Of all of the Batman villains trotted out on Gotham so far, the best one — by far — has been Oswald Cobblepot. Selina Kyle (Catwoman) seems more like a victim of circumstance instead of a villain. Edward Nygma (the Riddler) hasn’t done much but annoy the Gotham Police Department with his indirect way of answering questions. Fish Mooney is just too much — and that’s saying something for a comic book show. Cobblepot, as played by Robin Lord Taylor, has the best mix of pitiful (he’s bullied for his appearance), villainous (he has greater ambitions for Gotham), and dangerous (he’s killed a lot of people so far). So, let’s get to it: When will Oswald Cobblepot become the Penguin — and how will he get there?
It’s hard to say, since the Penguin has been kicking around as a Batman character since 1941, so he’s had a few different origin stories by now. Gotham has already showed that it’s willing to play with Batman lore, too — its Cobblepot is tall and lanky and only birdlike in his face and walk, which is different from the usual short-and-squat Penguin appearance — but they probably won’t stray too far from previous Penguins. So, if we look back into the comics and previous Penguin incarnations, we can take a guess as to when Gotham will have Cobblepot undergo his big transformation.
The Sad Beginning
Penguin is sort of a flipside/mirror image of Bruce Wayne, in that he also started from wealthy beginnings — hence the monocle, top hat, and fancy umbrella he’s often seen with — and grew up without parents. The big difference between Cobblepot and Bruce Wayne is that Cobblepot is rejected for his penguin-like appearance. Sometimes his parents reject him for his birdlike qualities (or, in some versions, outright deformities); sometimes the rejection comes from others. It turns him into a bitter and hateful person.
The Batman Returns Twist
In Tim Burton’s (excellent) Batman Returns, the Penguin’s origins are even stranger. He’s even more physically deformed, so his parents actually throw him in the sewer. There, he’s found by a group of trained circus penguins — really — and raised by them. The movie implies that he works in the circus, and the Red Triangle Circus gang become his henchmen. Since Gotham’s Cobblepot isn’t deformed like Batman Returns’ Penguin, and since it doesn’t seem like he was raised by penguins, I think we can set this version aside for now. We don’t have to wait for Cobblepot to join the circus before becoming the Penguin.
His Involvement in Organized Crime
Obviously, the Penguin always turns to a life of crime as an adult. In the earliest stories, he was more of a thief like Catwoman, but more stories have him as an organized crime boss (and sometimes a casino owner). That’s a big difference between the Penguin of the comics and the Cobblepot of Gotham — Penguin may be weird-looking and angry, but he’s a regular crime boss, like Carmine Falcone. Gotham ’s Cobblepot seems more mentally unstable and, well, murdery than the norm.
So, When Will Gotham’s Cobblepot Become Penguin?
Based on the previous origin stories, it seems like Gotham’s Cobblepot is already well on his way to being the full-on Penguin. Bullied for his Penguin-like appearance? Check. A foothold in Gotham’s organized crime world? Check. Plans to take over Gotham’s organized crime scene? Check. In fact, he’s more on his way to becoming his villainous alter-ego than any of the other villains in the series (except Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone, who are already crime bosses). I’d say Gotham will most likely have Cobblepot become the Penguin by the end of this season — if not sooner. They could wait and set him up as the big-bad for next season, or do it earlier and have his standoff with Mooney be the climax for this season. Either way, it ought to be good.
Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX; Giphy (4)