Riddle Me This: When Does Batman’s Enigmatic Cipher Hunt Become an ARG?

In August 2020, Warner Bros shared the first trailer for Robert Pattinson’s debut as the caped crusader at DC FanDome. Attentive fans noticed that during that trailer, the Riddler carefully wrapped up a greeting card for Batman, posing an initial challenge: “What does a liar say when he’s dead?” The card went on to say “Haven’t a Clue? Let’s Play a Game, just Me and You…” before devolving into a series of nonsensical characters. Nonsensical, at least, until a fan decoded the script to complete the macabre puzzle: HE LIES STILL. A fun, throwaway easter egg that has since returned, launching what looks suspiciously like a new alternate reality game leading up to the March 4th release of The Batman.

Known cipher letters: EHILST

Image by @Bat_Source on Twitter – (full resolution image on their account)

The Batman (Cipher) Returns: Finding the Rabbit Hole
Last week, fans started to notice an enigmatic message at the bottom of movie standees at their local theaters. Using the letters uncovered from the prior easter egg, the message spelled out ??? ??E EL ??T? ?L???. Incredibly, fans were able to piece together the context clues to spell out YOU ARE EL RATA ALADA – a message that doubled as multi-lingual accusation of being a “winged rat”, as well as a clue to check out the URL “RataAlada.com“. At the time, visitors were greeted with a glowing green question mark, and nothing more.

Known cipher letters: ADEHILORSTUY

A New Round of Riddles
Earlier today, RataAlada.com unlocked with a series of riddles, designed for players to prove themselves, kicking off with the message “Let’s play a game just me and you?” If you’re here looking for hints, the answers have been shared, in ROT-13.

  • “What’s black and blue and dead all over?” ONGZNA
  • “I can be easy or a dead end. Careful when you cross me.” N FGERRG
  • “Those who make me are likely to break me.” YNJF

While the chatbot serves a highly utilitarian process in the experience, it hides more than a few delightful surprises to taunt players who try and get creative with the challenge. Checking the source code reveals a console.log message “Nice try. You won’t find anything here”, while navigating away from the page triggers lighthearted taunts: upon return, you might be greeted with the message “you scour the internet for truth, but you still need to answer me”, or “you search for the right answers, but you need to look deeper.” Wrong answers can lead to even harsher admonishments, with the chatbot’s chiding going so far as to say “with answers like that, no wonder Gotham suffers.

Once all three riddles are answered, the site’s chatbot rewards visitors with a JPG featuring a series of three sketches Pattinson’s Batman, with the beginning of an additional coded message hidden in the URL. Returning to the site, visitors are posed with a new question: “Have you ever been to the Iceberg Lounge?” Whatever the response, visitors are given the link to one final reward: a final ciphered message from the Riddler, along with a message: “That’s all I have for now. I’ll be back with more soon. Just stay vigilant.” The message doubled as promise of more to come and decoder ring for the final puzzle, as those final words were the key to unlocking more letters of The Riddler’s cipher.

Around the same time RataAlada.com went live, DC’s Twitter account shared an animated gif that translated the site’s opening prompt of “Let’s play a game just me and you” into the Riddler’s cipher text. The looped gif only replaced previously identified letters, but served as additional reinforcement for prior solutions.

Known cipher letters: ADEHILNORSTUVY

Does This Mean We Finally Have a New Batman ARG?
While it was easy to write off the Riddler’s initial coded message as an easter egg, the launch of RataAlada.com paired with the promise that the Riddler would be “back with more soon” makes Batman’s return to the world of alternate reality games all but certain.

It may not be as expansive as Why So Serious‘ multi-year campaign leading up to the release of The Dark Knight in 2007-2008 – their ability to do everything from a live event enlisting SDCC attendees into the Joker’s heist crew to holding Harvey Dent campaign rallies and hiding burner phones inside cakes was predicated on having over a year to roll out the narrative beats, and the release of The Batman isn’t too far off. But it does look like Warner Bros is returning to familiar ARGish territory to help welcome Robert Pattinson into the cinematic Bat Family, and the experience has promised more to come in some form.

So stay vigilant, and keep your eyes peeled for more signs and ciphers of things to come, on RataAlada.com and other dark corners of the world (both real and virtual). After all, with prior entries coming from both official trailer and in-theater promotional materials, who knows where we might next find the Bat’s signals?

2 Comments

  1. Hmmm. In those sketches, is that a bar code? I couldn’t get a scanner to read them.

  2. 9-13_14-15-20_1-14
    IM_NOT_AN

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