The Batman: Biggest Potential Villain Reveals From The Riddler's Journal

Warning: major spoilers ahead for "The Batman."

"The Batman" took over the box office last week, and it appears that the Riddler (Paul Dano) isn't done with us yet. In the movie, Bruce Wayne and James Gordon's investigation eventually leads them to a website,, which was a pivotal part of Riddler's nefarious master plan. More than its pivotal role in the blockbuster DC film, that same website has long been used in the real world as a component of the film's viral marketing efforts. 

The site, first appearing in December 2021, initially provoked visitors with a series of riddles that gave the reward of a cipher to the intelligent souls that correctly answered them. Well, despite Edward Nashton's Arkham incarceration he's evidently found a way to continue his interactions with the outside world, today releasing a series of updates that reveal the Riddler's puzzling journals and notes (and which happen to promise a comeback on subsequent visits).

Clicking the new site now releases a cryptic message from Arkham, and going deeper inside unlocks a downloadable zip file full of his evidence and journals (yes, it's safe to download THIS mysterious file from the internet ... at least it was for me). You've seen many of these materials before if you've watched "The Batman," but there are many more potential hints where that came from if you're willing to dig a little deeper. Which I did, like Alfred, so Bruce Wayne doesn't have to! Here are the biggest teases from this swath of materials, from the most direct to the most subtle. 

He wrote of JOKES and riddles

"The Batman" features a scene following Riddler's incarceration in Arkham that suggests his newfound friendship with another famous Gotham villain. Riddler, deeply upset about Batman's perceived betrayal and thwarting of his well-developed plans, is ranting away in his Arkham cell. In the film, the barely-seen new character (played by Barry Keoghan) comforts Riddler before emitting an odd laugh. "One day you're on top, the next you're a clown. Well, let me tell you, there are worse things to be," the prisoner tells him. "Don't be sad. You did so well, and you know Gotham loves a comeback story."

You can probably guess who that character is intended to become, and an earlier cut of the film had another, now-deleted scene with the character. Clicking on Riddler's site teases that the pair indeed have a newfound friendship and future plans for Gotham, as the Riddler states from Arkham's depths:

"You've come this far. Now, let's see if you're willing to discover more. While you unmask everything that has yet to be revealed, I'm safe here. With my new friend. We will see you soon."

Buried in Riddler's journals is yet another, more interesting tease of the nefarious villain we know as Joker. Following a host of journal entries where Riddler chides Gotham and expresses his desire for revenge on behalf of his pain and orphans everywhere, the last journal entry (July 21st) before the journal becomes increasingly unintelligible repetition also teases the "Clown Prince of Crime."

It's a clear nod to Joker in Riddler's acknowledgment that "sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry [...] but I am not the one who laughs, I am the one who confronts, who challenges, who does not give up!" With the site itself reminding us of his newfound friendship with the criminal who may yet become Joker, alongside this clear detail, we're clearly not done with the Clown Prince of Crime yet.

That Martha Wayne photo is a little bit STRANGE

Another subtle detail that could herald a major villain is buried in a single photo. The picture, which we see briefly in the film, is from Martha Wayne's time of incarceration in Arkham. In the film, it was solely used as evidence of the Wayne family misdeeds — namely, Carmine Falcone's murder of the reporter who sought to leak them as an attempt to gain leverage over Thomas Wayne. All the focus in the film on Martha Wayne in the photo obscures a potential villain who may be hiding in plain sight: Hugo Strange, one of Batman's first recurring villains, and a formidable one (both physically and intellectually) with a deep background in both psychology and chemistry.

You can see Professor Strange (who I won't call Doctor Strange here, because no one needs that confusion) in the image above. While he's had slightly different looks in earlier eras (noticeably regarding animated adaptations that give him varying degrees of hair), the bald head is classic Strange, alongside a gloriously maintained chin strap beard and coke bottle glasses. Now look at the gentleman in front of the orderlies and Martha Wayne in the Riddler's Arkham photos:

Sitting peacefully on a bench at Arkham Asylum, dressed neither like a white-clad orderly nor a patient, is a man wearing what looks like slacks, a collared shirt beneath a jacket, a chin strap beard (with hair on his head too, but hey, the photo was taken a long time ago), and evidently rounded glasses.  Given that one of the spin-off series will be set at Arkham and Strange is notable for his career in that very asylum, he's a natural fit and a dangerous foe for Batman. It's also worth noting that Riddler's boards repeat the figure from one of his cards, the mad chemist, which bears a slight resemblance to Strange as well (note those spectacles!) — a villain who is, indeed, also a chemist:

You can almost certainly expect an antagonist in the upcoming Arkham series to be a little bit Strange.

Don't be AFRAID if you missed this subtle nod

Beyond the aforementioned villain teases, the Riddler's furious evidence-gathering has some additional subtle elements that may prefigure villains who could appear elsewhere in the Batverse. In one photo on the conspiracy board in Riddler's "sanctuary," Mayor Don Mitchell is seen in the upper-right hand corner with his face slashed out — slashes over the eyes and more over his mouth. While this is an extremely subtle reference, the pattern of slashes resemble a common mask of one of Batman's most iconic villains: the Scarecrow. 

Scarecrow (above-right) is one of Batman's most iconic villains, using fear-based weaponry to achieve his aims, wage war on the Bat, and inflict terror wherever he can. Scarecrow utilizes his mastery of both psychology and chemistry towards these ends, and he boasts one of the most interesting costumes of all Batman's villains: a literal scarecrow, complete with said haunting mask. The typical Scarecrow mask has a bag-like texture with slashed out eye-holes alongside slashes for a mouth. 

Now, the very, very, very dead Mayor is not the Scarecrow (whose alter-ego is typically Dr. Jonathan Crane) but the slashing is so specific to the visage of that single villain that it may well be deliberate. With the Arkham spin-off on the horizon, it's worth noting that Crane is also well known for his long connection to Arkham as a frequent resident and escapee. Given that Bruce Wayne of "The Batman" still has yet to conquer fear, Jonathan Crane could absolutely show up in a future outing to test The Bat's resolve.

Read all the journals, Riddler took so much TIME to write them

Riddler's ramblings may also foreshadow a less prominent Batman villain in a way that's even more subtle. Throughout the journal you'll find a series of odd repeated references to time, something that hasn't really been one of Riddler's obsessions. In his July 15th entry, he give the alarming warning that "our time will come Gotham. Our time will come," and later "all of us suffering in time. Caught in time [...] time will never release me, never let me go. But I will TAKE TIME back." 

In the aforementioned July 21st entry, following the Joker nod he writes "time has kept me prisoner in the orphanage." Throughout the journals he keeps coming back to references to the concept of time, a concept foreign to his themes but which does relate to the M.O. of three major time-themed villains: Holiday (from "The Long Halloween," one comic arc that influenced "The Batman"), Calendar Man (Julian Day), and the Clock King (William Tockman).

Technically any of these could be subtly referenced here, and could be included in the future in some way, but let's take a minute to parse through them. Despite the "The Long Halloween" inspiration, Holiday is least likely given that, in the arc, the Holiday killings are an ever-shifting cover for various crimes by Alberto Falcone (Carmine Falcone's son in the comics), Two-Face (Harvey Dent's criminal alter-ego), and Gilda Dent (Dent's fiancée). Given that "The Batman" takes place in a version of Gotham where Carmine Falcone has no son (as far as we know) and there is no Harvey Dent (not yet, anyway) let alone the villain he becomes, this isn't plausible. 

Calendar Man is also not hugely plausible given there's no evidence of date-based criminal activity, as far as we know. Clock King here may be a stealth choice for a future Batman nemesis, given he's more focused on the abstraction of time itself, including time-themed crimes and technology, than the date-based crimes of either prior villain. Fitting well within Reeves' grounded universe, the traditional Clock King uses clock and time related gimmicks alongside a clock's hand sword (with which he is deadly). Of course, this is highly speculative, but it's odd and intentional for Riddler to focus so much on 'time' in the journal entries when that isn't central to his typical criminal obsessions.

"The Batman" is in theaters now.