The Batman's Riddler Plan Repeats Indiana Jones' Oldest Movie Complaint

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Batman.

Matt Reeves The Batman appears to make a mistake with its Riddler storyline that repeats one of the older issues with Indiana Jones’ first outing in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bruce Wayne and Batman have long storied histories which, while varied, can be expected to hit certain beats. However, The Batman’s treatment of Batman’s pursuit of the Riddler does something truly different but in a way that might feel frustrating.

The Batman sees the Riddler (Paul Dano) summon Batman (Robert Pattinson) to crime scenes over Gotham as he reveals a web of corruption that permeates Gotham. Manipulated by the Riddler, Bruce Wayne plays into his hands by unwittingly bringing Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) out of hiding so that Riddler can kill him. Even after this, Batman is blind to the larger picture of Riddler working to flood Gotham and can only provide damage control against his plan to kill the newly elected mayor because one of Riddler’s goons fails to make an initial killshot.

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This issue in The Batman where Bruce Wayne actually does nothing to prevent the Riddler’s plans and, if anything, only makes them worse, is eerily similar to a long-standing criticism of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). In the original movie, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is trying to stop the Nazis from taking the Ark of the Covenant back to Germany. However, if you were to remove Indiana Jones from the film, it has been argued that the events would play out in exactly the same way. At best, the only difference would be that the Ark would make its way to Germany and be opened in front of Hitler and his generals potentially preventing World War II. If you remove Batman from The Batman, Riddler would still have been able to expose most of the corruption he hoped to, blow up the seawall, and attempt to assassinate the Mayor. The only difference would be that Falcone would not have been murdered.

While it might seem like this was a huge mistake on the part of Matt Reeves and The Batman production team, it’s actually an important choice for the origin of this iteration of Bruce Wayne. In an era when corruption is more overtly rampant than ever and seems insurmountable, Riddler has been written as an antagonist that wants to expose corruption. While his motivations and methods are extremely misplaced (to say the least), Riddler actually has a point. If Batman were to have stopped Riddler from exposing the corruption that ran so deep throughout every part of Gotham, The Batman would have been put in a difficult position as to how to handle a Bruce Wayne who accepts being complicit in corruption or finds himself unable to make the political changes necessary himself.

By pulling a page from The Raiders of the Lost Ark playbook, Matt Reeves’ The Batman not only manages to show a na├»ve Batman who is still able to be manipulated without realizing it, the movie also gives Bruce Wayne a stronger origin story for today’s world. Pattinson’s Batman has been a reclusive nighttime vigilante billionaire who thought he was helping but was making things worse in a different way. Riddler’s plan was catastrophic, but Batman’s failure to stop it will stay with him for the rest of his narrative and, as is shown in the closing scenes of The Batman it provides the impetus for him to work more directly for good and serving as a symbol of hope. While the narrative might appear to run afoul of Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark mistake, The Batman is using that trick to give Batman the origin he needs to be the best Batman for the current day.

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