The Gotham City underworld is ready to rise in HBO Max’s upcoming series, The Penguin. Following the dark and captivating narrative of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, The Penguin Season 1 will explore the twisted life of Oswald Cobblepot, portrayed by the transformative Colin Farrell.
With an unforgettable entrance in the 2022 film, Farrell’s Penguin was a standout character, his ominous presence leaving audiences eager for more. Now, the notorious crime boss is set to return in an eight-part limited series that promises to delve deeper into his rise to power.
Here’s everything we know so far about The Penguin Season 1.
A New Batman Spinoff
The major success of Matt Reeves’ The Batman has paved the way for the director to expand his corner of the DC Universe. Reeves’ Batman universe is seen as separate from the main DCEU that is going through changes under the new leadership of James Gunn and Peter Safran. Among the characters in The Batman movie that stood out was the Penguin himself, Oswald Cobblepot, played by Colin Farrell.
The Penguin will be the first spinoff show from The Batman, a crime drama that will give fans and viewers another look into the criminal underworld of Gotham. Batman is one of the very few comic book characters whose supporting characters – especially villains – are incredibly interesting in that they can have their own stories.
Lauren LeFranc is going to serve as showrunner to The Penguin Season 1 and will also write the episodes. Reeves and producer Dylan Clark are the show’s executive producers. Reeves will not be directing the early episodes of the show, with Craig Zobel tapped to helm an early episode. Michael Marino, who worked on the character’s make-up in The Batman, will also be returning for the show.
The Penguin Season 1 will center on Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot and his journey through the ranks of Gotham’s criminal underworld. Timeline-wise, it will follow the events of The Batman movie, with the flooding of Gotham City.
A production notice for the show that went out in November, has the series description listed as:
A spinoff of The Batman, described as a “Scarface-like” series about the rise of the Penguin character. During the events of The Batman, crime boss Don Carmine Falcone was murdered by The Riddler. He was the king of Gotham’s criminal enterprise, and his death has created a power struggle that moves The Penguin forward into action. Sofia and Alberto Falcone, the children of Carmine, will be coming to make their claim on Gotham City. Other Falcone family players like cousin Johnny Viti and Consigliere Milos Grappa will join the siblings in rebuilding Carmine’s empire. The Penguin will fight for his ambitious desire to succeed Don Falcone as the number one player in Gotham, even while his mother’s dementia worsens. But Oswald Cobblepot has more to deal with than just the Falcone’s and his sick mom. Another player is entering the fray Don Salvatore Maroni the head of the Maroni crime family, an organization that has a long-standing rivalry with the Falcones.
“Colin exploded off the screen as the Penguin in The Batman. 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,” said Reeves.
In an interview with Collider, Reeves confirmed the timeline where The Penguin Season 1 will take place. The events of the show will lead directly to The Batman: Part Two. The Penguin is described as having a similar tone as Scarface, with Oswald determined to take control of Gotham’s crime world.
“The goal of this is to show what Oz’s life is like and that’s very much in the streets of Gotham, trying get up and over as only the Penguin can,” Max head of originals Sarah Aubrey told Variety about the show.
“As a hustler and a strategist with his own ambitions. It is a great example of having the time over eight episodes to tell a longer-arc character story with a lot of delicious twists and turns and new characters. It’s very much going to be about Gotham at that street level because he’s not flying around like Batman does. We are all embracing that as a very specific experience for audiences to have,” said Aubrey.
The Penguin Season 1 Cast
Much like in The Batman movie, Colin Farrell will reprise his role as Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a The Penguin for The Penguin Season 1. Farrell will also be an executive producer of the show. The actor received praise for his performance in the movie, especially for his physical transformation into the character.
Cristin Milioti also joins The Penguin Season 1. Milioti plays Sofia Falcone. Sofia is the daughter of Carmine Falcone, who is at odds with the titular character in the fight over control of Gotham. The character played a key role in the comic Batman: The Long Halloween, which Reeves drew a lot of inspiration from for The Batman.
Clancy Brown is also joining the cast as rival gang leader Salvatore Maroni. In the comics, Maroni was responsible for throwing acid at attorney Harvey Dent. This led Harvey Dent to become the iconic Batman Rogue, Two-Face.
Mark Strong is also reportedly joining the cast for The Penguin Season 1 as Carmine Falcone. While John Turturro played Carmine Falcone in The Batman, it’s possible that Strong’s iteration of the mob boss would be in a flashback scene. Strong is also no stranger to the DCEU, as he previously portrayed villain Dr. Sivana in the Shazam movie.
Other cast members for The Penguin Season 1 include Michael Kelly, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Deirdre O’Connell, Rhenzy Feliz, Michael Zegen, James Madio, Scott Cohen, Carmen Ejogo, Francois Chau, David H. Holmes, and Theo Rossi.
What Else to Expect
The Penguin Season 1 will have eight episodes. As said earlier, the show marks the first spinoff from The Batman. Reeves is also developing more spinoffs, focusing on the GCPD and the infamous Arkham Asylum. The director is also exploring the option of developing feature-length projects based on Batman’s villains, similar to the Joker movie by Todd Philips.
“There’s actually a whole fabric of things we’re wanting to do, the way we’re going with Penguin and how that comes back into…how that will lead into the sequel and what that sequel is going to be,” Reeves told Collider.
Max released a featurette that gave fans a peek into Gotham’s criminal underworld. With Carmine Falcone dead, the position of the top boss is up for grabs. Unless Batman gets in the Penguin’s way, that is.
Farrell also sought to assure fans about the series.
“Matt Reeves is all over it. And sure Matt is borderline OCD when it comes to his focus and trying to do something new and original and with feeling and aesthetic and all that good stuff,” said the actor.
Farrell also revealed some details about the plot, confirming the time the show will take place.
“I read the first script for the first episode and it opens up with my feet splashing through the water in Falcone’s office,” said Farrell, who also told Collider that he already read the pilot episode. The actor described it as “tasty” and “unusual as the character was on the page and what Matt Reeves kind of envisioned when he was thinking of this iteration of the bang-up of Oz.”
At the same time, fans can’t help but wonder if Robert Pattinson appear on the show as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s been rumored that Pattinson may make a cameo.
The Penguin Season 1 Release Date Speculation
With the flurry of superhero releases last year, The Penguin Season 1 was expected to premiere on Max sometime in 2024. Farrell revealed in an interview that production for The Penguin started in February 2023. It was expected to continue through July 31 in New York. However, both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes happened, pausing the production.
In a previous WBD (Warner Brothers Discovery) presentation, it was suggested that The Penguin would have an early 2024 premiere. Production resumed on the series on December 6th under the working title “BOSS.” It’s unclear how much is left to film for Season 1. However, a release date later in 2024 still seems possible.
We’ll keep you all posted as more news surfaces. We expect that there will likely be another update on the series during WBD’s Upfront presentation this spring.