Penguin (comics)

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Penguin
The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot
Art by Brian Bolland
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #58 (December 1941)
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
In-story information
Full name Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot
Team affiliations Injustice League
Iceberg Lounge
Suicide Squad
The Society
Super Foes
Abilities Genius-level intellect
Assorted bird-related paraphernalia
Deadly trick umbrellas
Vast underworld connections
Organizational leadership
Surprising physical strength
Knowledge of judo and boxing

The Penguin is a fictional character, a supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. He is known as one of Batman's oldest and most persistent enemies. Artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger introduced him in Detective Comics #58 (December 1941). The Penguin is a short, round man known for his love of birds and his specialized high-tech umbrellas. A mobster and thief, he fancies himself as being a "gentleman of crime;" his nightclub business provides a cover for criminal activity, which Batman sometimes uses as a source of criminal underworld information. According to Kane the character was inspired from the then advertising mascot of Kool cigarettes – a penguin with a top hat and cane. Finger thought the image of high-society gentlemen in tuxedos was reminiscent of emperor penguins.[1]

Burgess Meredith portrayed the Penguin in the 1960s Batman television series and its movie. Danny DeVito played a darker, more grotesque version in the 1992 film Batman Returns. Subsequent Batman animated series featured him in depictions that alternated between deformed outcast and high-profile aristocrat. The former interpretation appeared in comics, most notably in the miniseries Batman: The Long Halloween and its sequel Dark Victory. He made a cameo appearance at the end of the Long Halloween with no lines. He had a slightly more notable role in Dark Victory – this incarnation included elements of Meredith's interpretation. Paradoxically, the Penguin has repeatedly been named among the worst[2][3] and best[4][5] of Batman's villains.

Unlike most of Batman's rogues gallery, the Penguin is in control of his actions and perfectly sane, features that help him maintain a unique relationship with the crime-fighter. His latest characterization has him running a nightclub that is popular with the underworld. Batman comes to tolerate his operations so long as the Penguin remains one of his informants. The entrepreneurial Penguin often fences stolen property or arranges early prison furloughs – for a hefty fee, of course.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Born Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot,[6] the Penguin was bullied as a child for his short stature, weight, and beak-like nose. In some media, his fingers are fused, resulting in flipper-like hands. Several stories relate that he was forced as a child to always carry an umbrella by his overprotective mother due to his father's death from pneumonia after a drenching. His mother owns pet birds that Cobblepot lavishes with attention, and served as his only friends growing up. His love for birds would eventually lead him to obtaining an Ornithology major in college. In some versions, Cobblepot turns to crime after his mother dies and the birds are repossessed to pay his mother's debts; in others, he is an outcast in his high society family and their rejection drives him to become a criminal. In keeping with his origins, the Penguin pursues his criminal career with class. He prefers formal wear such as a top hat, monocle, and tuxedo while he steals.

The Penguin's alias first came from a childhood taunt over his grotesque appearance and love of birds.[7] In an early account, when Cobblepot first attempted to join a gang, he was belittled as a "penguin" and mocked for his umbrella before being literally kicked from the crime den. Outraged at the rejection, he resolved to make "the Penguin" a name to fear and the umbrella a fearsome weapon. He returned to the den and killed the crime boss with "the world's first .45 caliber umbrella," then claimed leadership of the now-terrified criminals. Some later stories suggest that he tried to abandon the nickname, which he initially hated but came to accept.

Pre-Crisis[edit]

Originally known only by his alias, the Penguin first appeared in Gotham City as a skilled thief, sneaking a priceless painting out of the museum by hiding the rolled-up canvas in the handle of his umbrella. The Penguin later used the canvas as proof of his intellect to a local mob, which he was then allowed to join. With the Penguin's help, the mob pulled off a string of ingenious heists, but the mob's leader and the "be-monocled bird" eventually fell out, leading Cobblepot to kill him with his umbrella gun. The Penguin became leader of the mob and attempted to neutralize Batman by framing him for theft. The Penguin's plans were eventually thwarted, but the bandit himself escaped.[8]

The Penguin was a persistent nemesis for the Dynamic Duo (Batman and Robin) throughout the Golden and Silver Ages, pulling off ploy after ploy, such as teaming up with The Joker,[9] attempting to extort money from a shipping company by pretending to flash-freeze a member of its board of directors,[10] and participating in Hugo Strange's auction of Batman's secret identity.[11]

The Penguin made his last appearance, fittingly, during the last appearance of the Earth-One Batman. After he and a multitude of Batman's enemies are broken out of Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison by Ra's al Ghul, the Penguin carries out Ra's' plans to kidnap Batman's friends and allies. The Penguin, along with the Joker, the Mad Hatter, Cavalier, Deadshot and Killer Moth, lay siege to Gotham City Police Headquarters, but are infuriated when the Joker sabotages their attempt at holding Commissioner Gordon for ransom. A standoff ensued, with the Joker on one side and the Penguin and the Mad Hatter on the other. The Joker quickly subdues both with a burst of laughing gas from one of his many gadgets.[12]

Post-Crisis[edit]

Following the Crisis rebooting the history of the DC Universe, the Penguin was relegated to cameo appearances, until writer Alan Grant (who had earlier penned the Penguin-origin story "The Killing Peck") and artist Norm Breyfogle brought him back, deadlier than ever. Within the era of the Tim Drake Robin, the Penguin forms a brief partnership with macabre criminal and hypnotist Mortimer Kadaver, who helps him fake his own death as a ploy to strike an unsuspecting Gotham. The Penguin later guns down Kadaver, after plugging his own ears with toilet paper so that the hypnotist no longer has power over him.[13]

After Batman foils this particular endeavor, the Penguin embarks on one of his grandest schemes in the three-part story "The Penguin Affair." After finding Harold Allnut on a lonely street, undergoing physical and verbal abuse by two gang members, the Penguin takes the technologically-gifted hunchback in, showing him kindness in exchange for services. Harold builds a gadget that allowed the Penguin to control flocks of birds from miles away, which the Penguin utilized to destroy radio communications in Gotham and crash a passenger plane. This endeavor, too, was foiled by Batman. Batman finally hired Harold as his mechanic.

The Penguin resurfaces during Jean Paul Valley's tenure as Batman as one of the few to deduce that Valley is not the original Caped Crusader. To confirm this theory, he kidnaps Sarah Essen Gordon, places her in a death-trap set to go off at midnight, and turns himself in, utilizing the opportunity to mock Commissioner Gordon as midnight approached. An increasingly infuriated Gordon is nearly driven to throw him off the police headquarters roof before Valley shows up in the nick of time with a rescued Sarah. As Valley left, he commented, "There's nothing the Penguin can throw at me that I haven't encountered before." The Penguin reluctantly agrees with this sentiment, accepting that he has become passé.[14]

Subsequently, the Penguin turned his attentions to a new modus operandi, operating under the front of a legitimate restaurant and casino known as the Iceberg Lounge.[15] Though he is arrested for criminal activities several times during the course of his "reform", he always manages to secure a release from prison thanks to his high-priced lawyers.

During the storyline "No Man's Land," when Gotham City is nearly leveled by an earthquake, the Penguin stays behind when the US government closes down and blockades the city. He becomes one of the major players in the lawless city, using his connections to profit by trading the money that nobody else in Gotham could use for goods through his outer-Gotham contacts. One of these connections is discovered to be Lex Luthor and his company, LexCorp.

The Penguin, as seen in Batman #287 (May 1977). Art by Mike Grell.

The Penguin is swept up in the events of Infinite Crisis. In the limited series' seventh issue, he is briefly seen as part of the Battle of Metropolis, a multi-character brawl started by the Secret Society of Super Villains. The Penguin, along with several other villains, is bowled over at the surprise appearance of Bart Allen.

One Year Later, while the Penguin is away from Gotham City, the Great White Shark and Tally Man kill many of the villains who had worked for him, and frame the reformed Harvey Dent. Great White had planned to take over Gotham's criminal syndicate and eliminate the competition, the Penguin included. Upon his return to Gotham, the Penguin continues to claim that he has gone straight, and reopens the Iceberg, selling overpriced Penguin merchandise. He urges the Riddler to avoid crime, as their non-criminal lifestyle is more lucrative.

The Penguin was featured as a prominent figure in the new Gotham Underground tie-in to the series Countdown. He fights a gang war against Tobias Whale and Intergang while supposedly running an "underground railroad" for criminals. As the Penguin conducts his affairs, Two-Face enters the club and demands to be let in on his underground railroad project. The Penguin tells him to meet him after hours and subsequently brings him into a meeting with several of Gotham's most notorious villains, including Hugo Strange, Scarecrow, and Mad Hatter. Batman, in the disguise of Matches Malone, spies on the meeting from behind a darkened alcove. Suddenly, the Suicide Squad bursts into the room and attacks the assemblage of villains.[16] It is revealed that the Penguin is involved with the Suicide Squad, and that he had set up the other villains to gain the favor of the Squad.[17] The Penguin later meets up with Tobias Whale in order to negotiate with him.[18] The Penguin and Spoiler had assembled gangs like the Bat Killers, who were based on Batman's enemies; the Dead End Boys, based on the Suicide Squad; the Femme Fatales, based on female villains; the Five Points Gang, based on the Fearsome Five; the L.O.D., based on the Legion of Doom to which the Penguin himself had once belonged; and the New Rogues, based on the Rogues.[19] The Penguin and Tobias Whale fight each other as Robin, the Huntress, Batgirl, and the fourth Wildcat all get involved. Even though the Penguin gets the upper hand, Whale reluctantly calls a truce with him to stop Johnny Stitches and Intergang.[20] Johnny Stitches sends the Penguin a package containing the Riddler's glasses and Mr. Jessup's dismembered body. Johnny tells the Penguin that Tobias Whale was not on his side any longer. Johnny also mentions that he had threatened the families of those fighting on the Penguin's side, and that he is giving him one day to get out of town.[21] The Intergang then attacks the Iceberg Lounge, only to be foiled by Batman. In return for his help, Batman makes the Penguin become his informant.[22]

Cobblepot later loses Batman's support after the latter's mysterious disappearance and Intergang's exploitation of the return of the Apokoliptan Gods. He appears in Battle for the Cowl: The Underground, which portrays the effects of Batman's disappearance on his enemies.

The Penguin's mob is absorbed by Black Mask II, who controls his criminal activities. The Penguin, with the aid of the Mad Hatter, abducts Batman and brainwashes him to assassinate Black Mask.

During the events of Brightest Day, the Birds of Prey discover the Penguin beaten and stabbed at the feet of the White Canary.[23] The Birds rescue him and flee to the Iceberg. While recovering, the Penguin expresses his attraction to Dove.[24] Eventually, the Penguin reveals that his injury had been a ruse, and that he is working with the White Canary in exchange for valuable computer files on the superhero community. He betrays the Birds and seriously injures both Lady Blackhawk and Hawk before the Huntress defeats him.[25] The Huntress tapes him up with the intention of taking him with her, only to be informed by Oracle that she has to let him go due to a police manhunt for the Birds. The Huntress considers killing him with her crossbow, but ultimately leaves him bound and gagged in an alley with the promise that she would exact her vengeance on him later.[26]

The Penguin is eventually attacked by the Secret Six, who kill many of his guards in an ambush at his mansion. Bane informs him that he needs information on Batman's partners, as he plans on killing Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, and Azrael.[27] The Penguin soon betrays the team's location, which results in the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Birds of Prey, the Justice Society, and various other heroes hunting down and capturing the criminals.[28]

Around this time, a new super-villain, who called himself the Architect, plants a bomb in the Iceberg Lounge as revenge for crimes committed by the Penguin's ancestor. Though Blackbat and Robin are able to evacuate the building, the Lounge is destroyed in the ensuing explosion.[29]

The New 52[edit]

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), the Penguin is a client of a criminal named Raju who was sent to offer gold to Dollmaker for Batman's release.[30] While in his Iceberg Casino, the Penguin views a disguised Charlotte Rivers on his surveillance cameras and he tells his henchwoman Lark to make sure Rivers gets "a story to die for".[31] During the Death of the Family crossover, the Penguin puts his right-hand man, Ignatius Ogilvy, in charge of his operations in his temporary absence. Ogilvy, however, uses the Penguin's absence to declare him dead, taking over his gang and killing those loyal to him. Under the alias of Emperor Penguin,[32] Ogilvy takes over the Penguin's operations. Upon the Joker's defeat, Batman unsuccessfully attempts to imprison the Penguin in Blackgate Penitentiary only to be forced to release him later. Upon learning of Ogilvy's betrayal, the Penguin attacks his former henchman's new empire, but Batman intervenes and arrests him. The Penguin is found not guilty, however, thanks to the machinations of his ally Mr. Combustible. Meanwhile, Ogilvy releases Kirk Langstrom's Man-Bat serum on Gotham City, turning many of the citizens into the creatures. Langstrom discovers a cure, returning the citizens to normal. Ogilvy then takes the serum himself, along with additions made by Poison Ivy. Emperor Penguin then challenges Batman openly to a fight, defeating the masked vigilante with his newfound prowess, and leaving him to be rescued by the Penguin. The pair forge a temporary alliance, and defeat Ogilvy.

During the Forever Evil storyline, Penguin is among the villains recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[33] With the heroes gone, Penguin becomes the Mayor of Gotham City and divides the different territories amongst the inmates of Arkham Asylum.[34]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Penguin is a master criminal and occasional engineer who uses his genius-level intellect to gain money and power through criminal means. Penguin's wealth gives him accessibility to better resources than most other Batman villains and his life as a millionaire gives him superior knowledge of the backgrounds of celebrities and politicians, especially those he plans to target in his future crimes. He is also capable of returning to his luxurious lifestyle very easily despite his violent criminal history and prison record. He has even attempted multiple times to enter the political world, even launching expensive election campaigns. The Penguin also has strong connections with other criminal kingpins across Gotham, allowing him to hire their assassins and workers or to spy on them easily. The Penguin relies on cunning, wit, and intimidation to exploit his surroundings for profit. Penguin is normally depicted as being more rational and sane than other Batman villains, at least relatively speaking.

Although he often delegates the dirty work to his henchmen, he is not above taking aggressive and lethal actions on his own, especially when provoked. In spite of his appearance, he is a dangerous hand-to-hand combatant with enough self-taught skills in judo and bare-knuckle boxing to overwhelm attackers many times his size and physical bearing. The Penguin is usually portrayed as a capable physical combatant when he feels the situation calls for it, but his level of skill varies widely depending on the author; the character has been written both as a physical match for Batman and as someone the masked vigilante is capable of defeating with a solid punch. His crimes often revolve around stealing valuable bird-related items, and his car and other vehicles often have an avian theme.

The Penguin always carries umbrellas, which usually contain weapons such as machine guns, sword tips, missiles, lasers, flamethrowers, and acid or poison gas spraying devices fired from the ferrule (however Penguin is able to weaponize his umbrellas in an almost unlimited variety of ways). Depending on the writer, some of his umbrellas can carry multiple weapons at once. He often carries an umbrella that can transform its canopy into a series of spinning blades: this can be used as a miniature helicopter or as an offensive weapon; he often uses this to escape a threatening situation. The canopy of the umbrella is sometimes depicted as being a bulletproof shield, and some are patterned in different ways from a spiral capable of hypnotizing opponents to flashy signs.

Other versions[edit]

Joker[edit]

The Penguin (referred to mockingly as "Abner"[35] by the Joker) appeared in Joker, a graphic novel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. This incarnation operates the Iceberg Lounge, handles most of Joker's personal investments, and deals with revenues from boxing matches.

Elseworlds[edit]

In the Elseworlds story Batman: Crimson Mist, the third part in a trilogy that turned Batman into a vampire, the Penguin is the first of many criminals to be killed by the vampiric Batman after he surrenders to his darker instincts. Batman brutally tears the Penguin's throat out as he drinks his blood and subsequently decapitates his enemy to ensure that he cannot return as a vampire.

In The Doom That Came To Gotham, an Elseworlds setting based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Oswald Cobblepot is the leader of an expedition to Antarctica of which there is only one survivor. The rescue team finds no trace of him, but its revealed to the reader that the now half-mad Cobblepot has abandoned his humanity, and joined the albino penguins of the Elder Things city.

Flashpoint[edit]

In the alternate timeline of Flashpoint, Oswald Cobblepot works as the security chief of Wayne Casinos, providing information about his clients and the criminal underworld to that universe's Batman, Thomas Wayne.[36]

Earth One[edit]

In Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Oswald Cobblepot is the corrupt mayor of Gotham City. He attempts to have Thomas Wayne, the opposing mayoral candidate, killed, but his plan fails. Wayne, along with his wife, are instead killed in a random mugging on election night. Cobblepot runs Gotham with an iron fist, controlling all the power centers of the city and using a hired killer named "Birthday Boy". He almost kills Batman with his umbrella (which conceals a blade) once he discovers Batman's secret identity, but Alfred Pennyworth shoots and kills him just in time. It is also implied that Cobblepot had James Gordon's wife murdered when the detective got too close to finding out Cobblepot's involvement with the Waynes' murder. He tries to do the same thing to Gordon's daughter Barbara by "sending" her to Birthday Boy, but she is saved by Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Bullock.[37]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Burgess Meredith as the Penguin as he was seen in Batman.

Live Action[edit]

  • The Penguin is one of the main villains in the 1960s Batman television series, in which he was portrayed by Burgess Meredith. Meredith's performance is perhaps best remembered for his signature laugh, meant to mimic the squawk of a penguin. (One cause of the laugh was the cigarettes the character always smoked, which irritated Meredith's throat as he was a non smoker.) His thugs wear black bowler hats and dark clothing adorned with names of various animals of prey, such as birds ("Hawk") or fish ("Shark"), or sometimes simply "Henchman". His prison cell is in the "Supervillains" section next to that of Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Egghead and King Tut. In one episode, he claims to have been an actor. In the theatrical film spin-off, he commands a nuclear submarine painted to resemble a penguin. However, his given name, Oswald Cobblepot, was never used in this series or the film.
  • Burgess Meredith made a brief cameo appearance as the Penguin in the 1968 episode of The Monkees titled "Monkees Blow Their Minds".
  • Robin Lord Taylor plays a young Oswald Cobblepot in the TV series Gotham. This version of the character is a small-time criminal working for mobster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). His last name appears to be an Anglicization of the name "Kapelput."[38] In the pilot episode, Cobblepot snitches on Mooney to the Gotham City Police Department; she finds out and tries to kill him, in the process hobbling him and giving him his distinctive "penguin walk".[39] Carmine Falcone (John Doman), Mooney's boss, orders Detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to dispose of the traitor. Gordon tricks Bullock by pretending to kill Cobblepot, who drops into the river. He resurfaces once the cops are gone, however, and sets out to create his own criminal empire. In "Selina Kyle", he hitches a ride with two college students; he kills one and kidnaps the other, holding him for ransom. In "The Balloonman," he gets a job at Mafia Don Sal Maroni's restaurant. In "Arkham", Gordon reluctantly takes Cobblepot on as an informant when he tells Gordon about an upcoming mafia war involving Arkham Asylum, and gives him information that helps him thwart an assassination attempt on Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind). Cobblepot hires a gang of thugs to rob the mob's restaurant so he can save the money being counted there and endear himself to Maroni. Sure enough, Maroni promotes him to restaurant manager after the original restaurant manager is killed during the robbery. Cobblepot later visits the thugs he hired and kills them with poisoned cannoli. In "Viper," Cobblepot overhears Maroni's plans to attack Falcone's casino. He tells Maroni that he knows the janitor there that might use be of help to them. He later tells Maroni his real name and that he used to work for Mooney. Maroni then pins his head to the table. Maroni has Gordon brought to his restaurant and demands confirmation of Cobblepot's story. Gordon tells Maroni that he faked Cobblepot's death to fool Falcone, Mooney, and the Gotham City Police Department. Maroni spares Cobblepot's life and takes him up on his offer to help rob the casino.

Animation[edit]

Penguin, as seen in Batman: The Animated Series
  • Along with Joker, Penguin was one of the villains appearing in episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies - "The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair" and "The Caped Crusader Caper" - that were later combined on the DVD Scooby-Doo Meets Batman. He was once again voiced by Ted Knight.
  • In Filmation's series The New Adventures of Batman, Penguin is voiced by Lennie Weinrib. He frequently rolls his 'r's and laughs in a manner similar to Burgess Meredith's portrayal. He appears in "Reading, Writing and Wronging," "Birds of a Feather Fool Around Together" and "Have an Evil Day" Pt. 1, and "Have an Evil Day" Pt. 2.
  • When Batman: The Animated Series debuted in 1992, Penguin was voiced by Academy Award-winner Paul Williams. This version of the character featured the film version's physical deformities, such as flippers and a beak-like nose, but he retained the traditional refined mannerisms and personality of his comics counterpart. His most prominent appearances include the episodes "I've Got Batman in My Basement", "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne", "Almost Got 'Im", "The Mechanic", "Birds of a Feather", "Blind as a Bat", and "Second Chance". He is the only villain in the series, other than the Joker, not to be given an origin story.
  • Paul Williams reprised his role as Penguin in the 1997 follow-up to the original animated series, The New Batman Adventures. In this series, the character appeared more like his traditional comic book portrayal. His role was also similar to that in the comic books: a "legitimate" businessman and mob boss who runs a night club called the "Iceberg Lounge". He appears in "Joker's Millions", "The Ultimate Thrill", "Girl's Night Out", and "Judgment Day".
  • While the Penguin does not appear in Justice League Unlimited, his club, the Iceberg Lounge, makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of the episode "This Little Piggy".
  • The character appeared in The Batman, voiced by Tom Kenny. In this continuity, Penguin is primarily concerned with re-establishing the Cobblepot family name in society by stealing from the citizens of Gotham to rebuild his wealth. While he shares the comic incarnation's love for birds and aristocratic look, this Penguin retained a deformed appearance more similar to the Batman Returns incarnation, with orange hair instead of black and sharp, pointy teeth and fused fingers. When captured, he is placed in Arkham Asylum instead of Gotham State Penitentiary. He is sometimes aided by two henchwomen, a masked pair called the Kabuki Twins. In addition, he knows martial arts and is athletic enough to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Batman, dodging and parrying with his various trick umbrellas. He holds a grudge against Alfred Pennyworth because the Pennyworths left the service of the Cobblepots generations before. Unused concept art from the show indicates that a more classic version of Penguin was considered for the show.[40]
  • The Penguin is featured in Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Stephen Root. In "Legends of the Dark Mite!", he appears in Bat-Mite's fantasy. In "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!", Batman ends up dealing with the Penguin's crime spree. When Batman is captured and placed in a deadly drinking bird trap, Aquaman comes to his rescue and gets shocked by the Penguin, who reveals that his umbrella drones will spread a paralytic gas over Gotham City. Aquaman manages to make contact with some crabs to free the family as the Penguin sics his minions on Batman and the Aquaman family. Batman redirects the umbrella drones into the ocean and then pursues the Penguin. Upon catching up to him at his submarine, Batman manages to jam the Penguin's umbrella with his cape and defeat him. He then cameos in "Chill of the Night!" as one of the villains at a weapons auction held by Joe Chill. The Penguin has a quick cameo in the teaser for "The Last Patrol!" and also appears in "Night of the Batmen!" fighting Aquaman in a Batman costume, only to be defeated later on.
  • The Penguin is referred to twice in Beware the Batman. In "Animal", Harvey Dent and his Special Crime Unit are looking at a sketch of the Penguin, with Dent wondering if he just looks like a penguin or actually is one. In "Epitaph", a news report ticker desplays the headline "Oswald Cobblepot identified as the 'Penguin Man'".

Film[edit]

  • Burgess Meredith reprised his role as the Penguin in the 1966 film Batman alongside several other villains from the television show.
Movie poster for Batman Returns (1992) featuring Danny DeVito as the Penguin.
  • Danny Devito portrayed The Penguin as the main antagonist in Batman Returns. Director Tim Burton, inspired by the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, re-imagined the character not as an eloquent gentleman of crime, but a former freak show performer with a homicidal grudge against the aristocrats of Gotham City. Soon after his birth, his aristocratic parents, Tucker and Esther Cobblepot, threw him in the sewers to die. However, he survived and was raised by penguins. In the film, he runs for Mayor of Gotham City with the help of corrupt businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) while planning to kill the first-born sons of Gotham's elite. He and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) frame Batman for murder, but Batman still foils Penguin's scheme. The Penguin tries to destroy Gotham City, but is killed during the climactic duel with Batman. While this Penguin retained many trademarks, such as a variety of trick umbrellas and the use of a monocle, he was given a dramatic visual makeover. Where the comic version varies between a balding head of short cropped hair and varying degrees of thinning, this Penguin is still bald at the top but with his remaining length of hair long and stringy. His hands are flippers with a thumb and index finger, and the remaining three fingers fused. An unidentified thick, dark green bile-like liquid or blood sometimes trickles from his nose and mouth. Instead of a tuxedo, he wears a more gothic, Victorian-style outfit with a jabot as opposed to a bow tie. In certain scenes, he also wears black boots, a dickey, and a union suit. However, Burton's design maintained the top hat seen in the comics along with a monocle and a cigarette in some scenes. He also has penguin-like appetites, as shown in a scene where Shreck lures him out of his room with what appears to be a raw fish.
  • He appears in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman as the main antagonist, this time voiced by David Ogden Stiers. The plot involves the Penguin, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne in an illegal arms deal with the President of Kasnia. Of the three Batwomen, the Penguin shares a personal history with Dr. Roxanne Ballantine; he framed her fiancée Kevin years before, which led him into prison in order to find evidence that would get his sentence commuted. When Batwoman proves to be more than he expected, he hires Bane to kill her. In the aftermath, he is arrested with Thorne and Duquesne.
  • Tom Kenny reprised his role of Penguin in the animated movie The Batman vs. Dracula. In the movie, after escaping from Arkham Asylum, he accidentally resurrects Count Dracula with his blood in the Gotham cemetery (while in search of buried treasure). Dracula then hypnotizes the Penguin to work for him. He is later released from the spell upon Dracula's death and accused of the vampire's crimes, and is thus returned to Arkham Asylum.
  • Penguin appears in Batman: Assault on Arkham again voiced by Nolan North. He is hired by Amanda Waller to give the Suicide Squad arms, equipment, and shelter in his Iceberg Lounge for the night prior to their mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and take out the Riddler. He appears to have worked with Deadshot before, and holds a grudge against the Joker and Harley Quinn for sinking a truck of his cigarettes.

Video games[edit]

  • At one point he was planned to appear as a boss in The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega CD, in which he would try to kidnap Summer Gleeson. The Penguin was cut from the game because it was tight on villains, but the storyboards for his animated cut-scene are displayed in Paul Dini's book, Batman Animated.
  • The Penguin is the chief villain of an online flash game, Batman: The Cobblebot Caper, which is modeled after The Batman animated series. His ultimate plan is to construct a giant mechanical phoenix which he intends to use as a war machine against Gotham City.
  • The Penguin appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame[41] voiced by Tom Kenny. He is one of the leaders of the Arkham breakout. His plan is to use mind-controlled penguins to wreak havok in Gotham. To this end, he employs the Catwoman, Bane, Killer Croc, and the Man-Bat. He has the ability to call out robotic penguins from under his top hat. He can use his umbrella both as a gliding apparatus and a rifle. Despite his comic book appearance he has some ideas and characteristics of Danny DeVito's Penguin (e.g. taking over Gotham with a penguin army, having a liking for raw fish, and working with Catwoman). Being a Lego game, he cannot be portrayed as fat, nor does he have his signature pointed nose.
  • The Penguin appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by David Jennison. Following Bane's defeat, a cut-scene features the Penguin stating his anger at the competition from the Falcone Crime Family, Bane, Two-Face, the Mad Hatter, Hush, Killer Croc, the Catwoman and the Joker due to all the chaos, but being a cunning crook, he plans on tricking them into wiping each other out and taking Gotham for himself. The players discover that a hacked kiosk contained a message from Two-Face describing the Penguin's smuggling operation in Gotham's old subway tunnels. The Penguin is served by Cryo Pengbots, Louie Sluggers, Machine Gun Tommies, Nickie Blades, Pengbots, Pyro Pengbots, Tammy Two Guns and a Pengbot Maximus.
  • While the Penguin is not featured as an actual character in Batman: Arkham Asylum, as a key character in Batman's universe he is repeatedly referenced. An asylum security guard notes that he had witnessed the attempted smuggling of sharpened umbrellas into Arkham on at least one occasion before, a reference to the character. Additionally, an Iceberg Lounge advertisement can be seen in the Intensive Treatment wards, while a collection of trick umbrellas and top hats (apparently confiscated from Penguin upon his admittance to the facility) may be observed on display in the old Arkham Mansion. He is also one of the villains whose name is listed on the party list.
  • The Penguin appears as one of the villains in Batman: Arkham City,[42] voiced by Nolan North in a Cockney accent.[43] The Penguin is redesigned without penguin-like mannerisms such as the waddle or the squawk-laugh, but retains his beaked nose and monocle (here depicted as the bottom of a glass bottle, said to have been shoved into his face by the friend of a young man that Penguin was torturing after cheating at cards). In this game, Penguin is also responsible for Victor Zsasz's descent into villainy, having cheated a young Zsasz out of his inheritance at a game of poker. He also wears what appears to be an electrolarynx strapped to or implanted in his neck. According to the Arkham City Stories included in the game, Cobblepot became trapped in the open-air prison perimeter of Arkham City after refusing to vacate his residence at the Iceberg Lounge (which was condemned as part of the new project). Cobblepot went on to establish himself as a warlord in the new criminal underworld, using the nearby museum to enshrine defeated enemies, vying with the Joker for control of Arkham City. At the start of the game he and his minions attack the just-incarcerated Bruce Wayne, only to have his hand broken by Wayne (which results in its being bandaged in such a fashion that it resembles the Batman Returns Penguin's flipper-hand). Despite his use of Mr. Freeze's freeze gun and the captive Solomon Grundy, Penguin is ultimately defeated by Batman. Mr. Freeze adds insult to injury by locking Cobblepot in the exhibit planned for Bruce Wayne, where he remains for the rest of the game.
  • The Penguin makes a cameo appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us sporting his Arkham City look. In the Arkham Asylum level, if one of the characters is thrown through the cell door on the right side of the second tier, they will be attacked by Two-Face, Killer Croc, Riddler, and Penguin before being punched by Croc into the next tier of the Arkham arena.
  • A younger version of the Penguin from Batman: Arkham City appears in Batman: Arkham Origins with Nolan North reprising his role. In the game, Penguin is credited as Gotham's number one weapons dealer, using a legal loophole by staying aboard his refitted cruise liner, The Final Offer, to evade the law, while his goons make deals with the other gangs in Gotham. He is first mentioned after Batman scans a smashed recon drone found during the Blackgate riot, revealing that Penguin had been using it to spy on who he thought was Black Mask, but was really a disguised Joker. After interrogating one of his dealers, Batman makes his way to Penguin's ship. After fighting his way through Penguin's thugs, his assistant Tracey, and Electrocutioner, Batman finds and interrogates Penguin for information about Black Mask. Penguin mentions a murder in Lacey Towers, but is unable to reveal more before Batman is attacked by Deathstroke. He does not appear afterwards, but is mentioned as the prime suspect in Black Mask's "murder". In the game, Penguin does not yet have the bottle in his eye from Arkham City meaning the accident will happen after Origins. In the DLC "Cold, Cold Heart", the Penguin's thugs are working with Mr. Freeze in his revenge mission against GothCorp CEO Ferris Boyle. Mr. Freeze had offered the Penguin weapons in exchange for his aid breaking into GothCorp, only for Penguin to attempt to betray Mr. Freeze into making him give them superior weapons, culminating in Freeze trapping Penguin in a vast block of ice while Batman leaves Penguin to shiver until the police arrive. During the credits of the "Cold, Cold Heart" DLC, it was mentioned in a news voiceover that Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Ferris Boyle have been arrested by the police.
  • The younger Penguin from Arkham Origins appears in the spin-off game Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate as one of the criminals released in the Breakout, having been imprisoned after the events of Cold, Cold Heart. Nolan North once again voices The Penguin. Along with the Joker and Black Mask, Penguin takes control of one of three buildings at Blackgate; Penguin takes control of the Cell Blocks, being able to control movement around the island. He recruits any inmates not loyal to the clown or Sionis; when Bronze Tiger saves a guard from being hanged by his men, Penguin forces him to fight guards to the death in his makeshift arena in the Exercise Yard. Batman later arrives and defeats Bronze Tiger, who injures Penguin with a gun. Followed all the way to the entrance to the Arkham Wing, Penguin is soundly defeated by Batman. Penguin later escapes thanks to a guard he bribed, and kills said guard to keep him quiet.
  • The Penguin is set to appear in Batman: Arkham Knight. He is portrayed as "grungier" and more like a mob boss, now with a shaved head. Due to the warmer weather, the Penguin is seen without his long coat.

Toys[edit]

The Lego version of the Penguin orders his penguins to attack the Batboat.
  • An 8" version of the Penguin was created by the Mego Corporation as part of their "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" line in 1974. Mego also released a 3 3/4" Penguin as a part of their Comic Action Heroes line in 1976.
  • The Lego Batman line includes one particular set, The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion, which features Penguin. He appears as a minifigure in the set, with short, unbending legs, the classic top hat and monocle and a purple pin-stripe suit, but lacks the familiar pointy nose. Penguin rides in a submarine reminiscent of the one in the 1960s TV series and is assisted by miniature penguin robots. The set also includes a depiction of the Batcave.
  • He also appears in the Batman Lego promotional video. He is the final villain to be caught (after Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and Joker).
  • The Penguin was featured in the 1980s Super Powers Collection toy-line, featuring various DC Comics villains and heroes. The Penguin's appearance was much like that of the time, with a blue coat and top-hat. Penguin had "umbrella action" where his legs could be squeezed together, triggering his arm (holding an umbrella) to move up and down. - (This figure sculpt was later used for the Batman Returns figure line, with a new black paint application).
  • There have been various toys of the Penguin for cartoon series, from the sophisticated aristocrat to the deformed outcast styles.
  • Recently the Penguin was made into a toy by Funko who made small 3.75" figures with large heads and also soft toy version of the Penguin. The Penguin figure looked much like he had in Burgess Meredith's style from the 1960s, along with the comic book look. The figure featured an umbrella accessory, but the plush did not.

Parodies[edit]

  • The Penguin appears in the Saturday Night Live segment "Superman's Funeral." When he makes his trademark "Penguin Cackle," Batman angrily tells him to stop laughing to which the Penguin replies, "I'm not laughing! This is also how I cry." In that appearance, the Penguin was portrayed by Robert Smigel.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Inside Plucky Duck," a cartoon called "Bat's All Folks" parodied the Penguin as Puffin who assisted Jackster (a donkey parody of Joker), Question Mark (a parody of Riddler), and Polecatwoman (a parody of Catwoman) in a plot to rub out Bat-Duck so that everyone would buy their T-shirts.
  • In Yin Yang Yo!, the villain called Puffin is a parody of the Penguin. His dressy appearance is based on the Penguin, although characters in the show stop talking before the connection is made and before lawsuits can be filed. Puffin is mentioned to have an advantage in the rain which has not been demonstrated.
  • Episode 24[44] of This American Life on Public Radio International, "20 Acts in 60 Minutes," contains a short story that supplies the Penguin with an alternate origin story. In this story, the Penguin and Mary Poppins are introduced at a dinner party by a friend who thinks that their ability to fly or float using umbrellas will bring them together. Unfortunately, the two have nothing in common, and Mary Poppins soon leaves with another guest, one who wears a conspicuous black cape.
  • The Penguin appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Drippy Pony," where he is voiced by Seth Green. In a segment that parodies the Penguin in the style of the popular documentary film March of the Penguins, it shows him drinking heavily and soliciting prostitutes. Tom Kane provides a narrative style similar to that of Morgan Freeman in the English-language version of March of the Penguins. He appears in another sketch from a later episode, in which his umbrella was accidentally switched with that of an old woman.
  • The Penguin is played by Patton Oswalt in a CollegeHumor skit, in which he and Commissioner Gordon tries to explain the concept of death to an oblivious Batman, who thinks that the henchman felled by the edged weapons merely go to "sleep".[45]

Politics[edit]

The character of the Penguin, particularly as portrayed by Burgess Meredith, has often been used as a theme to mock public figures that supposedly resemble him. Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, has made numerous references comparing former Vice President Dick Cheney with the Penguin, including a laugh similar to the one heard in the 1960s Batman series.[46] In a similar manner, Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, called Franklin D. Roosevelt a criminal and told his audience to "ask Batman" "if they don't believe him," showing a picture of Meredith as the Penguin next to one of the former President; Roosevelt and the Penguin are both pictured wearing a monocle and sporting a cigarette holder, suggesting a resemblance.[47] Cheney was mocked in a similar capacity on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, while The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson chose to imitate John McCain with Meredith's Penguin laugh.

In May 2006, a Republican-led PR firm, DCI Group, created a YouTube video satirizing Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. The video portrayed Gore as the Penguin using one of his trick umbrellas to hypnotize a flock of penguins into believing in the existence of global warming and climate change.[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Enemies List". Comics 101. January 14, 2004. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ Goldstein, Hilary (June 3, 2005). "IGN Best and Worst Batman villains". Au.comics.ign.com. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Top Tenz Lamest Batman villains". Toptenz.net. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Premiere Best and Worst Batman villains". Web.archive.org. 2008-12-10. Archived from the original on 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  5. ^ Penguin is number 51, IGN.
  6. ^ In the television series Gotham, his heavily-accented mother's name is Gertrud Kapelput, implying an immigrant background.
  7. ^ The Penguin's origin was first revealed in the digest publication Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #10 (March 1981), almost 40 years after the character was introduced.
  8. ^ Detective Comics#58
  9. ^ Batman #25
  10. ^ Detective Comics #99
  11. ^ Detective Comics #472
  12. ^ Batman #400
  13. ^ Detective Comics #610-611
  14. ^ Showcase '94 #7
  15. ^ Detective Comics #683
  16. ^ Gotham Underground #1
  17. ^ Gotham Underground #2
  18. ^ Gotham Underground #3
  19. ^ Gotham Underground #6
  20. ^ Gotham Underground #7
  21. ^ Gotham Underground #8
  22. ^ Gotham Underground #9
  23. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #1
  24. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #2-3
  25. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #4
  26. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #5
  27. ^ Secret Six (vol. 3) #35
  28. ^ Secret Six (vol. 3) #36
  29. ^ Batman: Gates of Gotham #2
  30. ^ Detective Comics Vol. 2 #4
  31. ^ Detective Comics vol. 2 #5 (January 2012)
  32. ^ Detective Comics vol. 2 #15
  33. ^ Forever Evil #1
  34. ^ Detective Comics Vol. 2 23.3
  35. ^ Joker's Wild Ride (an interview with the author), on IGN.com
  36. ^ Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance #1 (June 2011)
  37. ^ Batman: Earth One
  38. ^ Gotham episode "Selina Kyle"
  39. ^ "Fox’s ‘Gotham’ Casts Classic ‘Batman’ Characters the Penguin, Alfred Pennyworth". Variety. 2014-02-11. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 
  40. ^ Matsuda, Jeff. "The Batman Unused Character Designs – Behind the Scenes". BringOnTheBatman.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2008. 
  41. ^ Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
  42. ^ "Batman Arkham City • Portrait of a Penguin". Arkhamcity.co.uk. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  43. ^ Logan Westbrook. "Arkham City's Penguin Shares a Voice With Nathan Drake | The Escapist". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  44. ^ "Episode 241". Thisamericanlife.org. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  45. ^ Bricken, Rob (April 15, 2013). "Patton Oswalt is a perfect Penguin in the newest Badman installment". io9.
  46. ^ "Jon Stewart Gets His Props, Even Without Them". Washingtonpost.com. September 18, 2006. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  47. ^ "The Colbert Report Full Episode | Monday Mar 16 2009". Comedy Central. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  48. ^ Regalado, Antonio and Searcey, Dionne, "Where Did That Video Spoofing Gore's Film Come From?", online.wsj.com, 3 August 2006, retrieved 1 August 2012

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