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

The Penguin in Batman Arkham City

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:

FREE DC SCOOP! Wanna know 1st batvillain that will appear on GOTHAM? A guy named OSWALD (20s) aka THE PENGUIN which is currently casting. RT

— elmayimbe (@elmayimbe) January 26, 2014

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

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

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