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7 Penguin Stories to Inspire THE BATMAN And BIRDS OF PREY

Matt ReevesThe Batman is two years away, and we still don’t even know who will be playing the Dark Knight in the film. But we have a better idea about who the villain might be, thanks to Variety’s Justin Kroll, who tweeted about the possibility of the Penguin being the film’s main antagonist. Kroll also suggested that Oswald Cobblepot might also be the main baddie in the Birds of Prey movie, tying the two films together in some way.

Although the Penguin is easily one of Batman’s five most iconic villains, along with the Joker, Riddler, Two-Face and Catwoman, he hasn’t had much respect in the modern era of Batman films. Christopher Nolan chose to ignore him completely for his trilogy, and he hasn’t even been hinted at in the DCEU so far. Television’s Gotham made him into a main villain, probably because they thought the movie side of things had no plans for him.

Another sign that Warner Brothers is looking to use the Penguin is that actor Josh Gad has been heavily hinting over the past year that he is up for the role. So something is in the air for Oswald coming to the big screen, his first time since Batman Returns in 1992. If Pengy returns, here are some great stories from across Batman media that could serve as inspiration for Hollywood.

Joker’s Asylum: Penguin (2008)

Current Marvel writer Jason Aaron wrote this one-shot back in 2008, which is essentially the Penguin’s origin story, but told through the insane eyes of the Joker. We see Oswald as a bullied kid, exacting revenge by unleashing his pet birds to scratch and bite his tormentors. The girls then get their revenge on him, attacking him with baseball bats. Hoping his beloved birds will comfort him, he goes to pet one which then bites him,  and Oswald snaps and kills the bird — his first murder. All of this would make for great Penguin backstory for a film.

Batman: Earth One (2011)

Geoff Johns’ modern update of the Penguin from his Earth One OGN features Oswald Cobblepot as a corrupt billionaire who is running for mayor against Bruce’s father Thomas Wayne. He even has it arranged so that Wayne is murdered, but Joe Chill beats him to the punch in Crime Alley. Nevertheless, this corrupt billionaire version of the Penguin proves to be a thorn in Batman and Alfred’s side in this cool post modern version of the character.

Penguin Triumphant (1992)

Written by John Ostrander, this 1992 graphic novel depicts the Penguin as a legitimate businessman, with a plan to take over Wall Street and destroy not Batman, but his business rival Bruce Wayne. Not a super exciting story for a movie I grant you, but elements of it could be used to make Oswald’s backstory richer.

“The Mechanic” Batman: The Animated Series (1992)

In this episode, the third to ever use the Penguin, the Batmobile is virtually demolished in an accident after a high speed chase. After Batman takes the car to his personal mechanic, Earl Cooper, the man who secretly fixes Batman’s ride after all incidents that result in damage, Penguin decides to mess with the Batmobile itself, and places it under his control.

“Birds of a Feather” Batman: The Animated Series (1992)

Another gem from the early run of BTAS, this episode sympathizes with Oswald Cobblepot more than most other stories which feature the character in a prominent role. In this episode, Penguin gets parole and tries his best to go the straight and narrow path. But a bored, rich couple from Gotham decided to mentally screw with Oswald, leading him down the dark road for good.

Birds of Prey #0 (2012)

In the New 52, the Penguin has a direct tie to the origin of superhero Black Canary, which might be useful in a film version of Birds of Prey. In this story, vigilante Dinah Lance tried to get a job at the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge night club, knowing that a lead on criminal organization which she was after might turn up there. To prove her value to the Penguin, Dinah showed off her sonic scream powers. The scream sent Penguin’s goons after her, and she kicked their butts with her martial arts skills in no time. Super impressed, Penguin hired her, and he named her Black Canary.

Detective Comics: Emperor Penguin (2013)

In another story from DC Comics’ New 52 era, Oswald Cobblepot isn’t happy anymore with just being the crime lord called the Penguin, he wants even more power in Gotham City. Those plans are thrown for a loop when a new crime lord emerges calling himself Emperor Penguin. He’s everything Penguin is, but better and more lethal.

Do you have a favorite Penguin story you’d like to see inspire a big screen version of the character? Let us know down below in the comments.

Images: DC Comics / Warner Brothers Animation

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