The Batman ending has left us with plenty of questions. The movie's three-hour runtime was a bladder-bursting experience, but the sheer momentum of Matt Reeve's new film meant that no one was leaving their seats. So much happened, and there's no shame in forgetting a few of the finer details.
With the Dark Knight's return being full of riddles (no surprise considering the villain), we've broken down exactly what happened in The Batman and answered some of your biggest unanswered questions. We even take a deep dive into the mysterious Batman website that has had armchair detectives the world over trying to work the Riddler's final ciphers. And thanks to this piece, you don't need to be the World’s Greatest Detective to discover the answers.
Before we go deep into The Batman ending, though, consider this your time to click away if you have not seen Robert Pattinson's new movie. Warning: major The Batman spoilers ahead!
The Batman ending: a recap
Throughout The Batman, Riddler (Paul Dano) leads Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) on a cat-and-mouse chase to uncover Gotham’s darkest secrets and untangle a web of lies.
The biggest conspiracy revolves around a phrase: "You are El Rata Alada." Batman translates it roughly as ‘rat with wings’ and it all centres on someone from Gotham’s underworld who has been feeding the GCPD info.
Batman and Gordon interrogate Penguin, who reveals a linguistical slip-up in their investigation. ‘You are El Rata Alada’ is grammatically incorrect. The first three syllables are actually referring to ‘URL’ and leads Batman to a website that provides further clues.
The ‘rat with wings’, we later find out, is Carmine Falcone (or, a 'falcon'). In a showdown with Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman at his club-within-a-club 44 Below, he reveals that he killed Catwoman’s mother as well as her friend, Annika. She goes to shoot Falcone, misses, and is eventually stopped by Batman.
Batman takes Falcone out and hands him over to GCPD, but he is shot and killed by the Riddler in the street. Paul Dano’s villain is apprehended in a nearby coffee shop – and covertly outlines his master plan to Batman while incarcerated at Arkham State Hospital. The tip-off leads him back to Riddler’s hideout. With the help of Gotham’s finest, he discovers a map to the city underneath the floorboards revealing his final message. Riddler has planted seven bombs around Gotham’s seawall, which explode and flood the city. Riddler also releases one final video to incite his legions of fans on social media to rise up.
This impacts a mayoral speech at Gotham Square Garden by new incumbent Bella Real. There, a gang of Riddlers attack as floodwater rushes in. Bella Real is shot – but not killed – and Batman eventually takes down the Riddler army. He then leads out the Gotham Square Garden survivors from the wreckage of the attack.
In a post-attack scene, Riddler is approached by an unnamed prisoner who says the pair should be friends.
Catwoman later pleads with Batman to leave Gotham behind so the two can team-up. He refuses, and the two are seen driving off on their bikes – in different directions – during the final scene.
How was Riddler caught? And what was his plan?
Riddler was always one step ahead of the police – and Batman. While his assassination of Falcone was undeniably clumsy for someone who meticulously plotted out his steps, his surrender at the coffee shop was certainly deliberate.
His capture not only left The Batman and the powers-that-be thinking like the job was done, but also arguably stoked the fires of Riddler’s legion of online fans to fight on his behalf.
Riddler’s ultimate plan was to bring the darkness and corruption of Gotham to light. That’s all because of the "Renewal Plan" to help re-establish Gotham 20 years ago falling by the wayside. Riddler (AKA Edward Nashton) grew up in an orphanage and resented those, such as Thomas Wayne, who said they would help renew the city. In actual fact, many of Gotham’s powerbrokers helped themselves to a piece of the renewal fund. The poor and needy were then left to fend for themselves in Gotham.
In terms of shining a light on Gotham’s corruption, it was very much job done. His final plan involved washing away Gotham and leading an insurrection. That was foiled by Batman at Gotham Square Garden, though the supervillain achieved pretty much all of his other aims. As Batman villains go, not a bad strike rate for the Riddler.
Who was El Rata Alada?
The mystery of El Rata Alada leads Batman first to Penguin, then to the big reveal: Carmine Falcone is the rat. It seems he – along with the DA, Mayor, and more of Gotham’s high-ranking officials – had been in cahoots for years. That even, allegedly, includes Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne – who Falcone helps out by having a journalist (who was smearing the Wayne family) killed. Thomas Wayne, though, did not want the journalist to die, but was under the thumb of Falcone because of how things panned out.
The ‘Rata’ is also part of one of Riddler’s final riddles. He wants the rat ‘brought into the light.’ That is in both a metaphorical sense – to show how incestuous the relationship between politicians and criminals are in Gotham – and in a literal sense. Batman brings Falcone outside his club and below a streetlight, thus giving Riddler a perfect shot to kill Falcone from his hideout overlooking Below 44.
Is Falcone really Catwoman's father? And did Falcone kill Catwoman's mother?
He is! And he did! What a nasty piece of work. Selina Kyle reveals that her mother – a dancer at Falcone’s club – told her the truth about her mobster father when she was younger. Falcone wanted nothing to do with either woman, strangling Selina’s mother and attempting to do the same to her.
What will Penguin do next?
Penguin is on the rise by the time we meet him in The Batman, but Colin Farrell’s ‘Ozzy’ certainly isn’t top dog of the underworld. Carmine Falcone ranks above him in the food chain and it’s clear he’s more of a mid-tier mobster. Given how The Batman ended, though, there is a power vacuum that needs to be filled in Gotham. And Penguin is the prime candidate to take over.
"It’s exciting to do something like that just as a standalone, but it speaks to the character and our movie, so that you’ll go back to the movie [and say], ‘Oh, I see that backstory there, that line refers to this’."
Who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne?
Deep into The Batman’s second act, it is revealed by the Riddler that Thomas and Martha Wayne were embroiled in controversy. Namely, Martha had health issues and was institutionalized. This was all dug up by a journalist named Edward Elliot – Comic book fans will know the name 'Elliot.' Thomas Elliot is the man who later becomes the villain Hush, and could have some relation to Edward here.
It is heavily implied that mob boss Sal Maroni had the Waynes killed after Thomas Wayne went to Carmine Falcone for help over the Elliot situation. Of course, that can still be retconned in the future. For now, though, it appears that the Waynes got in over their head and were on the receiving end of some gangster retribution – a far cry from the typical origin of the couple being caught in an alleyway after a theater showing by a random criminal.
What happened to Alfred?
Alfred bears the brunt of Riddler’s biggest surprise attack in The Batman. A package marked for Bruce Wayne arrives at Wayne Manor. Bruce, who is out on Bat-duty, is unable to receive it, with Alfred opening the mail – containing a bomb – instead.
Alfred survives the resulting explosion but is badly wounded. His relationship with Bruce, while strained after Bruce realizes he kept his father’s secrets from him, remains intact.
Why did Riddler think he and Batman were working together?
The Riddler has every reason to think he and Batman were in cahoots: The Batman was actually the one to reveal Gotham’s corrupt underbelly by solving Riddler’s clues, and he even brought Falcone "into the light" so Nashton could bump him off.
As we see later on, that’s clearly not the case. One of The Batman’s most intriguing scenes is the prison interrogation between Batman and The Riddler. That’s due to it being laced with double meaning: at first, Batman thinks Riddler has figured out that he’s Bruce Wayne. He soon realizes that Riddler actually means that Bruce Wayne was the final piece of Gotham’s elite that didn’t fall.
From a warped point-of-view, the two may share similar goals – eradicating evil from Gotham – but have very different methods. Batman still cares about his city, whereas the Riddler is happy to wash it all away.
How did Riddler get an army?
At first glance, it may not be entirely clear how Riddler suddenly had a large group of copycats willing to dish out mob justice on his behalf. If you were keeping tabs on the villain’s hostage videos, however, you’ll notice that social media played a considerable (and frightening) part in proceedings.
As the movie goes on, Riddler is shown to have more and more fans on social media, each of them egging Nashton on with comments and advice. While it’s one of the more undercooked elements of the film, that social media activity is the catalyst for those who have been radicalized to fight in the Riddler’s name in the final act during the flooding at Gotham Square Garden.
What next for Gotham?
First thing's first, Gotham has a serious clean-up operation to take care of. For inspiration, any potential Batman sequel could look towards 1999 comic book series ‘No Man’s Land.’
There, Gotham was rocked by an earthquake and saw various crime bosses and factions carve up the city, each taking their own slice of territory.
On the big screen, Gotham is now bolstered by both Batman and a new mayor, Bella Real. Whatever is thrown the city’s way, expect those two to act as the sword and shield to help protect the city.
One other loose end for Gotham’s short-term future is that of Thomas Elliot, the journalist who was seemingly killed after getting a little too close to the Waynes’ personal history. If he’s still alive and kicking – and been doing some digging on a certain Bruce Wayne – then there’s every chance that Batman could adapt parts of the ‘Hush’ comic book story, which sees Thomas Elliot return to Gotham and wreak vengeance on its underworld as the bandaged villain Hush.
What did Batman inject himself with?
Batman doesn’t find himself physically outmatched often during The Batman, but he’s overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the Riddler army during its third act. In one moment, where he’s left shaken and possibly concussed, he injects a vial of green liquid into his leg.
Now, it could simply be adrenaline, but comic book fans will know any sort of green chemical is likely going to be Venom, the addictive drug that gives Bane super strength. If that’s the case, expect any possible follow-ups to deal with either Bruce Wayne’s dependency on the drug or bring in Bane himself. It’s surely sowing the seeds for something down the line…
Who plays the Joker in The Batman?
Though labeled as "Unseen Arkam Inmate" in the credits, that's almost definitely the Joker, who is played by Barry Keoghan. The Irish actor is perhaps best known to comic book movie fans for his recent role as Druig in Eternals. He’s also appeared in The Green Knight and Dunkirk.
Are Riddler and Joker teaming up?
It sure looks that way. A shadowy prisoner asks Riddler a riddle of his own: “The less of them you have, the more one is worth.” The answer? “A friend.” The two cackle together and it looks like the most unholy of alliances has been formed in the bowels of Arkham.
Common logic would dictate that Riddler and Joker might fight Batman together in a sequel, though that could always be put on ice – the likes of Mr. Freeze and the Court of Owls have been mooted as villains by director Matt Reeves and star Robert Pattinson respectively.
It could also be a quick way to set up a semi-recent comic book arc, titled “The War of Jokes and Riddles” – which sees the two supervillains face off in a dispute over who should be the one to kill the Batman.
What does the final scene mean?
Large portions of The Batman are pretty subtle. The final scene – which sees Catwoman and Batman drive off in opposite directions – is less so. On a literal level, the distance between the two is pronounced; Catwoman had previously asked Bats to team up and head to Bludhaven. After his rejection, they’ll now be riding solo.
There’s also the heavy-handed metaphor: where Batman is going one way, Catwoman is likely headed in another, potentially antagonistic direction. Her character has long been positioned as an anti-hero in comics and other media, so don’t be surprised if this is the scene we can point to if Zoe Kravitz’s feline friend turns foe in The Batman’s near-future.
Post credits secret?
After the credits roll, you may have been expected a proper The Batman post-credits scene. Unfortunately, there's no such luck, with director Matt Reeves deciding instead to not have the usual tag. There is, though, something: a final "Good Bye" from the Riddler as those words appear on the screen. Then, as they dissipate, a website address appears.
If you visit the website (www.rataalada.com), you'll encounter a message from The Riddler. Now, there have been a few variations of the website. The first prompted users to answer three riddles. By putting in the answers ("Mask," "Renewal," and "Confusion," along with the final password is "promise") you unlocked a mini-movie: the mayoral campaign video for Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas, with a few notes from Riddler. The word "HUSH!" are painted over Thomas Wayne's face.
This could be a reference to the comics, in which Hush is Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Thomas Elliot. Elliot blames Thomas Wayne for saving the lives of his parents when he was actively trying to murder them to inherit their fortune, and eventually aligns himself with the Ridder and takes on the 'Hush' moniker. In The Batman movie, Thomas Elliot is the journalist who looks into the Wayne family's history, but they are apparently killed by Carmine Falcone. Could they return as a future villain in subsequent Batman movies? We'll have to wait and see.
Following The Batman's release in cinemas, the Rataalada website changed. The Riddler no longer prompts you to answer any questions on the website. Instead, some Matrix-esque code shows up on screen, quickly disappearing, and then a hyperlink to another page shows up. On the page, titled "It's Not Over Yet," there's an image that needs deciphering.
What does it mean? Spoilers for the answer:
"You think I'm finished, but perhaps you don't know the full truth. Every ending is a new beginning. Something is coming."
The question we have now: what is coming? Presumably, Riddler's teaming up with Joker for a plan to cause havoc in Gotham. But there's also another clue on the Rataalada website. That green text that showed up at the beginning may actually be a hint towards what's next for Robert Pattinson's Bats.
Those numbers aren't random. As pointed out by Reddit, they each point to a key moment in Bat-History.
27.05.19.39 is May 27, 1939 – which is the day the real-life comic-book Detective Comics #27 was released. That was not-so-coincidently the first-ever appearance of Batman. The rest refer to, in order: the introduction of Catwoman and Joker; Penguin’s first appearance; Riddler’s first appearance; Falcone’s first appearance, and Alfred’s first appearance.
Those characters are all key players through The Batman, but it's the last piece of code that's particularly interesting – and teases a sequel. October 1974 saw the release of Batman #258, which featured Two-Face breaking out of Arkham. Don't be too surprised if Harvey Dent shows up soon.
Following that screen, there was a countdown towards something. That countdown has now ended, and the website gives you a chance to download a reward. Click on the link and a Zip file will begin downloading with numerous images inside. There's also a message from the Riddler, reading: "You’ve come this far. Now, let’s see if you’re willing to discover more. While you unmask everything that has yet to be revealed, I’m safe here. With my new friend. We will see you soon."
It's safe to say that Riddler's going to be in Arkham alongside his new friend – yes, it's the Joker – for some time. Until then, we can have fun deciphering the images in that Zip file. Good luck with that, internet! (For what it's worth, the image labeled "maze-1" seems to be a cipher that ends up being: "You are el rata alada.")
Want more on The Batman? Check out our guides to:
- The Batman Easter eggs and references
- The Batman secret message you missed
- Was Joaquin Phoenix's Joker meant to be in The Batman?
- When is The Batman on HBO Max?
- Who plays Joker in The Batman?
- The best Batman movies, ranked!
- How to watch the DC movies in order
In a DC mood? Look ahead to the new superhero movies coming your way in 2022 and beyond.