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The Riddler's Batman Forever Lair Was Originally Far More Exciting

Jim Carrey’s flamboyant version of the Riddler in Batman Forever was originally supposed to have a far more exciting lair. Released in 1995, the first of Joel Schumacher’s two Batman films took the franchise in a drastically different direction from that of its previous director, Tim Burton. Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight, while Chris O’Donnell was cast as sidekick Robin.

After three very successful villains in Burton's films, Batman Forever attempted to outdo its predecessors with two exceedingly wacky interpretations of rogues’ gallery members Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler. Before his life as a supervillain, Carrey’s Edward Nygma was an unstable scientist at Wayne Enterprises who developed an obsession with Bruce Wayne. After his brainwave device is rejected by Bruce, Nygma sends the billionaire a series of riddles, plotting his revenge and forming an alliance with Two-Face.

Related: Batman Forever's Biggest Problem Was Using Riddler AND Two-Face

Jim Carrey’s Riddler performance was uncomparable and was undeniably over-the-top, but his enthusiasm fit Schumacher’s campy tone and provided one of the film’s most entertaining components. Batman Forever received a mixed response from critics, and one of its failings was a lack of compelling or innovative ideas. However, an early draft of the script boasts a wilder third act with an impressive Riddler lair. Although perhaps too elaborate and not entirely in keeping with the character, his original hideout was to feature bold designs that would have connected to a more psychological Batman subplot that was largely removed from the final film.

Batman Forever’s third act takes place in an elevated fortress posing as Nygma’s new company. Once inside, the lair is disappointingly simple, depicting a dark throne room adorned with neon question marks. The setting is much more complicated in an early draft of Schumacher's underrated Batman Forever, wherein Kilmer's Batman and O'Donnell's Robin tackle a series of “geometrically impossible castle-like stairs and walkways” intended to resemble a famous painting by Karl Escher. The large room is a gravity-defying world with passages that twist sideways and upside down, while all stairways lead in the opposite direction to which they appear. The purpose of this location was to provide a dizzying scramble for the captive Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), held at knifepoint by Two-Face. Sadly, it’s understandable why this was removed, as confusing as it is captivating. The idea of the group chasing one another through the complex is undeniably amusing but may have resembled Scooby-Doo or a couch gag from The Simpsons.

The Riddler’s lair was more than just a massive puzzle. It was designed to further explore his obsession with Val Kilmer’s Batman and break the crimefighter’s mind. Batman is separated from Robin by a maze of funhouse mirrors, watching helplessly from behind glass as his sidekick threatens Two-Face with the criminal’s knife. This would have given Robin’s story a more intense resolution and played into Batman’s fears of saving his loved ones. The crimefighter is then forced to relive his parents’ murder through an illusion transporting him to the infamous alleyway. Batman overcomes the Riddler’s manipulation, running through electronic projections of the Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman, and briefly encountering a Riddler robot before reaching the mastermind himself. Batman Forever’s filmmakers probably struggled to conceive of a way to realistically film this climax, and some ideas were arguably best left out. The mirrors and traumatic illusions are thrilling, but the funhouse aesthetic is more befitting the Joker.

One problem with Batman Forever was that both Two-Face and the Riddler tried to replicate Joker with their exaggerated performances, therefore extra comparisons in the film's climax wouldn’t have helped. Still, the psychological torment would have significantly benefitted Batman’s half-hearted character arc. The Riddler's actual lair is regrettably tame in comparison, whereas the early draft paints the villain as a more intimidating foe.

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