The Penguin, working title for the spin-off TV series from The Batman (2022), has added another name to the cast list as production got underway this month, March 2023. On this occasion, appointed actor Theo Rossi‘s role in the show appears to be a mystery.
So far eight of the eleven actors confirmed to the show don’t have confirmed character names attached to them. Anyone looking for clues to the story based on the list of characters who will be appearing will come up short – so what do we know about the proposed eight-episode series?
Warner Bros television and DC Studios were planning a Penguin series even before the The Batman hit cinemas and HBO Max put their order in just after release. With actor Colin Farrell keen to don the fat suit and prosthetic make-up again, and the critical success of the movie, you just knew that this was a project that had traction.
Not only was Farrell unrecognizable as Penguin in the movie, but the character was a far cry from the flamboyant iterations already known to wider audiences, thanks to memorable screen versions in Batman, the television series (1966), Batman: Returns (1992) and Gotham (2014-2019).
The Batman director Matt Reeves described him as, initially, a:
Mid-level mobster guy and he’s got a bit of showmanship to him, but you can see that he wants more and that he’s been underestimated.
Rather than having a hook to his personal brand of menace a la Joker or the Riddler, Oswald Cobblepot – or Oz as he’s known in the movie – is probably most effective (or destructive?) when leading a crime syndicate, particularly in the grounded, more “real-world” adaptations of the Dark Knight universe. As such, one thing we knew very early about the TV show, is that it will be about Oswald’s fight for control of Gotham’s criminal activities.
Thanks to Colin Farrell’s loose lips, we also know that it takes place directly after the movie which saw Gotham flooded. Farrell said:
[The Penguin] starts about a week after the film The Batman ends, so Gotham is still somewhat underwater. I read the first script for the first episode, and it opens up with my feet splashing through the water in Falcone’s office. Even just that alone, I read it, I was like, “Oh, jeez.”
In the movie, ‘mid-level mobster’ Oswald was the chief lieutenant to crime kingpin Carmine Falcone, but Falcone’s death by the end of the film leaves an inevitable power vacuum. Looking at the characters that have been named for the TV series, we can see that the players in that power struggle will include Falcone’s daughter Sofia, to be played by Cristin Milioti, and Salvatore Maroni, in a role filled by the formidable Clancy Brown (who’s certainly used to playing bad guys).
Interestingly, both characters feature in the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween (1996) by Jeff Loeb and the late Tim Sale. It was one of the stories that provided a source inspiration for The Batman not just because it featured Bruce Wayne in his second year on the job, but also because of the crime noir tone that saw the inclusion of Salvatore Maroni and Carmine Falcone.
The story also charted the rise of Oswald Cobblepot into his larger-than-life persona, so maybe it’s time to return to this classic for clues. If that is the case, the rumor that actor Michael Zegen has been cast as Carmine Falcone’s son, Alberto, may see the introduction of The Holiday Killer plotline. Also, another significant player in The Long Halloween is Harvey Dent, who has his face burned. Makes you want to check the faces on that cast list again, doesn’t it?
When I first heard of a TV show about the Penguin, I was worried that it would mean that we might not see him in the sequel to The Batman. Now I’m less concerned. With production already underway, the series will probably hit screens in 2024, plenty of time before The Batman: Part II which is scheduled for release on October 3rd, 2025. By then, barring a shock ending to the TV show, the Penguin could be in place as crime boss, and we may have our Harvey Dent.
With news that the Reeves-produced back-to-basics animated show Batman: The Caped Crusader is heading to Amazon, it seems that the acclaimed writer/director’s crime-focused, noir Batman universe is on firm footing.
For now, on a smaller stage beneath the notice of Batman and more unpredictable psychotic villains, the Penguin will rise – so keep checking back with Dark Knight News to see how the show develops.
What detective work have you done about The Penguin? We’d be keen to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Original news story source Deadline. Images may be subject to copyright.