Posts Tagged ‘Penguin’

The Penguin

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Character
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 Short, fat, and sometimes disfigured The Penguin is not only a nemesis of Batman, but to Bruce Wayne as well, as Oswald Cobblepot.

The Penguin has been pulling off bird inspired heists for decades at this point. Thwarted by Batman on the regular, however recently Penguin was promoted to a boss of crime of Gotham City. Which I think is great, it gives him more flavor in his character and opens him up for some new dimensions in stories, if that’s where they take it.

That aspect gives Batman more into to the seedy underbelly of Gotham, a place The Dark Knight is at his best. Busting lowlife thugs in back alleys. Now The Caped Crusader has a savage, ruthless foe that might not take the businessman like approach what a “regular” wannabe mobster boss might do.

There was also a push to have the man Oswald Cobblepot be a rival of Bruce Wayne in daylight society. Which was cool. The New 52 version of Penguin has him owning a legitimate night club,  a front to doing illegal things. Not a new idea, the animated series did something similar with Oswald,  but it’s an interesting alternative to just him being professional bird pun crimesman.

Recently, Cobblepot had some run-ins with Harvey Bullock breaking into his club and accusing Oswald of hiring The Scarecrow to kill some people.

The current television representation of The Penguin on Gotham might be the best thing about the show. Robert Lord Taylor’s characterization is spot on.

Of the many incarnations of the character, The Animated Series might be my favorite, Danny Devito in Batman Returns is the creepiest, and Burgess Meredith is fun and lighthearted.

Being one of Batman’s oldest foes The Penguin has been around for a long time, and will be there in the future to try to stop Batman.

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Batman 1966

Posted: November 10, 2014 in Television
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Ok. I have alluded to, compared with and contrasted against this so many times by now, let me tell you about it.

First off, if you’ve never watched the show because you were too young, or missed the countless re-airings and repeats since then, at least watch the 1966 Batman movie this show is based on. If you never watched it because you thought it was too campy and had cheap special effects, all I can say is, think about it in a satirical sense. It’s not trying to be dark, or gritty. In fact, I’m positive the death of Bruce’s parents only gets mentioned in one of early episodes off-handed, then never again. And I don’t ever recall anything happening to the Grayson’s. The show is a light-hearted affair, nothing wrong with that.

It was produced in a time when the Comics Code Authority was in place. Think of the CCA much like how the MPAA regulates film, except with comics for a long time there was no system of ratings, just a pass or fail. With strict guidelines. Such as good guys were good guys, villains were bad and you couldn’t establish reasons why the bad guys were against the law. Authority figures like the police and military were always on the right side of the law. No matter what. The Code threw away a lot of potentially interesting conflicts in stories. Even having giant monsters from outer space smash a police squad car was forbidden, because the inanimate vehicle was seen as a point of authority and the big alien could be interpreted as disrespecting it.

That explains a whole lot. Why is Batman walking around in broad daylight having a surfing contest with The Joker. Because the hero could not be seen to be anything less than being the most upstanding citizen setting an example for the youths, and only creeps and thugs stalk around in the dark. Why could we never see any major villain’s motivations? Because you might be able to relate to their strife and agree with what they’re doing. Which then would lead down to a path of going against authority, putting bad ideas into children’s heads. I’m sure these are the reasons why Robin was treated to be younger than college going age, even though in the run of the show it was brought up countless times he was going to a University. Catwoman was allowed to skirt some lines when she was flirting with Batman, but Batman never chose to do anything outside of the law in the end.

All that aside, the show itself is a weird television program. Early on the show relied on The Riddler and Penguin an awful lot, but staples of Batman’s army of villains made appearances, the aforementioned Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and Joker being chief among them. It was almost like they were on rotation. Oh sure, there were others, King Tut, Egghead, and The Cavalier were some of the off beat creeps thrown in to mix things up, and then rarely seen from again. But if you took a list of all the episodes and threw a dart into it, Burgess Meredith would have a high chance of appearing in the episode.

Episodes of the first two seasons were broken up into two parts, leaving a cliffhanger at the end of the first part. They usually involved the Dynamic Duo in a peril, like being on the business end of a giant mouse trap, or some such other crazy situation, one time Robin got eaten by a giant clam. All of them dangerous situations, some of them hilariously dangerous. All of them solved within five minutes of the second part.

With the release of the entire series on Blu-Ray tomorrow, you should think about taking a look. Maybe not a hundred and seventy-five dollar look, but look into maybe the 1966 movie is streaming on one of the services you subscribe to? Start there, that’s only a ninety minute commitment on something you already have. Just don’t watch it and think you’re getting a dark tale from Gotham. Have some fun with Batman for once.

Batman Returns

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Movie
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The sequel to the 1989 Tim Burton Batman is better than the it’s predecessor. Michelle Pfieffer as Selina Kyle slash Catwoman is a far more interesting love interest to Bruce Wayne slash Batman than photojournalist Vicky Vale. Danny DeVito’s Penguin is as grotesque as you think it should be in a Tim Burton movie, and the movie has Christopher Walken as Max Shreck a second antagonist to Catwoman along with Batman. Christopher Walken is pretty much a real life comic book character already.

Origins of the Penguin aren’t to out-of-place for him. Oswald Cobblebot’s wealthy parents reject their disfigured baby, and send him down Gotham River one dark cold night in a basket. He floats down and grows up in the sewer rescued by Gotham City Zoo penguins.

Catwoman’s beginnings are a little on the dumb side. Selina Kyle is a secretary to Max Schrek, who is a real jerk to her. One night Selina’s in the office late and discovers something about her boss. When she confronts him, Max throws her out a window. Remarkably not dying from the fall, cats come and lick her wounds and transform her. Maybe they were mystic cats from magic land, the movie is a little light on those details.

One good thing about Batman Returns is, Batman actually fights one of his foes in this movie. The Joker and Penguin pose no real physical threat to The Caped Crusader, but Catwoman puts up a worthy fight. She, at one point, even gets close under the Batsuit and gets her claws into Batman’s side.

Then there’s this point in the fight were Batman is on his back and Catwoman climbs on top of him then says something and licks his face. As a child I thought that was weird, As an adult I think, yeah, no, that is gross.

Plot gets a little crazy. The Penguin runs for mayor with the help of Shreck. That gets up ended when the brilliant part of the Penguins feud with Batman leads him to take over control of the Batmobile, which doesn’t make The Dark Knight flinch at all, and instead when Penguin is prattling on about how stupid the citizens of Gotham are, Batman makes a record of the speech. Of which Bruce Wayne waits until Cobblepot makes a public speech and patches in the recorded audio, moving a CD back and forth, much like he was scratching a vinyl record. That bit seems out-of-place, and I’m seventy-nine percent sure they knew you couldn’t do that back in 1992 as well.The Selina Kyle romance part is alright. As Catwoman she allies with the Penguin to get rid of The Bat, and as Selina Kyle she dates Bruce Wayne. Selina gets double crossed by Cobblepot, as if that wasn’t going to happen, and at a Christmas party finds out Bruce Wayne is Batman during a dance with him. She then decides not kill him because Bruce has business deals with her boss. After that she decides to take it easy on Bruce and focus on Shreck, the man who tried to kill her.

In the end I thought this was a good movie, I still watch it every few years or so. If you liked the first Batman, I can’t imagine you havent seen this already, and if you have not seen either, you don’t really need to see the first one if you know where Batman comes from.