Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Oswald Cobblepot was born into money, but he was shunned from Gotham's high society because he's not exactly as handsome as Bruce Wayne. So he takes beloved birds and the penguin nickname he'd been teased with as a kid and goes into career villainy. Traditionally, he's just a standard criminal with a bird theme and a variety of umbrella weapons, but recently he's been transformed as the owner of the Iceberg Lounge nightclub who has more criminal connections than anyone (and conducts his business just as ruthlessly as his mafia friends).
Pros: Penguin, along with the Riddler and Catwoman, is one of the most famous villains yet to appear in the movie series, and his inclusion would please many fans. Although his
Cons: People either associate the character with Burgess Meredith or Danny DeVito. While I love Burgess Meredith's version, neither is at all what a Christopher Nolan Batman villain should be. When people hear about him being in the movie, they might get the wrong idea and avoid it. Penguin is also not physically imposing, so a movie with Penguin would lack a satisfying fight scene at the end. Plus, as I mentioned in Catwoman's entry, one of the writers said they wouldn't use any of the bad guys from the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films, and Christopher Nolan specifically said in an interview with Esquire that "There are certain characters that are easier to mesh with the more real take on Batman we're doing. The Penguin would be tricky."
How I'd do it: The most important thing would be to get away from the Danny DeVito version. A mutated freak won't work. Physically, he'd just have to be an ugly chubby dude with a big nose. Jason Aaron, writer of Scalped, wrote a fantastic Penguin one shot (from which the above image was taken) for the Joker's Asylum series, which is probably the best Penguin story I've ever read. It captures the character, especially as it would work in a Dark Knight follow-up, perfectly. A rich nightclub owner with mob ties, ugly, wounded, and with a vicious mean streak.
Casting Guesses: Philip Seymour Hoffman was the rumor going around for a while, and he could certainly pull it off, but even though I did already suggest him for Hugo Strange, Paul Giamatti could nail it. UPDATE: Bob Hoskins is being rumored for the part as well, and he'd be a fine choice.
Verdict: It could be done, but I think it's a long shot, given what we've heard from the creative team. A few weeks ago I would've said no way, but that Jason Aaron book really revived my interest in the character.