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Why The Batman's Final Riddle Could Mean More Than You Think

This article contains spoilers for "The Batman."

"The Batman" is taking the world by storm. People can't get enough of Robert Pattinson's take on Bruce Wayne, and his co-stars — Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Paul Dano as the cyberspace-dwelling serial killer Edward Nashton, aka the Riddler — have also drawn positive acclaim. It's the Riddler, however, who tends to draw fannish fascination. 

The character combines elements of the cipher-using Zodiac Killer with the technical trappings of a YouTube content creator. He streams all of his murderous deeds through the internet and maintains his own website to both interact with his faithful and taunt Wayne and James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). This creates a cult of personality that puts Gotham City dwellers in major danger. Riddler's mind games escalate, endangering more and more lives. Ultimately, he's unable to defeat Wayne, one of the rich Gothamites he blames for wielding wealth and corruption over the city's populace. Confined in Arkham Asylum at the movie's end, his ironic worship of Batman for being a rogue crimefighter remains lost on him — well, so far.

Batman fans have begun to seek each other out to debate the film's meaning and dig up Easter eggs hidden deep beneath its core. They gather in places such as the dedicated "The Batman" subreddit to talk about the movie, share their favorite scenes, and pick up on (and pick out) clues. Unsurprisingly, there's been a lot of discussion about the Riddler's riddles. There's one final noodle-scratcher offered up to Nashton during the film's final moments, and fans think they've cracked the code and figured out what the criminal posing it to him is hinting at. Here's what that riddle might mean for any future "The Batman" sequels.

Does this riddle hint that there's a Joker/Riddler team-up on the way?

In a r/TheBatmanFilm post, u/cooley363 posted a screencap from the Twitter account of @XXXLAiR, who notes that the Joker (Barry Keoghan) riddles Nashton this at the end of the film: "what's worth more the less you have?" @XXXLAiR noted that in blackjack, "if you pull a joker it automatically becomes worth as much as you need to reach 21." In other words, if you have a 2, the joker can increase in value to 19. "The Joker is worth more the less you have," the user explained.

Nashton has next to nothing as he sits in Arkham. Stripped of both his power over his followers and access to his website, he's failed his objective in ruining Bruce Wayne's life and gaining Batman's admiration. With nothing positive in his life except for the attention of his new cellmate, the only thing he has is the possibility of them sparking up a friendship. Is the Joker telling him that they're associates and that his fate is about to turn around? The Joker then offers up a bon mot to Nashton, declaring, "what is it they say? One day you're on top. The next, you're a clown." The twosome then share a good, long laugh. This bonhomie clearly hints that something is going to happen between them. Will they team up to take on Wayne/Batman in the next film?

Fans disagree about what the riddle truly means

Posters reacting to the theory on r/TheBatman have conflicting opinions about what the riddle truly means. "Time. Isn't that the answer?" asked u/srfrosky, who is not alone in this assessment. "It's also money, food, oxygen, clothes, water, and possessions," commented u/National-Somewhere72u/Fun_Station_9166·noted that the film's riddles "are all contextual." Using the example of Batman being misled by Nashton's "Rata Alada" riddle and coming to the correct conclusion after interviewing his original suspect, The Penguin (Colin Farrell), they say that the Riddler's puzzlers have multiple possible correct answers. Multiple users pointed out that the math seems off, but u/CommunicationSoggy53 believes that the Joker might have been trying to make the Riddler laugh. Other fans think the Joker's message might be much simpler.

Subreddit members also had some issues with the technical aspects of this theory. Many fans posting there eventually noted that this is not a rule of blackjack and that the joker is not often a card used in typical versions of the card game — @XXXLAiR later explained that they were referring to a game of 21st-century blackjack instead of the variety played in casinos.

Whatever that clever riddle means, many fans think such a team-up will lead to nothing but misery for the Riddler. "They canonically hate each other so that's cool!" exclaimed u/everlasting_bastard.  "I have a feeling the joker is gonna kill the riddler in the next movie," speculated u/cooley363. Fans may have to wait for a while to find out what, if anything, this team-up will have to offer. Warner Bros. has no announced sequel plans for "The Batman" at press time.