Rumor Patrol: Penguin to Be the First Villain in ‘Gotham’ Series?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated January 26th, 2014 at 5:44 pm,

The Penguin in Batman Arkham City Rumor Patrol: Penguin to Be the First Villain in Gotham Series?

In our ongoing cultural obsession with all things Batman, the news that the release of Batman vs. Superman has been delayed to 2016 (or has it?) was a disappointment, but at least we’ll have Fox’s Gotham series in the meantime. Focusing on a pre-Batman Gotham City, the show will be centered on a young Jim Gordon and his early days in the GCPD, with CSI veteran Danny Cannon directing the pilot.

Which just about does it for the hard news. The rumors, on the other hand, have been steadily coming in – and they’ve been a little confusing. We were originally told that Donal Logue (TerriersSons of Anarchy) might be playing Gordon – placing the character at an older age than we were expecting – until the actor denied it. However, it turns out that Logue was instead approached to play Detective Harvey Bullock, not the future commissioner and ally of the Bat.

News on Gotham‘s casting front has gone quiet, but we have an update on the other crucial aspect of the show – the villains. We know Gotham will supposedly feature origin stories for Batman’s gallery of classic villains, including the Joker, Riddler, Catwoman and Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penguin.

In fact, according to Latino Review‘s El Mayimbe, a young version of the Penguin will be Gotham‘s first villain. Here is El Mayimbe’s completely unconfirmed tweet with the news:

So is it true? Latino Review has been bringing the scoops lately, and this rumor does fall in with the previous reports about Gotham including younger, unformed version of Bat-villains. Still, there is no official confirmation of any of this, so take it with some salt.

As far as the Penguin goes, the various renderings of his origin story are perhaps the most down-to-earth of the classic villains, with his New 52 re-introduction keeping the character basically the same as in past incarnations. The deep history presented in the Batman: Arkham City video game, however, might be a keeper for Gotham. Like many of the Batman continuities, Oswald is presented as the latest in the line of Cobblepots, one of a handful of very old, prominent Gotham City families and rivals of the Waynes.

New 52 Penguin Rumor Patrol: Penguin to Be the First Villain in Gotham Series?

As he is often depicted as being a legitimate business owner as far as the public is concerned – as well as a sadistic, ruthless gangster and black marketeer behind closed doors – the younger Cobblepot on the rise in Gotham City’s criminal underworld might be a good storytelling template for Gotham to start with.

We’ve heard from Fox chairman Kevin Reilly that Gotham will be “an operatic soap with a larger than life quality,” and while the “soap” part of that statement might be troubling to some, slowly ramping up the larger-than-life aspect of Batman’s world would be an interesting arc for what many presumed would be a police procedural with comic book characters.

With that in mind, the approach to the Penguin’s characterizations will be closely followed – he was given a truly grotesque rendering by Danny DeVito in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, and was memorably gruesome in the Batman Earth One comic, so should we expect something similar from Gotham?

We’re still in the dark as to the tone and even the exact time frame of the show, and this report does little to clear that up. Batman and the Penguin are usually depicted roughly as contemporaries, but if Gotham really is including a 10-year-old Bruce Wayne while Cobblepot is in his twenties, will many of the other classic villains also be more than a decade older than Bruce? This may be problematic as the show approaches the point of (supposedly) introducing Batman. Stay tuned for more news as it surfaces.


Gotham is currently in development and will air on Fox.

Source: El Mayimbe

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
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  1. Cool. I just hope they don’t use up every single big tier Batman villain before Batman even shows up. Batman shows up, and costume criminals follow in his place. This show should focus more on dudes like Zsasz, Calendar Man or the Birthday Boy from Batman: Earth One. Just every day, f*cked up serial killers.

    • I totally agree

    • would it matter tho? the show ends with Batman putting on the cape they said. it’s not like you would see him fight any of those big tier villains, might as well use them.

      • Its like what I said, the thing with costumed villains like Joker, Riddler, Scarecrow etc is that its escalation. Costumed hero like Batman shows up, that means a new breed of villain shows up. Its a point the Dark Knight movie and a lot of the comics these days emphasize on.

        • Plus it’s a chance to use mob bosses and villains the movies might never include in their plots/casting sheets.

          Why waste known villains on a TV show when they could be saved for the movies and the villains we’ll never see in the movies can be used instead on the TV show?

          • Yes but what is the sense in having a Gotham show without some of the most popular Gotham residents?

            If the series truly predates the movies (which MoS2 has an older Batman) the series can cover how the villains rose to power and grew to what they are or will become in the movies. Showing why a regular police force cant handle them anymore.

            Cobblepot (and others) is not a one and done however he does not have to be the main antagonist throughout the series.

            What is wrong with showing a Cobblepot for two episodes getting beat/jailed/run out/hide under ground/give up for now etc. and not use him until the next season? Filling in with all the mobs and higher level gangster types for half a season do a Riddler type character for the last two episodes etc.

            They will need to handle time and continuity to pull it off. If someone is jailed, keep them jailed for a bit.

            Use filler villians/gangs/crimes between that.

            The show will also need some name recognition in its stories.

            • There are so many _normal_ criminals in Gotham. There’s the Falcone’s the Maroni’s to name a couple, then there’s the less organized gangs. Those all make for a great crime procedural.

              Then some of the weirder criminals like Zsasz, Calendar Man, and etc. Then you have your top tier guys. Joker, Riddler, Two Face, Penguin, Bane, The Al Ghuls, Mr. Freeze, etc.

              I think all the top tier guy should be left out entirely and then you can have the organized crime on one hand and the psycho serial killers, bank robbers, and etc. on the other.

              It sounds like someone is really pushing for this to be “Batman lite,” though, so that’s likely not going to happen.

              • That’s what I’d prefer. Just keep it at the mob level and show why Gordon is the way he is. We don’t need to see top tier supervillains (other than the likes of Penguin) until much later because as already pointed out, Batman mostly dealt with the mob until his antics brought costumed criminals to Gotham due to his allure and mystery.

              • But I think they can be added. Last Joker origin I recall had him as a comedian (not very good) and getting in trouble with crime.

                So we would not see the Joker but who the Joker was and possibly why he is (or eventually is) the way he is.

                Same with Cobble, the Riddler…

                This is the place to showcase why The Joker is the way the Joker is.

                Dont get me wrong I would not want to see a Joker type character every episode.

                Gotham and the crime in Gotham made a lot of the top tier villains. You can still have them without making any mention of Batman.

                When did Batmans antics bring the criminals? So they see someone successfully beating them down time and time again so they decide to show up?

                Or their life in Gotham made them who they are and Batman costumed only enhanced that?

                You guys misunderstand I dont want The Joker I want the person who became the Joker. I want Cobblepot teased as a kid, growing up and still to a degree getting no respect losing the family money, etc and so forth.

                Of course I am basing all my knowledge off pre 52.

            • Why mention the movies? The movies will have nothing to do with this. The writers are not thinking about movie continuity with this show. They couldn’t care less. This will be a unique Batman universe with the show ending at the time Bruce becomes his alter ego. Think Smallville. Unique universe.

              • Yeah, think Smallville. Think 10 years of increasingly mediocre episodes in the last few seasons, finally just to be handed a 2 hour series finale in the end I could have blown out of my own a$$. Woo Hoo!

  2. – I think the Penguin deserves his own movie. He is highly underrated and deserves this attention! I mean, he has about the same following as Wolverine. Why not? Personally, I think Penguin’s story would be far more interesting and the concept is almost to good to comprehend. So come on, spread this word and let’s give Penguin the recognition he deserves!

  3. I mean, come on, its either Penguin or a Jack Skellington epic. Take your pick. And for god’s sakes, no more catwoman or joker. :-/

    • no more joker we didn’t have enough of the joker he is the best villain in all his rogue gallery

  4. If true, I’d love them to use the broken bottle stuck in his eye from the Arkham games, that was a cool little addition to the character. Maybe this could show him before and immediately after that incident, leeching off his parents and setting up his own criminal business on the side before opening The Iceberg Lounge?

    • Agreed Arkham really made the penguin what he should be. They could show the penguin financially ruining Victor Zzasz in a game of cards which leads to zzasz going on a killing spree.Maybe the GCPD has a deal with the penguin that as long as he provides them with information on Gothams outlaws they’ll turn a blind eye on what he’s doing.Later on he could be up against the great whit shark, black mask, the falcone crime family and he starts losing control of his empire. There are so many things they could do with him if done correctly.

      • Yeah, he could easily be portrayed as a middle man for both sides, The Iceberg Lounge acting as a safe haven for criminals, the only part of Gotham where they’ll never be arrested (using the line “It’s bad for business” when explaining it) while also using his service staff to eavesdrop as they take drinks orders so he can feed the police whatever he wants to tell them to keep them off his own back.

        Maybe the whole Penguin thing was a codename in this continuity so they’d never trace the criminal activity back to Oswald? Turn him into Gotham’s version of Don Vito Corleone.

        So many ways you could use him and make him a serious threat.

    • I’m surprised people actually liked Arkham City’s Penguin. Arkham Asylum/City are great games, but I feel like they pushed the creepiness of certain characters a little too much (Penguin and Mad Hatter standing out the most, to me).

      Why would the Penguin have a glass bottle shoved in his eye? Really, why? His whole schtick is that he desperately wants to fit in with Gotham’s high class, which is why he walks around in an outdated monocle and top hat, because that’s how he perceives the high class. And even if it isn’t there by choice, surely he’d have it removed.

      (And while this isn’t as related, I hated his cockney british accent, too. A.) Cockney is low-class, Penguin wouldn’t speak like that. B.) He’s American.)

      • I wasn’t sold on the Cockney accent myself but if I remember correctly, someone was unhappy with The Penguin and thought he was cheated in a card game at The Iceberg Lounge and attacked Penguin with a broken bottle (may have been Zsasz or Joker, maybe someone else, haven’t played City in over a year to remember who did it). It wasn’t removed because he tried it and surgeons told him he’d die if they attempted it so he’s had to leave it in.

        The creepiness of Mad Hatter was cool though but they based it on A Serious House On Serious Earth from 1989 where Mad Hatter was described as a pedophile who routinely kidnapped blonde girls to act out his Alice In Wonderland fantasies. The Arkham games just continued that version of him.

  5. Cool. Looks like this show has a lot of promise and can give many characters in the “Batman” universe a lot of creative license.

    As for the DCCU, still hope Bryan Cranston gets to play Gordon rather than Luthor.

  6. I don’t see how this will work at all. but if it’s available here in England then I will probably watch it. A question how are we supposed to view batman? with all the interpretations which one is the correct version and the one we should be following? There’s three on-going series of batman 52 but which one is the official version and the justice league one? Has anyone played the Arkham games and are they worth getting?

    • The Arkham games are widely viewed as some of the best video games of the last decade so definitely get them.

      Asylum has a better atmosphere but City has a ton of references too. Origins is good too, even if they retcon some things from the official canon of the comics.

      As for “official version”, all three of the books you mentioned in the New 52 range are official, they continue from previous runs with the character and acknowledge that Dick Grayson was Batman when they thought Bruce was dead. They just show things from a different perspective and with different villains (Bane for example is only in The Dark Knight series, Man-Bat was only in Detective Comics line, Batman And… shows him teaming with a different person, like Red Hood, Nightwing, Red Robin etc).

      Basically, follow whichever series you’re most interested in if money is an issue because it can be expensive to buy all Batman series (Batman, Detective Comics, The Dark Knight, Batman And…, Batman/Superman, Justice League, not to mention other Bat-Family titles like Batwoman, Batwing and more).

      I think the show will be available in England. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Not sure who’d air it though but since Sky1 have Arrow and Channel 4 have Agents Of SHIELD, I can imagine FOX may air Gotham, unless Universal have it (if they have the room alongside Sleepy Hollow and Bates Motel, they may not afford it, who knows?).

    • Asylum and City are definitely worth getting…
      Origins… Not so much. I bought it, played for a few hours then I never touch it again until now because it’s just not that captivating like Asylum or City. If you’re a fan of the previous titles you will probably get it though, for fun sake.

  7. If this series is about the career of Commissioner Gordan, plus Bruce Wayne when he was a kid before he was Batman, I just cannot get excited about watching it, and will probably give it a pass. I will be more likely to be watching Hourman, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Flash…some of the other new stuff.

    • I guess it depends how big a Batman fan you are. If you’re a devoted Batfan, you’d watch it just because it ties into an iconic character and the city he protects but if you only care about his escapades as a masked vigilante, it would seem pretty pointless.

      Kinda like “Peter Parker: The Middle School Years”.

      • Batman is OK, but not a big Batfan to the nth degree myself. I would care more about it probably if it was about his crime-fighting years rather than the bat’s formative “Wonder Bread” years, which this seems to be–more biographical, with a side-order of Commissioner Gordan to go. At this point I would probably give this a pass, although as you say, if i were a big Batfan, I probably would watch it to see what kind of treatment Bruce Wayne’s background got. I have so many things I would rather watch on my docket now that will be coming up, I will likely be half-over-whelmed.

    • I’m with you on this… Yes, Gordon is a fine character, but I’m NOT that fan of him to watch his own show.

  8. I’m getting a javascript popup on iPad from Screenrant: ‘test’

    • Same with me on my laptop.

  9. I think this choice will be make or break on the series. Done well, they might have a hit. Done poorly and it will tank.

  10. So freakin cool!!! This is like the rare instance where you can have the villains without the main hero and it will still be cool to watch. Batman has the best villains ever!! I hope it is at least Arrow quality.

  11. Im thinking its gonna be how these villains evolved into their costumed selves. Of course you can’t really kill off most of these villains, more backstory and add on additional details yea. So Im expecting long story arcs for the main bat villains and smaller ones for the lesser guys (they can even incorporate them with the larger villains as well).

    Looking forward to this and Constantine. We may have a 2 year wait for the next DC movie but we’ll have 4 tv shows to help us kill time.

  12. One name: Philip Seymour Hoffman

    • He wouldn’t be doing a broadcast television show.

      • You never know. Paul Giamatti appeared in last year’s Downton Abbey Christmas special and TV shows are consistently bringing in the big name actors. Given the right project, I reckon he’d be game.

        Not as Penguin though. I don’t think I’d want to see that.

  13. Would be cool if this show was connected to Arrow during the 5 island years. Maybe a news clip in Gotham or someone in Arrow talking about what happened on Gotham.

  14. But is it villain for one episode or whole season ?
    I would loved so much if show actually follows more than 1 character like penguin ,Gordon,Catwoman,Nightwing,young bruce wayne and than we could see how each character influence another and how their paths are crossed but not always (like GoT of gotham)

  15. Batman without Batman in it? Not too sure about that, wasn’t a fan of Smallville and Arrow is cheesier than a pizza in France!! The Penguin may work witht eh ideas above, him supplying arms to the police force for a discount and immunity…. I like the idea of Zsasz but his killing spree was when Bruce Wayne was not a kid and they are of a similar age…. Hope they dont give Joker any screen time, he is top draw and having no origin or back story makes Joker what he is…. This will probably centre on Bruce Waynes father and the foundation, mobsters, mad hatter, Freeze (prior to the accident), Calender man, LEague of shadows, Ras Al Ghoul etc…

    • This is about Gotham so pre Batman so, yeah, there is no Batman. Yes, Smallville could be cheesy but it was created as a show for teens so, yeah, it was cheesy. Arrow is a step above Smallville but is still too sparkly and clean and….well…kinda cheesy. The only reason I have some hope for this is its FOX and not the CW.

  16. Im glad they are using the Penguin in the 1st episode. i dont think they should save anyone they should use all the Dc rogues gallery. thats what people want to see. I want to see other villains origins also the Riddler,The Black mask, Clayface, Young Hugo Strange, Hush,Killer Croc,The Reaper, The Mad hatter, Solomon Grundy, and Ra’s al Ghul.

    I just hope they dive into the mythology.

    • Should Grundy’s origin be significantly different to the one displayed on Arrow? Or would you wish for Gotham to delve into the fantastical by introducing a swamp zombie? I’m not being facetious in any way, just curious.

  17. Hopefully FOX will deliver with this series. It has great potential but like anything these days the stories have to be right. To some this will be “Batman without Batman”. Almost like a series based of super heroes that doesn’t have any super heroes (Agents of SHIELD). This will need to have a good solid pilot episode to ever get any legs.