Danny DeVito has no problem with Matt Reeves’s choice (Colin Farrell) to play the Penguin. In fact, he’s best buds with him.
While many have questioned the logic of casting Colin Farrell as the umbrella-wielding Penguin in the upcoming film The Batman, DeVito – who portrayed the character in 1992’s Batman Returns – offers complete praise.
“Colin’s a great actor, ” DeVito had said recently during an interview. “He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for many years and I think he’s going to do a great job as The Penguin. It’s going to be really interesting seeing his take on it.”
Farrell was cast as the Penguin after fan favorite actor Jonah Hill, left negotiations due to creative differences. Farrell’s addition to the already diverse cast increases the uniqueness of this Batman film project.
Who Is The Penguin?
Batman co-creator Bob Kane brought the Penguin to life in a 1941 issue of Detective Comics. Since his introduction, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot has evolved from obvious comic relief to a truly formidable presence and adversary of The Dark Knight. A bullied-child-turned-crime-lord, his personality has been that of bureaucracy gone wrong. A brilliant criminal mastermind, Penguin is always characterized by his short stature, large nose, tuxedo, monocle, trick umbrellas, and fondness for birds. The latter two were later explained as derived from his childhood; his overprotective mother always forced him to carry an umbrella to school and he trained pigeons as a meditation. His umbrellas carry anything from a personal helicopter to concealed machine gun.
Almost mirroring Marvel Comics’ Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, he also hides in plain sight as a legitimate club owner. In reality, The Iceberg Lounge is a front for his criminal activities. His resources and are so vast that Batman actually allows him to remain in play, but as long as he also remains a reliable informant without question. His super-villain gang affiliations include The Injustice Gang and The Suicide Squad.
Danny DeVito And His Flock
Colin Farrell is the fourth actor to portray The Penguin in a live-action project. He was originally brought to life by the late Burgess Meredith in the 1966 Batman series. Aside from the trick umbrella arsenal and top hat, Meredith offered character traits such as a waddle and a quack in his dialogue in place of a laugh. Such character traits were later added to the comics. Where Meredith captured the comic book counterpart, DeVito’s Penguin took the character in a darker direction in Batman Returns.
By way of prosthetics and a fat suit, DeVito’s Penguin was a physically deformed outcast living in the penguin dwelling of the Gotham Zoo with a criminal circus gang. Director Tim Burton gave Oswald Cobblepot an added dimension. His master plan was to kill all firstborn children of Gotham stemming from rage over his own abandonment because of his deformity. More animal than human in behavior – he was first raised by actual Emperor Penguins. DeVito’s Penguin got away with everything from biting a man’s nose off to lusting lasciviously after Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman. The striking design of his Penguin has made its way into numerous animated and video game incarnations.
He was again reinvented by Robin Lord Taylor in the Batman prequel series, Gotham. But this was a bird of a different feather. Through the course of five years, this thinner version of Oswald gradually transformed. Going from a simple-but-brilliant underling of Fish Mooney with a psychopathic streak to a formidable crime lord. A mix of DeVito and Meredith, Taylor’s Penguin went into murderous rages. At one point he was even crippled in one leg by Mooney, leaving him with a permanent limp.
Even the name “Penguin” was thrust on him for the illusion the limp and his choice of formal wear gave him. This taunt at first was the trigger for his rages, but gradually he began to embrace it the darker he became. The writers continuously added dimension, such as making him the breadwinner of his home, and later even made him LGBT. He developed romantic feelings for an uninterested Edward Nygma/Riddler, upon whom he settled for a frenemy instead. The ten year time jump in the series finale saw him the spitting image of his comic counterpart after fattening up in Blackgate Prison.
One can only wonder how Colin Farrell will approach the Penguin.
Farrell joins Robert Pattison as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner James Gordon, Paul Dano as Riddler, and Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth. There is no release date yet for The Batman.