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The Riddler's Puzzle In The Batman Trailer Has Already Been Solved

Fans were hoping that DC FanDome would give them a good look at The Batman, Matt Reeves' gritty noir take on the Dark Knight's early career, and the event didn't disappoint. Though only about a quarter of the entire movie was filmed before the teaser trailer for The Batman was cut, we still got some pretty cool-looking footage that offered up incredible looks at both Batman (Robert Pattinson) and his nefarious rogues' gallery. 

We were delighted by the appearance of a pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), and justly surprised by the Penguin, as played by a virtually unrecognizable Colin Farrell.  Still, the one villain who made the most impact in the footage was the Riddler (Paul Dano), who has seemingly been reimagined as a terrifying, hooded killer on a mission — teasing the Batman and leaving creepy clues for him to find. 

To drive home the character's menacing vibe, he's introduced to us while covering his latest victim's face and head with duct tape. One of his signature riddle cards even comes with a cryptogram that's faintly reminiscent of the messages of the real-life Zodiac Killer. Curiously, based on that particular clue shown in the trailer, this Riddler is either seriously underestimating his opponent's detective skills or just really, really wants the Batman to figure out his riddle. The coded message scribbled inside one of the cards addressed to Batman isn't as tough to crack as it seems, and one clever viewer has already solved the Riddler's puzzle seen in The Batman trailer. 

The devil is in the details

The surprisingly cute, owl-themed card — which could be a sneaky allusion to the Court of Owls, a villainous faction set to feature in the upcoming Gotham Knights game from Warner Bros. Games Montreal — asks the World's Greatest Detective a simple question: "What does a liar do when he's dead?" In the bottom right of the card, there's a series of strange symbols that seem like they might be hiding the answer to the Riddler's cryptic inquiry.

As author, game designer, and puzzle expert Mike Selinker pointed out on Twitter, there are two ways to find the answer, and he decided to do both. 

"I could just solve it like a riddle (and did), but it's a good opportunity to show how to solve a puzzle by brute force, so you're sure of the answer," he tweeted. He then revealed his "brute force" method to solve the mystery. By recognizing that the characters have a "123425 56433" pattern and recognizing that the "3" is most likely a consonant due to its placement in the sequence, Selinker was able to replace the numbers with letters — solving all but one of them until the correct answer emerged. 

"Finally, I considered xELIES SxILL. BELIES SKILL is okay, but it seems more likely that we break it in the first line as HE LIES. And the best word to follow that is STILL," wrote Selinker. "So we can conclude this is the very punny HE LIES STILL. And that's how you solve a cryptogram!"

So, there we have it. The Riddler's answer to "What does a liar do when he's dead?" is "He lies still." The lying victim literally lies still upon dying, but the Riddler could also be making a point about liars lying even after death. Hopefully, we'll find out what he actually means when The Batman arrives in theaters on October 1, 2021.