Cast This: The Penguin

Near the end of May, Variety’s Justin Kroll dropped a tidbit of Batman-related news on us when he claimed that he had heard that the Penguin could potentially be the main villain in Matt Reeves‘ THE BATMAN. However, even if Reeves does decide to go another direction and choose another villain, Kroll said that Penguin could become the main heavy in BIRDS OF PREY, Cathy Yan’s Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) spin-off. Either way, it seems likely that Warner Bros. is intent on seeing the Penguin back on the big-screen. Justin Kroll cautioned that this news should be taken with a grain of salt as anything could change, but it was enough to get people talking about just who should step into the role.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot is one of Batman’s oldest enemies, first appearing in Detective Comics #58 all the way back in December of 1941. What the Gotham City mobster lacks in physical intimidation (although he’s certainly capable when pressed into a corner) he makes up for with his ruthless intellect and criminal connections. As with most long-running comic-book characters, the origins of Penguin have shifted and changed over the decades, but most stories find Cobblepot born into a wealthy family where he was often bullied due to his short stature and physical features. Those rejections pushed Cobblepot towards a life of crime, and he adopted his distinctive formal attire consisting of a top hat, monocle, and tuxedo as he set out to become a gentleman of crime. Penguin also made use of a variety of trick umbrellas, some quite deadly, to dispatch his foes

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The character’s last appearance on the big-screen was in Tim Burton‘s BATMAN RETURNS, where he was played by Danny DeVito, so Penguin is clearly due for a return. In addition to Danny DeVito, the Penguin has also been brought into the realm of live-action by Burgess Meredith on the 60s’ Batman TV series and by Robin Lord Taylor on Gotham, which Fox renewed for a fifth and final season last month.

Were he still alive, Philip Seymour Hoffman would be at the top of my list to take on the role of the Penguin, but there are still a multitude of other fine actors ready to play the character. Josh Gad (MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS) has frequently teased taking on the role over the past year, and although I may not have initially considered the actor due to his primarily comedic roles, I’m willing to include him as a possibility. Paul Giamatti (Billions) is far too magnificent an actor to let his role of the Rhino in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 stand as his sole involvement with super-hero villainy, and I would wager that he would be more than capable at giving Penguin a cackling sense of menace. Earlier this month, BossLogic gave us a glimpse at what Andy Serkis (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES) would look like as the Penguin, and fans were quick to agree that he would make for a marvelous choice, plus, it would be great to see Serkis in more live-action roles.

Remember, you’re free to suggest anyone in the comments, so let your inner casting director run wild!

Previously on Cast This, you were asked to fill the role of Boba Fett, the feared bounty hunter set to become to subject of James Mangold and Simon Kinberg‘s upcoming STAR WARS spin-off. This particular casting prompted quite a lot of debate, with many arguing that whoever dons the suit isn’t as important as the voice, given that Fett isn’t exactly known for taking off his helmet. That said, there were still a lot of great suggestions for the role, including keeping Temuera Morrison (STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES) as Fett. Pana Hema Taylor (Spartacus) and Boyd Holbrook (THE PREDATOR) were also brought up as interesting choices for the role.