All Your Questions About the Mystery-Plot of ‘The Batman,’ Answered

Who was the rat? Who killed Batman's parents? What did the Riddler know?

by Richard Newby
The Scarecrow unrolling a roll of duct tape in "The Batman"
THE BATMAN Copyright: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/™ & © DC Comics Caption: PAUL DANO as Edward Nashton/the Riddler in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE BATMAN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The Batman spins quite a twisty mystery over the course of its three-hour runtime, one worthy of the skills from the “world’s greatest detective.” But of course, most of us can’t claim that distinction. We can’t even don a fake mustache and make our way through a Hercule Poirot investigation. At best, most of us might manage to untangle an episode of CSI before collapsing from exhaustion. That’s ok, we don’t have to be detectives to enjoy the way The Batman walks audiences through the mystery.

Still, it’s very easy for some details and names to get lost in the shuffle over the course of the film’s runtime. So, to make sure you really got it, we’re going to help out with this handy explainer. No, it won’t give you Batman’s detective skills, but it will put you, if not on the level of Veronica Mars, then at the very least Encyclopedia Brown. Here are the biggest questions you might still have about The Batman, explained as simply as possible. Spoilers ahead.

What’s The Riddler’s grudge against Gotham?

The Riddler (Paul Dano) is revealed to be an orphan of Gotham, once a child who fell through the cracks of the city’s system and was left to live in the misery of an overcrowded orphanage, while the charity funds from the Renewal Project that were supposed to go the orphanage were misused by Gotham’s city officials and the mob after the death of the Waynes. As an accountant for the city, Riddler discovered where the missing funds had gone and began targeting those who benefitted from the stolen charity funds and robbed him of a happy childhood.

Who was the rat?

Rataalada. Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) was the rat. Years prior to the events of The Batman, he tipped the police off to his main competitor in organized crime in Gotham, Salvatore Maroni, which led to the biggest drug bust in Gotham history. Those responsible for talking down Maroni, D.A. Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard), Commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns), and Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) allowed Falcone to take over the “drops” drug operation, while also receiving a cut. But that wasn’t enough for any of them. They got greedy and reallocated the funds from Thomas Wayne’s Renewal Project into their own pockets, leaving the city’s infrastructure and budget in a weakened state.

What was Thomas Wayne’s secret?

A reporter, with the surname Elliot, uncovered the secret history of Thomas Wayne’s wife, Martha Arkham, during his campaign for mayor. Her mother killed her father and then killed herself, and Martha spent years in and out of mental institutions. Wanting to protect his family from the fallout of that revelation he went to Carmine Falcone, whose life he’d saved years earlier, and asked him to lean on Elliot to scare him away from the story. Falcone killed Elliot and used it as leverage over Thomas Wayne. Wayne was disgusted by what had happened and realized his mistake. The night he planned to go to the police with the information, he and Martha were shot and killed.

Who actually killed Bruce Wayne’s parents in The Batman

We don’t know! This mystery remains! Falcone says it was Maroni. Alfred (Andy Serkis) reveals he thought it was Falcone for a long time but admits that there isn’t enough evidence. The murders could have been part of a conspiracy to protect the mob, they rob Gotham of its hope, or simply a random tragedy committed by a criminal looking to score.

Did the Riddler know Bruce Wayne was Batman?

Probably not? Although Bruce really thinks that the Riddler knows, it seems that by the end of the Riddler’s rant, he hasn’t connected it at all. Interestingly, Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) don’t know he’s Batman either. This is oddly uncommon for a Batman movie! Usually, at least ONE person figures it out!

Does Batman already know the Joker?

The conclusion of the film introduces an Arkham inmate (Barry Keoghan) who senses a kindred spirit in The Riddler. While we don’t get a clear look at him, the scars on the face and his manic laugh clearly point to this being the latest iteration of The Joker. Whether or not he and Batman already have history remains to be seen. He could be in Arkham because of a prior encounter with Batman, or if Reeves took a page out of Batman: The Telltale Series, he could be a long-institutionalized patient of Arkham who has never met the Batman but sees something in him that stirs him. That mystery is one that will have to wait until the inevitable sequel.

The Batman is out in theaters, now.