The official trailer for The Batman dropped over the weekend, giving folks their first true glimpse of Robert Pattinson in action as the Caped Crusader. And like every DC property that made its way to the silver screen since Heath Ledger took on the role of the Joker, this new take on the Batman is dark and brooding, set in a grimly-lit Gotham (it’s like dimly lit, but, you know, more grim and “realistic”).
In the trailer, we get introduced to the cast of villains and anti-heroes the Dark Knight will cross paths with, including the return of Catwoman, the Penguin, and none other than the Riddler, played in this iteration by Paul Dano. (I will always hold that they should have brought back Jim Carrey for the role because his version of the Riddler, while part of a low point in the Batmantheon, was perfectly over-the-top and befitting the character, and this is a hill I will die on.)
The trailer opens with the police storming a coffee shop to arrest a person whose face we never quite see. The camera pans down to his coffee and there’s a little latte art question mark, revealing that the person now in custody is Dano’s Riddler. Or was it?!
It’s yet another fun little coffee tie-in to a blockbuster action film, but what does it really mean? My theory: the person they arrested wasn’t the Riddler, though that’s who the cops thought they were getting. That person, who again the trailer didn’t show to be Dano—though it did look kinda like him, perhaps it was his twin brother?— was actually a patsy. The Riddler was at the cafe though, and it was, are you ready for this… dun dun duuuuuun… the barista.
Think about it, the question mark latte art is certainly a clue that the Riddler is afoot, but doesn’t it more point to the maker of the latte art than the recipient of it? Would the Riddler go into a coffee shop and be like, “Hi, I’d like a latte and can you put a little question mark in the foam on top? And can you put it in a green-trimmed saucer? Green is kinda my thing. Also, don’t fill up the cup all the way, I’m not all that thirsty.” And let’s be honest, the casting of Dano, who could just as easily play a genius sociopath as he could a sniveling coffee dweeb, is kind of maybe a little too on the nose. The Riddler leaves clues, like the one in the latte art, he doesn’t receive them.
And the Riddler would never be captured by the middling Gotham Police so easily. His whole thing is being the smartest guy in the room and always 10 steps ahead. The whole “arrested the wrong guy while the right guy was two feet away” is just the sort of machination the Riddler would create to taunt the authorities.
Frankly, it’s a kind of obvious twist once you think about it. Unless that’s what the Riddler wants us to think. Shit, wait, I’ve confused myself now. Am I the Riddler? I guess we’ll all just have to wait until March 4th, 2022, when The Batman hits theaters.