Colin Farrell is the type of actor who frequents all kinds of "Sexiest Man Alive" articles. But in his role as the Batman villain Penguin in the upcoming 2021 movie The Batman, Farrell may get mighty ugly if we're to believe a new leak.
What leak? — On April 20, theater actor Rob McClure appeared as a guest on Stars in the House, a daily live stream show to support The Actors Fund. The show is hosted by SiriusXM host Seth Rudetsky and his husband, producer James Wesley.
During the interview, McClure revealed the prosthetic process for the stage adaptation of the 1993 Robin Williams movie Mrs. Doubtfire. McClure recalled the prosthetic designers telling him during a test fitting, "'Oh hang on, we have to clear out this table.' And they were building the Penguin prosthetics for the new Batman movie. And I was like, 'Oh, I'm in the right place.'"
Ugly Penguin? — McClure's comments involving "the Penguin prosthetics" indicate something interesting about Matt Reeves' The Batman, due in theaters October 1, 2021. Ever since Farrell was cast as the Penguin, fans have wondered just what kind of Penguin — and what kind of Gotham City — DC Comics fans are in for with The Batman.
Was Matt Reeves going to introduce a "sexy Penguin" because of Farrell's involvement? Or will Farrell get weird and put on ample makeup to become the animalistic, Gotham City crime lord with half the city in his pocket?
McClure's comments heavily suggest it will be the latter, allowing us to glimpse a grounded and gritty Gotham City where Colin Farrell is a grotesque bureaucrat supervillain who may or may not waddle around while carrying an umbrella.
A Brief History of the Penguin — Arguably one of the most iconic Batman villains of all time, the Penguin (created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane) symbolizes Gotham City's politics and high society run afoul. A visual pun on emperor penguins, the Penguin is modeled after 20th-century political bosses whose decisions behind closed doors affected millions of people.
The Penguin is recognized for his distinct "penguin" features. His long nose is evocative of penguin beaks, while his short and round body calls to mind the waddling of penguins. In Gotham City, Penguin manages the Iceberg Lounge, an exclusive club where Gotham City's most powerful villains plan and scheme their next big play.
The Penguin in Movies — Before Colin Farrell, there have been various live-action versions of the Penguin, each of them approaching the villain in different ways. For the 1966 television series Batman starring Adam West, Burgess Meredith simply wore a vivid black and pink tuxedo and had a comically large cigarette holder permanently kept in his mouth.
For the 1992 movie Batman Returns, Danny DeVito underwent a huge transformation. Famed character arts studio Stan Winston turned the comic actor into a monstrous version of Penguin. The studio chronicled the process in a lengthy blog published in 2015.
In 2014, the Fox television series Gotham introduced Robin Taylor as a more subdued and "realistic" Penguin, with only stylized hair and a single prosthetic nose to transform the actor into the DC villain.
The Inverse Analysis — With the Penguin set to return to the big screen for the first time since Danny DeVito, Farrell's portrayal may echo DeVito's grotesque, pale Penguin. It's arguably one of the most popular images of the Penguin that's endured and even influenced the comic books and cartoons similar to how Heath Ledger's Joker changed how the character was portrayed in comics.
If McClure indeed saw a whole table full of prosthetics, that could involve a host of things including a nose, bald cap, and or even a bodysuit. It only makes sense that Matt Reeves' The Batman will keep up the most popular image of the Penguin, rather than change course with a conventionally attractive Penguin like Colin Farrell in a tuxedo.
The Batman will be released in theaters on October 1, 2021.