- "You're just jealous because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!"
- ―The Penguin to Batman[src]
The Penguin was the alias of Oswald Cobblepot. He was a deformed man who was abandoned and raised in the sewers as a baby. Penguin carried deadly weapon concealed umbrellas and his horrible past turned him into a bitter and ruthless sociopath.
Origin and Early Life
- "My name is not Oswald! It's Penguin! I am not a human being! I am an animal! Cold blooded!"
- ―The Penguin to the Red Triangle Gang[src]
Around Christmas in Gotham City, the aristocratic Cobblepots gave birth to a baby boy (despite him being a July baby in other incarnations). Because the child was deformed, they locked him in a black box, where he showed his first sign of homicidal tendencies when he attacked the family cat. Disgusted, the Cobblepots ventured out into the snow and dropped their vicious baby in the sewers. Eventually the Cobblepot baby washed up onto the shore of the Arctic World exhibit at the Old Zoo.
Not much was known of Penguin's early life from then on, except that he basically ran off to join the Red Triangle Circus Gang. Then when the circus returned to a town for two weeks which featured newly added to their freak-show: The Poodle Lady, The World's Fattest Man, and an Aquatic Bird Boy. The circus's two week stay was put to an end early because while guests were at the circus, their children went missing. One of the freak-show performers vanished before he could be questioned, and some said that it was the Aquatic Bird Boy who was, by that time, been nicknamed The Penguin by his fellow freaks.
The Penguin then retreated to the abandoned Gotham City Zoo, in order to hide from the GCPD. That was where his nickname was put to use rather literally. He went back to the Arctic World exhibit. Somehow, he was able to track down fellow members of the circus and they formed the Red Triangle Gang. The Penguin ran around the Gotham Sewers because there was an access way from the Arctic World exhibit (the same way that he floated in when he was a baby). Penguin used a Duck Car from a sky ride at the Zoo to get around the sewers easily. When the Penguin was 33 years old, it was Christmas in Gotham.
That was all based/taken from the news articles that Bruce Wayne had on the Batcomputer in the Batcave from Batman Returns with a little bit of stuff from the comics that was thrown in to add to Penguin's early years.
Revenge on Gotham City
- "Just relax, I'll take care of the squealing wretched pinhead puppets of Gotham. You gotta admit, I played this stinking city like a harp from Hell!"
- ―The Penguin to Batman[src]
33 years later, a multimillionaire named Max Shreck was kidnapped by the Red Triangle Gang and was brought to their leader, a short, and deformed man known as "The Penguin". at his secret hideout. Penguin blackmailed Shreck with incriminating evidence of his more dubious activities, such as the toxic waste from his clean textile plant, documents that proved that Shreck owned a few firetraps in Gotham (which Shreck had shredded, but with a little patience, the Penguin had carefully taped them back together), and his ex-partner Fred Atkins' hand. Max had told everyone that Fred was on paid vacation. That prompted Shreck to agree in helping Penguin find out his true identity and his parents.
Shreck arranged for the Penguin to "rescue" the Mayor's infant son from his own gang member. The plan worked, and Penguin became a hero to all, with the exception of a suspicious Bruce Wayne. After he found out his original birth name of Oswald Cobblepot (as well as the names of Gotham's first born sons), Penguin eventually won the approval of Gotham's citizens and, after he was persuaded by Shreck to do so, intended to run for Mayor.
After he encountered Batman and Catwoman while he took a walk around his future constituency at night, Penguin was contacted by Catwoman the following day, who noted that she and Penguin shared a hatred for Batman. Although Penguin stated that he already planned to sabotage the Batmobile, Catwoman noted that Batman would have more power as a martyr, and that the only way to truly destroy him was to frame him and turn him into one of the criminals that he despised.
When the subsequent plan was put into action, Batman was framed for kidnapping and murder of The Ice Princess and found himself trapped in the Batmobile under Penguin's remote control. However, Catwoman and Penguin's alliance fell apart when she rebuffed a sexual advance from him, and Penguin tried to kill Catwoman himself, although she successfully escaped with the use of his air bound umbrella before she accidentally let go and fell into a greenhouse, but she once again miraculously survived the attempt, which counted as her third of nine lives. The Penguin's campaign to oust the Mayor was quickly destroyed when Bruce played selected comments that Penguin made that insulted the people of Gotham when he controlled the Batmobile at one of Penguin's speeches, the most prominent phrase: "You've got to admit, I played this stinking city like a harp from hell!" The people of Gotham got angry, which forced Penguin to defend himself with his machine gun umbrella, and the GCPD chased after him. Penguin fled back into the sewer, and revealed his original plan: kidnap and kill the first born children of Gotham's most prominent families in revenge (comparable to the Pharaoh killing the first-born Hebrew babies in the beginning of the Book of Exodus in the Bible) and drown them in the waters of his lair, which he poisoned with the toxic waste that was taken from Shreck's textile plant for the occasion.
Penguin stormed the hall of the Masquerade Ball that was hosted by Shreck with a shout "You didn't invite me, so I crashed!" and tried to take Schreck's beloved son, Chip. Schreck successfully pleaded with Penguin to take him instead. Penguin held Schreck in cage that overlooked the poisoned water, told him his plan, and remarked: "And you get to watch them sink... Into a deep puddle of your industrial by-products. Then you join them."
Batman attacked Penguin's Red Triangle Circus Gang members and put a stop to the kidnappings. Penguin then dispatched an army of Missile-armed Penguins to completely annihilate Gotham. Batman managed to jam the birds' control signals and turned them around. Batman then tracked Penguin down through the sewers.
Destruction of the zoo
After he knew that Batman was closing in on him and after he saw the rest of the Red Triangle Gang fleeing, Penguin rushed over to his Duck Car, grabbed one of his umbrellas along the way, and drove to the surface. Batman followed him by driving the Batskiboat straight through the walls at the top of Penguin's Lair and destroyed the Duck Car.
Batman got out and surveyed the wreckage, but the Penguin pounced on him and they began to fight with Penguin unsheathing a sharp blade from the tip of his umbrella. Batman responded by taking out a remote control from his Utility Belt, which caused all of the Penguins to gather at the zoo.
Furious and horrified at the same time, Penguin viciously swipes his umbrella at Batman. However, Penguin broke the blade when he accidentally hit the Duck Car, but he managed to knock the control out of Batman's hand.
After he grinned with triumph, Penguin picked up the remote and pressed the glowing red button which caused the Penguins to fire their missiles. Then the Batskiboat released a flock of bats which surrounded Penguin. He violently swatted at the swarm with his umbrella, stepping backward until he fell through the large skylight of his lair and into the poisoned water below. Batman was unable to save him, much like the Ice Princess. Meanwhile, the Penguins continued to fire their missiles, which destroyed the outside of the Arctic World exhibit and the rest of the zoo.
Later following the final confrontation between Catwoman, and Shreck, culminating in Catwoman killing Shreck with a taser and a high-powered electric cable from Penguin's generator, the unmasked Batman was desperately looking through the debris for Catwoman. In a vulnerable state just from woken from a daze, a mortally wounded Penguin who emerged from the water, eager to kill him. Penguin lumbered toward his umbrella barrel, struggling to breathe. By the time Bruce sensed Cobblepot's presence, it was too late and rose to face him.
Although seriously injured and horribly intoxicated by his fall into the poisoned water, the Penguin had drawn an umbrella from his collection, only to find that it's a harmless toy ("a Cute One"), and dropped it. After he complained of the heat, Penguin mentioned to Batman that he "will murder him momentarily", just as soon as he "can get a cold drink of ice water", which ultimately turned out to be his last words. Penguin then collapsed on the concrete and died from the poisoning, as well as his injuries.
At that moment, six Emperor Penguins emerged from the shadows behind Penguin's body and solemnly dragged it back into the water. As a result, the Penguin slowly sunk to his final resting place in a black cloud of his own drool.
Behind the Scenes
- Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin: Abandoned at birth due to his hideous appearance by his aristocratic parents, he spends his life living in the sewers of Gotham City. He eventually rises and thickens a plot to take over Gotham as its new Mayor. However, his real intentions are to dispose of every first born son in Gotham City out of vengeance against his parents for abandoning him as a child. Director Tim Burton, inspired by Lon Chaney in London After Midnight, had re-imagined the character not as an eloquent gentleman of crime, but as a physically deformed lunatic with a childhood trauma. While that Penguin retained a number of trademarks, particularly the variety of trick umbrellas and the use of a monocle, he was given a huge visual makeover: His hands were flippers, with a thumb and index finger, and the remaining three fingers were fused together. Where the comic version had varied between a full head of hair and varying degrees of thinning, that Penguin was bald, with his remaining length of hair long and stringy. Instead of a tuxedo, he wore a more Gothic, Victorian-style outfit, with a jabot as opposed to a bow tie. Other instances showed Penguin in black boots, a bib-like cloth around his neck, and something akin to a child's blanket sleeper, or the old long john-style underwear of the 1800's. Combined with his long dark coat, the full white front of the bodysuit gave Penguin an even more penguin-like appearance. One visual aspect that remained fairly intact in that re-imagining was the familiar top hat. Another new touch was his large yellow duck car, which had the triple functionality of being a boat, a car, and an elevator-like lift.
- Wesley Strick was primarily brought in to come up with a solution with "Penguin's lack of a master plan" and "normalize" the dialogue. Strick claimed that he was presented with "the usual boring ideas to do with warming the city, or freezing the city" (the latter ended up in Batman & Robin). Strick pitched an alternative approach, that was inspired by the Moses parallels of Waters' prologue, in which the infant Oswald Cobblepot was bundled in a basket and thrown in the river where he floated helplessly until he's saved (and subsequently raised) by Gotham's sewer denizens. He came up with Penguin's "master plan" to kill the firstborn sons of Gotham City. Both the studio and Burton were impressed with the idea, though Strick claimed that the toy manufacturers were worried.
- Universal's Stage 12 housed the Penguin's underground lair, an enormous tank that was filled with half-a-million gallons of water and a simulated ice floe island. To create Penguin's bird army, a combination of techniques were utilized including men in suits, computer-generated imagery, robotic creatures and real life penguins. Everyone involved was required to sign a document guaranteeing that they would not specifically hold interviews with news sources. About midway through filming, however, a few test shots of DeVito in costume found their way into an American entertainment magazine. Warner Brothers hired a group of private investigators to track down the source, though the ploy ultimately failed.
- In Tom Mankiewicz's script of the first movie, that featured the Penguin, he was described as "a tall, proper-looking, thin man".
- In the unmade sequel of Batman & Robin, that was named Batman Unchained, the Penguin would have reappeared as a hallucination by Scarecrow's Fear Gas.
- In Batman Begins, the opera that was attended by Bruce and his parents featured characters who were similar to Tim Burton's Penguin that tugged at the ropes.