It’s been a long wait for the next chapter of Batman film history to unfold, but as things stand now, Matt Reeves’ The Batman is on track for a spring 2022 release, with Robert Pattinson donning the cape and cowl this time around. But The Batman isn’t simply the first entry in a proposed trilogy, as it was announced in summer 2020 that a spinoff series centered on this DC Comics continuity’s Gotham City Police Department is coming to HBO Max. Now word’s come in that the streaming service is preparing another series to spin off of The Batman, this one focusing on Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penguin.
Lauren LeFranc, the showrunner behind the YouTube Premium series Impulse who’s also worked on shows like Chuck and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has been tapped to write the script for this Penguin project, which is described by Deadline as a “Scarface-like” series about the character’s rise to power in the Gotham City criminal underworld. Matt Reeves is attached to executive produce alongside Dylan Clark through their respective 6th & Idaho and Dylan Clark Productions production companies. Colin Farrell has also reportedly been approached about starring in The Batman spinoff series, which is in the early stages of development, but a deal hasn’t been worked out yet.
Introduced in 1941’s Detective Comics #58, The Penguin is one of the most famous members of Batman’s rogues gallery, and Colin Farrell is the third actor to play the character in a live-action movie, following Burgess Meredith in 1966’s Batman (reprising his role from the same-named TV series) and Danny DeVito in 1992’s Batman Returns. Oswald Cobblepot was also recently portrayed in live-action by Robin Lord Taylor in the Fox series Gotham, which, like this HBO Max Penguin series plans to do, showed how he became one of Gotham City’s most notorious villains. Assuming Colin Farrell does sign onto the project, this will follow his time on the AMC+ miniseries The North Water, which aired this past summer and came out six years after Farrell’s outing as Detective Ray Velcoro in True Detective Season 2.
Because HBO Max’s Penguin series is in the early planning stages, it’ll likely be a while until we learn any specific plot details. That said, the main thing I’m curious about is where it’s slotted on The Batman universe timeline. Like the GCPD series, will this take place during Batman’s first year of fighting crime in Gotham City, and thus one year before The Batman movie itself? Or will it go further back to a time when Batman hadn’t established himself in Gotham City? The latter option would definitely be the case if, for some strange reason, Farrell doesn’t end up starring and a younger actor is brought aboard to play the character.
As for what we can expect from Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot in The Batman, we’ll meet him at a time where he hasn’t become one of Gotham City’s chief crime bosses yet and dislikes being referred to as Penguin. He’ll make up one-fourth of the movie’s antagonistic lineup, the others being Paul Dano’s Riddler, Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman and John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone. The Batman’s cast also includes Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson, Barry Keoghan as Stanley Merkel and Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál. In addition to his directorial duties, Matt Reeves co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig and Mattson Tomlin.
Assuming it’s not pushed back on the theatrical calendar again, The Batman will swoop into theaters on March 4, 2022. Look through our upcoming DC movies guide to learn what else this corner of the superhero market has coming up, and don’t forget that shows like Peacemaker, Green Lantern and Justice League Dark are also headed to HBO Max.