Colin Farrell as Penguin in The Batman

Here’s How ‘The Batman’ Sets up the Penguin HBO Series

The Iceberg Lounge is open for business.
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Unlike many adaptations of the famous Caped Crusader, Matt Reeves’ The Batman wasn’t an origin story. However, it definitely snuck in as the perfect under-the-radar origin for the Penguin. You may have heard that Colin Farrell is set to reprise his role as Oswald Cobblepot on HBO Max. The show was officially ordered to series after the film opened in theaters.

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“Colin exploded off the screen as the Penguin in The Batman,” Reeves said in a statement, “and having the chance to thoroughly explore the inner life of that character on HBO Max is an absolute thrill. Dylan and I are so excited to work with Lauren in continuing Oz’s story as he grabs violently for power in Gotham.”

And once we learned a show was in the works, it seemed clear that there was a lot of setup in the movie that would lead to a deep dive into the character on TV. Here’s how The Batman is secretly a backdoor pilot for the Penguin series (suffice it to say, this will involve spoilers for The Batman).

What do we know about The Penguin in the film?

So according to Variety, the show is about Oz—isn’t it cute that his nickname is Oz?—gaining power. That, and the events of The Batman, give us a decent idea as to what this show will look like. At the beginning of the film, Copplepot, played by Farrell, is already The Penguin. He’s established. He owns and operates the Iceberg Lounge. He even works with both Batman and Gordon, albeit begrudgingly.

However, he’s not the Big Cheese in Gotham City yet. Oz works for Carmine Falcone as his lieutenant, and it’s really Falcone who holds the most power in The Batman (after inheriting it from Sal Maroni). Then, after multiple secrets and conspiracies surrounding Falcone are revealed, the mobster is shot dead outside of the Iceberg Lounge—suddenly leaving Cobblepot with a club to run and no boss to answer to.

Falcone’s death isn’t the only power vacuum in Gotham City

By the end of The Batman, Gotham needs to be rebuilt from the ground up—literally, but also politically. The District Attorney (played hilariously by Peter Sarsgaard) has died at the hands of the Riddler, and there’s a brand new mayor-elect, Bella Reál, left to pick up the pieces. That leaves a lot of open space for The Penguin to wiggle into. He’s perfectly placed to gather his allies and establish himself as the big boss. It all makes sense as the start to a fun, gritty Penguin series.

But if you’re having some déjà vu and wondering “Haven’t we already seen a show about the Penguin’s rise to power?” You’re correct! The show was on Fox and called Gotham. But just like the many iterations of Batman’s adventures, I think there’s room for a few takes on Penguin’s journey. If the HBO Max series is anything like Reeves’ film, it won’t look or sound anything like Gotham (outside of some general plot specifics). It’s also not a prequel. Still, if you’re feeling a little bit salty about this spinoff, you’re not alone.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Image of Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas (she/her) is a contributor at The Mary Sue. She has been working in digital entertainment journalism since 2013, covering primarily television as well as film and live theatre. She's been on the Marvel beat professionally since Daredevil was a Netflix series. (You might recognize her voice from the Newcomers: Marvel podcast). Outside of journalism, she is 50% Southerner, 50% New Englander, and 100% fangirl over everything from Lord of the Rings to stage lighting and comics about teenagers. She lives in New York City and can often be found in a park. She used to test toys for Hasbro. True story!