The internet had a lot of feelings when Robert Pattinson was cast at our next cinematic Batman. Amid reports that RBattz was official, rumors also abounded that director Matt Reeves was casting for the Penguin and Catwoman.
The Penguin, also known as Oswald Cobblepot, was most famously portrayed by Danny DeVito on the big screen in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. So which actor should be cast in this iconic role next? Here are The Beat’s top five picks for actors who should play The Penguin. Let us know who you’d pick in the comments!
(Chosen by Edward Douglas)
After the Joker, there’s no bigger adversary for the Dark Knight than the DC Universe’s biggest bird enthusiast. The Penguin doesn’t have the size or the strength for a physical match-up, but he has the brains to constantly put Batman on the defensive. Maybe my choice for this one is obvious because Andy Serkis has worked extensively with Reeves, but if any actor can pull off the physical and psychological aspects of the Penguin, Serkis might be it. If you need proof, just check out how sleazy and unrecognizable Serkis is as a media mogul in Seth Rogen’s and Charlize Theron’s Long Shot. It’s almost an audition to play the Penguin! (Of course, the problem is that Serkis already plays the villain Ulysses Klaw in the Marvel Universe, so that might be a dealbreaker? Djimon Housou might think otherwise.)
(Chosen by Hannah Lodge)
When I was first thinking of who I’d fan cast in this role, I was mostly looking at it from a physical perspective. But I think DeVito’s portrayal of this character was so iconic, that if I were casting this part, I’d try to take it in a different direction in both looks and tone to avoid direct comparisons. Giancarlo Esposito is one of my favorite television villains of all time in Breaking Bad. I think that same quiet, threatening, almost playful menace he brought to the part of Gus Fring could be an excellent fit for the role. If you’re not convinced yet, just check out this clip of his hard stare unnerving Conan O’Brien.
(Chosen by Kyle Pinion)
Every time I think of the Penguin, Gotham aside, I have a very specific image in my head. It’s usually some iteration of the squat, bespectacled figure that’s occupied the comics since the 1940s, rather than the monstrous Burton creation or the lithe version that’s popped up in Gotham. And anytime I close my eyes to picture who would be the ideal older, club-owning, dapper version of the Penguin, Timothy Spall is consistently the first actor who comes to mind. He’s got great genre chops, having played the rodent-transforming Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter movies. He’s also a towering performer, having collaborated for much of his career with master filmmaker Mike Leigh, and his range is frankly incredible (compare his work in Mr. Turner to Denial, just as a starting point). On top of that, he’s a better physical match than most. All of these elements combine for an easy, instant choice to square off with our new Batman.
(Chosen by Aaron Halls)
Sean Astin’s film characters often have the ability to melt peoples’ hearts with their sincerity – I think it’s time for him to shatter them by taking on the role of the Penguin. As Oswald Cobblepot, Astin could get the chance to stretch his acting muscles and sink his teeth into a ruthless role. At the same time, as we’ve seen with Marvel Studios’ Mad Titan Thanos and even WB’s Doctor Sivana in Shazam!, empathy goes a long way for creating a strong villain character; Astin is able to create this feeling with great aplomb through his performances. Who better to convince you in their fight to take Gotham than the man who brought you to tears as Sam and Rudy? In Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Astin’s character tells his friend Frodo that great stories have darkness and danger – it’s time for the actor to portray that danger.
(Chosen by Samantha Puc)
One of my earliest movie memories is seeing Danny DeVito as the Penguin and being utterly grossed out. As an adult, I’m still grossed out, but also able to recognize the distinctive humor that DeVito brought to the role. After wracking my brain for several days to figure out who could embody the character in a new way that still pays tributes to his comic origins, I think the answer is Richard Armitage. There were rumors that a new Penguin was modeled after the actor, but even setting those aside, Armitage is a great performer with a magnetic appeal that could lead to a truly iconic performance, especially opposite RBattz.