But then there’s that last opaque riddle. “The Sins of My Father??” is written on the floor, with a chalk line leading directly to a question mark in the center of the room where Bruce is standing. Notably, there are no incriminating photos accompanying these scribblings. Is the “father” referring to the Riddler’s parent or the Batman’s? Given one of them is (presumably) Edward Nygma and the other Bruce Wayne, the son of Gotham’s last richest city elder, it’s pretty easy to guess. Thus this teases several things for comic book fans:
- The Riddler has beef with Thomas Wayne.
- The Riddler knows Batman is Bruce Wayne, with this scene looking like it could be in the Batcave.
- The Riddler has personal reasons for wanting to kill Batman.
This would certainly explain the hostility of the Riddler’s messages to Batman in the new trailer, which instead of a funny play on words can be as blunt as “see you in hell.” At another point in the trailer, he promises the Batman that he’ll be “black and blue, and dead all over” before this story is over. All of which echoes the criminal conspiracy in Hush.
The Hush Connection
In the Loeb/Lee comics, the Caped Crusader stumbles into a criminal conspiracy involving the Riddler and a character he never knew was his enemy: Thomas Elliot, aka Hush. On the page, Elliot and Bruce were childhood friends, at least in Bruce’s mind, with Elliot taking after Bruce’s father and becoming a gifted surgeon. That is until Elliot fakes his death at the hands of the Joker, getting Batman to mourn his passing. In actuality though, Elliot entered into an elaborate plan with the Riddler, who through complicated means had finally deduced that Bruce Wayne is Batman. As it turns out, Elliot also had a lifelong grudge against the Waynes because when he was a boy, he attempted to murder his own parents by sabotaging their car. But Thomas Wayne, the other gifted surgeon and Elliot’s namesake, was able to save the life of Elliot’s mother—resulting in Elliot being unable to inherit his parents’ fortune for decades to come.
It’s a pretty absurd motivation, but it provides the impetus for a mysterious masked villain who hides behind bandages and who engineers Batman’s downfall, including by collaborating with a slew of the Dark Knight’s classic rogues gallery who make cameo appearances. Yes, Penguin is among them.
Interestingly, Hush has been adapted before in several mediums, but it’s never been done exactly the same as in the comics. In the Batman: Arkham games, Elliot/Hush features in a subplot across two games where it is revealed he used plastic surgery in order to look like Bruce Wayne and steal his fortune (which has roots from a different comic storyline). Meanwhile, and perhaps more intriguingly for The Batman, a 2019 animated film released straight to video by DC Animation combined the characters of Hush and Riddler, with the latter still figuring out Batman’s identity and then creating the Hush persona to lure an unsuspecting Batman and Catwoman into his new, more violent game without riddles.
While we doubt Reeves is turning to a direct-to-video animated film for inspiration, it does provide a recent example of the creative impulse to rework Hush into a Riddler storyline that jettisons Elliot’s soapy motivation for vengeance. Although that doesn’t mean you couldn’t create another involving the Waynes. Plus, the Riddler isn’t the only major rogue from Hush who’s prominently featured in The Batman trailer.