The 1/19 Day Thread Salutes the Riddler’s Spandex Bodysuit

I know what you’re thinking. Batman: The Animated Series really nailed a bunch of iconic designs for some of Batman’s most notable villains, and the Riddler is no exception.

So good, right? The bowler hat and suit, the little smirk, the (purely for show) cane. All of these things suggest a somewhat effete, haughty intellectual. Compared to some of Gotham’s underworld, he’s downright reserved: a single, simple question mark on his tie tells you who he is. This Riddler design appeals to taste and dignity; when “serious” comic fans want to read a new Riddler story or see the character adapted to the big screen, this is generally the Riddler they want to see.

Yet this, too, is the Riddler!

The difference seems like night and day; for where the BTAS Riddler represents a certain buttoned-up refinement, here is a man who peacocks around Gotham in a bodysuit that leaves nothing to the imagination, the myriad question marks dragging your eyes across his body whether you mean to or not. (And this Riddler has clearly been working on brawn to match his brain.)

Yet, perhaps these two outfits are not contradictory, but rather two sides of the same man. Indeed, on the Adam West Batman show of the 1960s, Frank Gorshin sometimes wore a “gangster” outfit not totally unlike the BTAS one, but other times wore a bodysuit. He switched between the two. This means something, to me.

The Joker has gone through many metamorphoses over the years, but generally speaking, he seems to feel obligated to wear some variation on a purple suit. The Penguin is compelled to outfit himself in top and tails, class symbols of a bygone era. The Scarecrow: he’s always gotta look like a scarecrow. But the Riddler? He decides what he wants to wear in the morning. Does he feel like a touch of class and elegance this morning as he plots his next move from the shadows? Or does he want to squeeze into some tights and a big purple girdle and attack Batman with a net? He will not allow himself to be boxed in by fashion, to feel chained to a single look.

Sometimes, the Riddler wants to look fierce.

Wear whatever makes you happy today, my friends, and enjoy the Day Thread.