One of the most aesthetically frightening, brilliantly outrageous villain performances in the history of the comic book movie genre—which was still in its infancy—was Danny DeVito’s portrayal of The Penguin in 1992’s Batman Returns. However, in a testament to the genre’s current universe-entangled state, it is actually conceivable that the actor would return to the part 30 years later at the youthful age of 77—even as Colin Farrell is getting ready to make his version of the character debut. DeVito has made it clear that he would enthusiastically fan the flippers on the big screen once more.
Oswald Cobblepot, often known as The Penguin, stands out for DeVito as a career-defining role. Because of his role as the slimy dispatcher Louie De Palma on the 1978–1983 sitcom Taxi, and his subsequent success in movies like the sequel-producing 1984 adventure comedy Romancing the Stone and the sibling absurdity opposite (future fellow Batman villain) Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1988’s Twins, it was an unprecedentedly layered offering in what had up to that point been a primarily comedic career. In fact, the actor recently shared his continued love for the role in an interview with Forbes, saying he’d even reprise his role as the Penguin if Batman Returns director Tim Burton were to return to the director’s chair.
Tim has to decide whether or not he wants to make a comeback at some point, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question,” DeVito remarked. “We ain’t dead yet [laughs], so I’d say that might be rn the cards. Due to the fact that the previous work was so excellent, we could continue it. I’m grateful that they gave me the chance to do that, and would I like to do it again? of course! For me, it was a really wonderful time.
Of course, there are a number of reasons why the idea of DeVito playing Penguin again would seem ridiculous, chief among them being the fact that the character obviously passed away at the conclusion of Batman Returns, when his pet emperor penguins carried his body off to a watery grave in the gloomy sewers. However, it appears that the Multiverse Era of comic book movies is about to begin. This is especially true of this month’s Marvel release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which creates a magically crafted scenario with the help of Doctor Strange in which characters from the Wall-previous Crawler’s big screen iterations are brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after seemingly escaping their tragic onscreen deaths. DC is also preparing its own scenario for The Flash, which will be released next year, in which Ezra Miller’s Scarlet Speedster mistakenly breaks the Multiverse’s seal, opening the door for, among other improbable outcomes, the return of Michael Keaton’s Batman from the Tim Burton movies. As a result, DeVito’s wish to bring Penguin back to life is very much within the realm of possibility.
Contextually, DeVito is currently experiencing a wave of personal nostalgia for The Penguin because he recently completed a story for DC Comics’ newest Gotham City Villains Anniversary Giant anthology that brings his deceased big-screen Penguin back to life and, in what appears to be a c ase of personal wish-fulfillment, manages to conjure a romance with his temporary movie villain cohort, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman, which they attempted to do The authoring of that narrative, which he refers to as “a blessing,” has, however, apparently strengthened DeVito’s commitment to don bulky prosthetics for another major motion picture Penguin role, even though he would be close to 80 by then. Such a development would probably be well received and would be a pleasant change from Colin Farrell’s planned portrayal of the role in the 2022 release The Batman, which would star Robert Pattinson as Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, and Paul Dano as the Riddler.
In reference to his comic character-shipping, DeVito claims, “I did phone Michelle and let her know that I was doing it.” “I responded, ‘Look, having an amazing romance with such a lovely woman is like my fantasy and my dream come true. I’m referring to Oswald and Selina. When she learned about it, she was really excited.
In stark contrast to Jack Nicholson’s earlier antagonist, Joker, DeVito’s Penguin was portrayed as a tragic figure who, despite being born into wealth, was rejected by his parents due to his physical deformities. As a result, he was forced to survive in the sewers, where he developed a hatred for Gotham City, particularly the aristocrats who remind him of his parents. The Penguin’s character nuance would quickly metamorphose into parody-level villainy with the attempted kidnapping and murder of Gotham City’s children, though, after Batman provided sufficient evidence to thwart a phoney, fiction-backed plot to become elected as the city’s mayor. Any attempt at a redemptive arc crosses the line and descends into self-indulgence.
With a look reminiscent of Werner Krauss’s top-hat-wearing title character in director Robert Wiene’s 1920s horror genre breakthrough, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the character was nevertheless magnificently constructed and visually complements director Tim Burton’s displayed reverence for German silent-film era Expressionism. One of Oswald’s other enemies, Christopher Walken’s ruthless businessman Max Shreck, who shares a name with the actor who played the monster Count Orlok in F.W. Murnau’s groundbreaking 1922 vampire film, Nosferatu, solidified that distinctive visual homage to the genre. Fans would be very interested to see DeVito’s obscenely Gothic portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot return to the big screen in some capacity, especially given the likelihood that Keaton’s return to the cape-and-cowl role in The Flash will cause a rise of nostalgia for Burton’s two Batman movies.
When asked about his ongoing relationship with the character, DeVito happily responds, “There is a little Oswald in me.” Indeed, it appears that DeVito has the desire to make a comeback as the Penguin, but will there be a way? This would entail getting Tim Burton back for a DC Extended Universe production, specifically one that reteams him with his Penguin opposite Keaton’s Dark Knight. Stranger things have certainly happened, especially now that Sony-Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is helming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, an MCU film set for release in 2022.
Your long-awaited fix for Tim Burton’s Batman franchise revival will arrive in less than a year with The Flash, which is presently slated to burst into theatres on November 4, 2022. DeVito may be seen on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is now airing its fifteenth season on FXX and shows no signs of stopping.
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