Two Bat-fans, one of them a bonafide puzzle-master, plowed through The Riddler’s cryptogram hours after it was first shown in The Batman’s trailer premiere on Saturday. Spoiler alert: The Riddler has weak riddle game — unless … we were meant to solve it quickly. In which case MAYBE THE RIDDLE’S ON US. Or something.
Anyway, in The Batman, Riddler (Paul Dano) is made out to be some kind of Zodiac-style menace packing his own alphabet. He leaves a greeting card on a murder victim, whose question is “What does a liar do when he’s dead?,” and the answer is a set of 11 symbols.
Andrew Lane and Mike Selinker arrived at their solutions by different means. Lane got his in first, on Saturday night. Lane started by assuming the first word was “Batman,” and tried to work out the alphabet from there. “I was incorrect, because the other symbols that are also in the second phrase created gibberish,” he said.
So Lane went back to basics, which was to replace the matching symbols in the first phrase with E, the most commonly used letter in the English language. He guessed the matching double letters in the last word were L, another common pairing.
That is sort of how Selinker got started. Selinker, a game designer (credits include the board game Axis & Allies, the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, and the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons) started by assigning each symbol a numerical value, and keyed on the double letter at the end of the answer, too. “It’s likely one of these: E, L, or S. It’s not crazy to imagine it as D, F, N, or T,” Selinker wrote. [But] unless Gorilla Grodd’s in this movie, I think we can dispense with these options.”
Selinker showed more of his process of elimination, but both he and Lane ended up pulling out the answer: “He lies still.” Which, of course, makes this a pun in addition to a riddle. But “The Punner” doesn’t have quite the same ring. Plus, nobody goes to a Batman movie wanting to groan and facepalm.
“I see folk saying I must be smarter than them for this,” Selinker added. “Don’t think that! You’re plenty smart. Also, yesterday I broke a shower curtain rod and stood there staring at it until my wife came home to put it back together.”
Thank you very much. I try to be!— Andrew Lane (@TheMasterD101) August 23, 2020
Fans on the DC Cinematic Universe subreddit also pieced it together on Sunday, so, if director Matt Reeves hired an actual cryptographer to do this, he should ask for his money back. Zodiac, at least, had sense enough to encrypt his messages after putting them in his made-up alphabet. Only one of them has been solved.
The Batman is scheduled for an Oct. 21, 2021 premiere. Robert Pattinson stars as Bruce Wayne, with Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catowman, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth.