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s legendary Batman run from the early 2010s, you likely recognized the Riddler’s plan immediately. After all, it’s ripped straight out of 2013’s “Zero Year,” one of Snyder and Capullo’s most celebrated Batman stories. In those comics, new villain the Riddler cuts all power in Gotham and blows up the reservoir, all while a hurricane is pummeling the city. This cripples Gotham, leaving it a flooded, post-apocalyptic wasteland virtually overnight, with the Riddler now in full control.
On top of being the canon Batman origin story, “Zero Year” turns the Riddler into Gotham’s first major supervillain and one of the most formative characters in the Dark Knight’s journey. It’s by defeating the Riddler in “Zero Year” that Bruce is able to complete his transformation into the symbol of hope and justice that Gotham needs.
All three trailers released so far have teased a recurring image: Batman, flare in hand, leading the citizens of Gotham through the dark, flooded city streets. This too could be a nod to Batman’s evolution in “Zero Year” from street-level vigilante to something much bigger: the city’s light in dark times.
“Zero Year” isn’t the movie’s only big comic book influence, of course. Reeves has cited the usual suspects as major sources of inspiration — “Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale — as well as Darwyn Cooke’s Ego. The latter book was described as particularly influential by Reeves, who sought to take a deep dive into Batman’s psyche in the new movie, all while setting the story during year two of the Dark Knight’s career, a phase of the character that’s been explored in the comics for decades.
It’ll be very interesting to see what other stories Reeves nods to when The Batman hits theaters on March 4.