The Batman is rumored to feature the villainous pairing of Penguin and Catwoman, but that may not be the best move for a reinvention of the character. For a long time, the status of Matt Reeves' The Batman was unclear, with huge question marks hanging over Ben Affleck's involvement and how they film would ultimately tie into the DCEU series. Now, the project is now beginning to take shape, with Robert Pattinson cast as the Caped Crusader and a release date set for 2021.
Many would argue that the success of any superhero movie rests upon its choice of villains, and with The Batman's lead actor set, speculation now turns to potential opponents for Pattinson's Batman to face in his forthcoming big screen debut. Two of the most prominent names currently doing the rounds are Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot, known to their enemies as Catwoman and Penguin.
These two fiendish criminals have appeared in the Batman movies before, both featuring in 1992's Batman Returns, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito, respectively. Catwoman would go on to make another cinematic appeared in The Dark Knight Rises, played by Anne Hathaway. Of course, it's nigh-on impossible for modern Batman films to avoid reusing characters that have appeared on the big screen previously, and if such a restrictive rule was adhered to, fans would never have been graced with Heath Ledger's iconic performance as The Joker, since Jack Nicholson had already played the villain in 1989's Batman.
That said, The Batman should perhaps try to avoid using a combination of villains that has already been utilized previously; featuring Penguin and Catwoman as prime antagonists once again is a move that could backfire. This is because a major element of any given Batman movie is seeing how certain villains interact with each other and with so many different combinations to choose from, it seems redundant to revisit a pairing that has not only been done before, but has been done effectively.
Batman movies reuse certain villains out of necessity - there's only so many major villains to go around after all - but each interpretation of a character strives to be unique from previous incarnations. Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face in Batman Forever and Aaron Eckhart's Two-Face in The Dark Knight, for example, couldn't be more different. But when it comes to villain pairings, there are so many as-yet-untouched options still on the table. For those fans familiar with Tim Burton's contribution to the franchise, revisiting the tried-and-tested Catwoman and Penguin formula could make The Batman feel less fresh and less exciting, even if the duo have a completely different relationship to that seen in Batman Returns.
Such a lineup would also invite immediate comparisons between The Batman and Batman Returns. The new Catwoman and Penguin, as well as the dynamic between them, would naturally be measured against the standard set by Pfeiffer and DeVito and after the tepid response to Bruce Wayne's previous two cinematic adventures, comparisons are, frankly, the last thing The Batman needs, as it attempts a degree of course correction on the character.
It is, however, also important to note that there are also rumors suggesting that while Catwoman and Penguin will feature in The Batman, this will be as part of a wider Rogues Gallery, with a bundle of other troublemakers joining in the fun. This would certainly be a far more attractive option. Many of Batman's greatest comic stories have featured an array of villains, as opposed to just two or three, but this setup has never been attempted on film. A Rogues Gallery of antagonists would not only give The Batman a completely original approach, but it would also negate any concerns of retreading old ground, even if both Catwoman and The Penguin were involved.
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