Umbrellas just went on sale at Warner Bros., as HBO Max – which will soon be called “Max” because some idiot thinks HBO has too much brand recognition – has released a trailer for The Penguin, its currently-in-production miniseries about one of Batman’s greatest villains. A spinoff of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, The Penguin finds Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, or “Oz,” as he’s called in this version, rising in the ranks of Gotham City’s organized crime world in the wake of mob boss Carmine Falcone’s death. Colin Farrell returns to play The Penguin, with Cristin Milioti as Falcone’s daughter Sofia, Michael Zegen as his son Alberto, and Clancy Brown as rival gangster Salvatore “The Boss” Maroni. Created by Lauren LeFranc, The Penguin will run for eight episodes when it debuts sometime in 2024, and you can see the trailer below:
In a vacuum, this looks good. I like the imagery, and gangster stuff almost always appeals to me. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum; this is a series about established characters based on a specific movie about those characters. I know a lot of people loved The Batman, but I didn’t care for it, and I really didn’t like Colin Farrell’s ridiculous portrayal of The Penguin. I’m impressed that he looked and sounded so differently than he normally does, but he played Cobblepot like a parody of a character from a Martin Scorsese Mafia movie, with his exaggerated New York Italian accent. If it were a comedy, he’d have been great, but we’re supposed to take him seriously. The show has its work cut out for it making us believe his rise to the top of the underworld because, in the movie, he was mostly a sniveling coward.
And while I’m on the subject, Cristin Milioti is so far from the comic book version of Sofia Falcone that it may as well be a completely different character; if you’ve never read “The Long Halloween” and/or “Dark Victory,” first of all, I highly recommend them, and second, Sofia is huge, built like a linebacker, and not attractive, whereas Milioti is slender and very pretty. That they’re putting her and Alberto in this makes me think Reeves or someone else associated with this universe is eventually going to adapt “The Long Halloween,” which I could do without. I love the comic, but if they’re going to do it, I’d rather it be more faithful (which it can’t be without Carmine, who is no longer with us in this world) and have a better Batman at its center than Robert Pattinson. I hope those looking forward to this like it, but it’s not for me.