The fictional supervillainPenguin made his first appearance in Detective Comics #58 (December 1941) and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, but has since been substantially adapted from the comics into various forms of media, including feature films, television series, and video games.
The Penguin appears in the 1960s Batman television series, portrayed by Burgess Meredith. Spencer Tracy was originally offered the role but he said he would only accept the role if he was allowed to kill Batman. Meredith's performance is perhaps best remembered for his signature laugh, meant to mimic the squawk of a penguin. (One cause of the laugh was the cigarettes the character always smoked, which irritated Meredith's throat as he was an ex-smoker.) His thugs wear black bowler hats and dark clothing adorned with names of various animals of prey, such as birds ("Hawk") or fish ("Shark"), or sometimes simply "Henchman". His prison cell is in the "Supervillains" section next to that of Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Egghead, King Tut, and adjoining the cell of forger Ballpoint Baxter. In one episode, he claims to have been an actor. In the theatrical film spin-off, he commands a submarine painted to resemble a penguin. His given name, Oswald Cobblepot, was never used and mentioned in this series or the film; by Joker's subordinates, and even in criminal court, he is identified instead as "Mr. Penguin". He occasionally uses "Mr. P. N. Guinn" as an alias. Burgess Meredith also made a brief cameo appearance as the Penguin in the 1968 episode of The Monkees entitled "Monkees Blow Their Minds".
Robin Lord Taylor plays a young Oswald Cobblepot in the TV series Gotham, as one of the major characters in the show, and he also has been called the show's breakout character. This version of the character is a ruthless small-time criminal who, at the beginning of the series, works for mobster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). The series traces his rise to power and his journey towards becoming the Penguin. This version of the character has a complicated, love-hate relationship with fellow criminal Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). The two teamed up but also attempted to kill one another throughout the series. In the final episode, set ten years in the future, Penguin has his usual girth while wearing his typical outfit of tuxedo, top hat and monocle while teaming with the Riddler. The pair are actually captured by Batman and hung up together on a light pole.
Penguin is mentioned by Dick Grayson in the Titans episode "Donna Troy". In the episode "Barbara Gordon", his umbrella is shown in the Batcave.
Penguin is mentioned in the episode "I'll Be The Judge, I'll Be The Jury" as a former mayor of Gotham City. In "Kane, Kate", a brainwashed Kate stolen all of Batman's trophies belongs to his enemies from the Batcave which includes Penguin's umbrella. In the season 2 finale episode "Power", his umbrella was thrown into the Gotham River along with Poison Ivy's vine and the Mad Hatter's hat and seen reach onto the shore. It was revealed in the episode "Meet Your Maker" that the team reclaimed the Umbrella. In the season 3 finale episode "We Having Fun Yet?", the team used the Penguin's hypnotic umbrella to get everyone away from the target area.
In September 2021, a standalone series centered around the Penguin was reportedly in development for the streaming service HBO Max, intended to branch off from the character's appearance in the Matt Reeves film The Batman (2022). Colin Farrell, who portrayed Oswald Cobblepot in the film, signed on to reprise his role in the series that December. HBO Max subsequently ordered it as a limited series in March 2022 following the film's theatrical release. The series will be executive produced by Matt Reeves, with Lauren LeFranc serving as showrunner.
Along with the Joker, the Penguin was one of the villains appearing in the first two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies – "The Dynamic Scooby Doo Affair" and "The Caped Crusader Caper" – that were later combined on the DVD Scooby-Doo Meets Batman. He was once again voiced by Ted Knight.
The character appeared in The Batman, voiced by Tom Kenny. In this continuity, the Penguin is primarily concerned with re-establishing the Cobblepot family name in society by stealing from the citizens of Gotham to rebuild his wealth.
The Penguin appears in Harley Quinn, voiced by Wayne Knight. Debuting in "A High Bar", he throws a lavish Bar Mitzvah for his nephew Joshua (voiced by Sean Giambrone) and invites several supervillains to attend. In "The New Gotham", following Gotham and the Legion of Doom's destruction in an earthquake, he becomes a member of the Injustice League and rules a section of the remaining city. He keeps Harley Quinn frozen in ice as a trophy, but when her crew frees her, she kills him.
The Penguin appears in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, voiced by David Ogden Stiers. The plot of this movie involves the Penguin, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne in an illegal arms deal with the President of Kasnia. Of the three Batwomen, the Penguin shares a personal history with Dr. Roxanne Ballantine; he framed her fiancé Kevin years before, which led him into prison in order to find evidence that would get his sentence commuted. When Batwoman proves to be more than he expected, the Penguin hires Bane to kill her. In the aftermath however, he is arrested with Thorne and Duquesne.
The Penguin appears in The Batman vs. Dracula, with Tom Kenny reprising his role from the 2004 series. In the movie, after escaping from Arkham Asylum, the Penguin, after accidentally nicking his hand on his umbrella knife and bleeding on a corpse, accidentally resurrects Dracula in the Gotham cemetery (while in search of buried treasure). Dracula then hypnotizes the Penguin to work for him and the Joker is turned into a vampire by Dracula despite Penguin's warnings. Batman later gives the Joker and the other vampires the antidote after several tests. Penguin is later released from the spell upon Dracula's death but is arrested for attempting to steal the treasure (which is belonged to a criminal mob), and for trying to kill Vicki Vale for Dracula, and is thus returned to Arkham, since the police didn't believe his rants about "vampires with big honkin' fangs".
The Penguin appears in Batman: Assault on Arkham, voiced again by Nolan North. He is tasked by Amanda Waller to give the Suicide Squad arms, equipment, and shelter in his Iceberg Lounge for the night prior to their mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and take out the Riddler. He appears to have worked with Deadshot before and respects him as the city's best assassin, as he chooses to only work with the best, and he holds a grudge against the Joker and Harley Quinn for their having torched and sunk a truck of his cigarettes "just for a laugh", costing him a significant amount of expenses as a result. The latter bit later resulted in near disaster in the resulting meeting where he nearly shot the Suicide Squad in an attempt at executing Harley Quinn as revenge until Deadshot reminded him that such an action would reflect badly on him in the long run due to it resulting in a negative reputation of him double-crossing clients.
The Penguin appears in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, voiced by Dana Snyder. This version is more muscular and somewhat unevenly shaped as his legs are smaller than the top half of his body. He appeared to have aged a bit due to his wrinkles and graying hair, although he is still very strong. His monocle is robotic, allowing him to secretly analyze his surroundings and listen in on conversations. Tired of the scorn he receives for his looks, he decides to destroy Gotham with meteorites. To this end, he forms his Animalitia, consisting of Cheetah, Killer Croc, Silverback, and Man-Bat. He cures Man-Bat of his affliction occasionally for the genius of Kirk Langstorm, who builds animal robots to serve as the Animalitia's army. His plan ends up foiled and he escapes into a pod, which unfortunately lands in Antarctica. Snyder reprises his role as the Penguin in the sequel Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants.
The Penguin appears in The Lego Batman Movie, voiced by an uncredited John Venzon. He appears as one of the numerous villains trying to destroy Gotham City. Unlike most of his performances in film, Penguin appears as a minor character and has only a couple of lines. His sickly appearance, outfit, and pointed teeth are based on Danny DeVito's portrayal in Batman Returns. His clothes have been designed to look stretched over his stomach with the buttons about to pop, mimicking his obesity. He also has a small indent in his upper lip, showing where his pointed nose would be (most LEGO characters don't have noses).
The Penguin appears in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash, with Tom Kenny reprising his role. He prepares to fire a giant missile when Batman comes to stop him, but Batman accidentally fires his missile. Reverse-Flash comes to stop it by taking it apart and building a playground out of its parts and those of his car. He becomes the fourth of the many villains Reverse-Flash captures to win the hearts of the citizens.
The Penguin appears in the crossover film Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, voiced again by Tom Kenny. Scheming to steal the valuable technology from Wayne Enterprises, the Penguin ends up fighting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, whom they defeat him despite his weaponized umbrella. The Penguin manages to escape. He is later hired by Ra's al Ghul in an attempt to steal the same technology from a Wayne Enterprises ship, but the Shredder betrays him by killing his men and refusing to pay him, which led to The Penguin walking out in the process.
The Penguin appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame, voiced by Tom Kenny. He is one of the leaders of the Arkham breakout. His plan is to use mind-controlled penguins to wreak havoc in Gotham. To this end, he employs the Catwoman, Bane, Killer Croc, and the Man-Bat. He has the ability to call out robotic penguins from under his top hat. His submarine serves as the second boss of Chapter 2 "Power Crazed Penguin". Despite his comic book appearance, he has some ideas and characteristics of actor Danny DeVito's Penguin (e.g. taking over Gotham with a penguin army, having a liking for raw fish, and working with Catwoman). Being a Lego character, he cannot be portrayed as fat (although his clothes have been designed to look stretched with the buttons about to pop in some versions), nor does he have the Penguin's signature pointed nose.
The Penguin appears in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, voiced by Steve Blum. In the level "Arkham Asylum Antics", he rides with Bane on his mole machine along with Poison Ivy. He also appears at Gotham Zoo as an optional boss. His only dialogue (aside from one line in the intro) is squawking.
The Penguin appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by JB Blanc. His appearance is based on the Batman: Arkham version. Penguin has his own side-quest where the player has to destroy his penguins after they go out of control. He has another side quest where the player has to dress like a penguin to listen to how he was bullied during his childhood.
In all of his various appearances in the Batman: Arkham series, The Penguin is voiced by Nolan North in the main series and Ian Redford in Batman: Arkham VR. He has been redesigned without penguin-like mannerisms such as the waddle, but retains his beaked nose, short stature, and monocle, here depicted as the bottom of a glass liquor bottle, said to have been shoved into his face by the friend of a young man that Penguin was torturing after cheating at cards. Penguin says that the bottle is lodged too far into his brain and the surgery to have the bottle removed would kill him. He also speaks English with an East London dialect, which is implied in Arkham Knight to be faked or at the very least exaggerated in an attempt to appear more intimidating. He is also still obese, sickly, a heavy smoker (albeit with a cigar instead of a cigarette holder), and bald. He is repeatedly implied to suffer from a Napoleon Complex, often going to more extreme brutal measures to keep his men in line as well as trying to gain as much territory in Gotham as possible as an extension of this condition.
While the Penguin doesn't appear in Batman: Arkham Asylum, as a key character in Batman's universe he is repeatedly referenced. An asylum security guard notes that he had witnessed the attempted smuggling of sharpened umbrellas into Arkham on at least one occasion before, a reference to the character. Additionally, an Iceberg Lounge advertisement can be seen in the Intensive Treatment wards, while a collection of trick umbrellas and top hats (apparently confiscated from Penguin upon his admittance to the facility) may be observed on display in the old Arkham Mansion. He is also one of the villains whose name is listed on the party list.
The character later physically appears in Batman: Arkham City, In this game, like in the comics, Penguin is indirectly responsible for Victor Zsasz's descent into villainy, having cheated a young Zsasz out of his inheritance at a game of poker. He also wears what appears to be an electrolarynx strapped to or implanted in his neck. According to the Arkham City Stories included in the game, Cobblepot became trapped in the open-air prison perimeter of Arkham City after refusing to vacate his residence at the Iceberg Lounge (which was condemned as part of the new project). Cobblepot went on to establish himself as a kingpin in the new criminal underworld, using the nearby museum to enshrine defeated enemies, vying with the Joker and Two-Face for control of Arkham City. At the start of the game, he and his minions attack the just-incarcerated Bruce Wayne, only to have his hand broken by Wayne (which results in its being bandaged in such a fashion that it resembles one of Penguin's flipper-hands from Batman Returns). Later in the game, Batman tracks him down in order to retrieve Mr. Freeze, who Penguin is holding captive, as Freeze is the only one who knows how to cure Joker, Batman, and half of Gotham of the TITAN poison. Making matters worse is the fact that Penguin is holding several undercover cops captive. Despite his use of Mr. Freeze's freeze gun, the captive Solomon Grundy, and a rocket launcher, Penguin is ultimately defeated by Batman. Mr. Freeze adds insult to injury by locking Cobblepot in the exhibit planned for Bruce Wayne, where he remains for the rest of the game.
In Batman: Arkham Origins, a younger version of the Penguin is credited as Gotham's number one weapons dealer, using a legal loophole by staying aboard his refitted cruise liner, The Final Offer, to evade the law, while his goons make deals with the other gangs in Gotham. In order to eliminate competition with the then-reigning crime family, the Falcone mafia, he also abducts the heir, Alberto Falcone, and spent his time torturing him in order to force him, and by extension, the Falcones, to back off on the weapons racket. He is first mentioned after Batman scans a smashed recon drone found during the Blackgate riot, revealing that Penguin had been using it to spy on who he thought was Black Mask, but was really a disguised Joker. After interrogating one of his dealers, Batman makes his way to Penguin's ship. After fighting his way through Penguin's thugs, his assistant Tracey, and Electrocutioner, Batman finds and interrogates Penguin for information about Black Mask. Penguin mentions a murder in Lacey Towers but is unable to reveal more before Batman is attacked by Deathstroke. In the game, Penguin does not yet have the bottle in his eye from Arkham City meaning the accident will happen after Origins. In the DLC "Cold, Cold Heart", the Penguin's thugs are working with Mr. Freeze in his revenge mission against GothCorp CEO Ferris Boyle. Mr. Freeze had offered the Penguin weapons in exchange for his aid breaking into GothCorp, only for Penguin to betray Freeze and try to force him to give them superior weapons, culminating in Freeze trapping Penguin in a vast block of ice while Batman leaves Penguin to shiver until the police arrive. During the credits of the "Cold, Cold Heart" DLC, it was mentioned in a news voiceover that Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Ferris Boyle have been arrested by the police.
The younger Penguin later returns in the spin-off game Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate as one of the criminals released in the Breakout, having been imprisoned after the events of Cold, Cold Heart. Along with the Joker and Black Mask, Penguin takes control of one of three buildings at Blackgate; Penguin takes control of the Cell Blocks, being able to control movement around the island. He recruits any inmates not loyal to the clown or Sionis; when Bronze Tiger saves a guard from being hanged by his men, Penguin forces him to fight guards to the death in his makeshift arena in the Exercise Yard. Batman later arrives and defeats Bronze Tiger, who injures Penguin with a gun. Followed all the way to the entrance to the Arkham Wing, Penguin is soundly defeated by Batman. Penguin later escapes thanks to a guard he bribed and kills said guard as revenge for the latter's less than polite manner of rescuing him. He also implies beforehand that he could have easily left the prison at any time before the riot, but chose to stay until then because he believed it would have allowed him to expand his criminal enterprise and give him relative safety from Batman's interference due to already being locked up.
The Penguin appears in Batman: Arkham Knight. He is portrayed as "grungier" and more like a mob boss, now with a shaved head and a gold chain. Due to the warmer weather, the Penguin is seen without his long coat. He has allied himself with Two-Face while in preparation for Scarecrow's united assault on Batman and his allies. During the game, Batman receives information that Penguin knows the location of Barbara Gordon, who was kidnapped earlier by the Arkham Knight. With the help of Nightwing, he infiltrates Penguin's hideout and learns of Simon Stagg's involvement in her capture. Later, Batman and Nightwing team up to take down all of Penguin's weapon caches. He also appears as a hallucination during Joker's takeover of Batman's mind, and is gunned down alongside Two-Face, Killer Croc and the Riddler. Finally, a radio report of a museum dedicated to the Penguin as "Batman's archenemy" is heard during the Joker's nightmare about being forgotten. After all of his weapons caches are destroyed, Penguin is captured and taken to the GCPD by Batman. If he is taken down after Scarecrow is defeated, he ends up mocking Batman because his identity as Bruce Wayne has been revealed and especially because of how much trouble the Dark Knight is about to face now that everyone in Gotham knows who he is. If it was before Scarecrow's defeat, he will rub in how he nearly killed Nightwing during the last weapons cache's destruction, only to be vaguely threatened to be killed by the Dark Knight in response. Although Penguin initially tries to call his bluff, he ultimately ended up intimidated when he learned that Batman hadn't been himself that night. In the "Harley Quinn Story Pack" DLC, set before the events of the main game, Penguin communicates with Quinn over the radio guiding her through the Blüdhaven Police Department as she sets to break Poison Ivy out. In the Arkham Episode "GCPD Lockdown" taking place some time after the main game, Penguin attempts to escape imprisonment from the GCPD, but is stopped by Nightwing in the process.
Penguin appears in Telltale Games' Batman series, voiced by Jason Spisak. This iteration of the character was the childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, and is far more physically fit and less deformed than most versions of the character (the normal, obese character design is reserved for his father). He speaks with a British accent, similar to the Arkham games. Additionally, the Cobblepot family was not involved in crime or corrupt, but lost power due to the influence of Thomas Wayne and his allies. Unlike most versions of the character, Penguin gets his name from a beak-shaped gasmask he wears during his crimes, and uses gadgets and technology as opposed to birds and trick umbrellas.
In the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series, The Penguin is a member of the Children of Arkham, helping the group get revenge on the Wayne family. Though he initially warns Bruce about their revolution, he leads the group in various attacks and helps take control of Wayne Enterprises as its CEO, using his position to help fund the group and monitor Gotham. Penguin can also be partially responsible for Harvey Dent's fall from grace by disfiguring him during an attack on a mayoral debate by the Children of Arkham, should the player choose to rescue Catwoman. In the fourth episode, Penguin is able to hack into the Batcomputer, forcing the vigilante to either stop him in order protect his tech and gadgets and leave his home vulnerable to Dent and his enforcers or abandon his tech and gadgets to protect his mansion. If Oswald is defeated by Batman at Wayne Enterprises, Bruce will receive the brand new Batsuit Mark 2 to combat Lady Arkham. If Bruce Wayne confronts Oswald at Cobblepot Park (should the player give up Batman's tech to stop Dent), he can distract him to allow Lt. Gordon to destroy the box controlling Oswald's drones, allowing him to be captured.
In the second season entitled Batman: The Enemy Within, Penguin's mask and one of his devices (either his "monocle" or boxing gloves) are kept in a display in the Batcave. Also, the news reveals that Oswald pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to forty years at Blackgate Penitentiary where he is considered by the guards as a "Model Prisoner" for his charming and smart attitude. After completing the game and returning to the Batcave, it is revealed that the Penguin applied for parole only to be rejected.
The Penguin is the chief villain of an online flash game, Batman: The Cobblebot Caper, which is modeled after The Batman animated series. His ultimate plan is to construct a giant mechanical phoenix which he intends to use as a war machine against Gotham City.
The Penguin appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by David Jennison. Following Bane's defeat, a cut-scene features the Penguin stating his anger at the competition from the Falcone Crime Family, Bane, Two-Face, the Mad Hatter, Hush, Killer Croc, the Catwoman and the Joker due to all the chaos, but being a cunning crook, he plans on tricking them into wiping each other out and taking Gotham for himself. The players discover that a hacked kiosk contained a message from Two-Face describing the Penguin's smuggling operation in Gotham's old subway tunnels. The Penguin is served by are as follows, Cryo Pengbots, Louie Sluggers, Machine Gun Tommies, Nickie Blades, Pengbots, Pyro Pengbots, Tammy Two Guns and a Pengbot Maximus.
The Penguin makes a cameo appearance as a non-speaking character in Injustice: Gods Among Us sporting his Arkham City look. In the Arkham Asylum level, if one of the characters is thrown through the cell door on the right side of the second tier, they will be attacked by Two-Face, Killer Croc, Riddler, and Penguin before being punched by Croc into the next tier of the Arkham arena.
The Penguin was originally set to appear as a playable character in Injustice 2, but was scrapped and cut from the game for unknown reasons.
An 8" version of the Penguin was created by the Mego Corporation as part of their "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" line in 1974. Mego also released a 3+3/4" Penguin as a part of their Comic Action Heroes line in the 1970s.
The Lego Batman line includes one particular set, The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion, which features Penguin. He appears as a minifigure in the set, with short, unbending legs, the classic top hat and monocle and a purple pin-stripe suit, but lacks the familiar pointy nose. Penguin rides in a submarine reminiscent of the one in the 1960s TV series and is assisted by miniature penguin robots. The set also includes a depiction of the Batcave.
He also appears in the Lego Batman promotional video. He is the final villain to be caught (after Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and The Joker).
The Penguin was featured in the 1980s Super Powers Collection toy-line, featuring various DC Comics villains and heroes. The Penguin's appearance was much like that of the time, with a blue coat and top-hat. Penguin had "umbrella action" where his legs could be squeezed together, triggering his arm (holding an umbrella) to move up and down; this figure sculpt was later used for the Batman Returns figure line, with a new black paint application.
There have been various toys of the Penguin for the cartoon series, from the sophisticated aristocrat to the deformed outcast styles. For example, a limited edition The Batman Penguin action figure was made with a red coat, which he wore in just one episode. An action figure based on his Batman: The Animated Series counterpart came with several accessories, including a teacup and the first two umbrellas.
Recently the Penguin was made into a toy by Funko who made small 3+3/4" figures with large heads and also soft toy version of the Penguin. The Penguin figure looked much like he had in Burgess Meredith's style from the 1960s, along with the comic book look. The figure featured an umbrella accessory, but the plush did not. The Robin Lord Taylor figures were available with and without sunglasses. Most recently a figure was released based on Colin Farrell's portrayal of "Oz" Cobblepot was released.
Madame Alexander has made female dolls based on the Penguin, the Joker, and Harley Quinn (who is surprisingly not male) as part of its DC Fashion Squad line. While the Penguin doll resembles Danny DeVito's portrayal, the logo on the box looks more like the Burgess Meredith version. The Joker doll resembles a cross between actors Mark Hamill and the late Heath Ledger's portrayals, whereas the Harley Quinn doll has curly red and black pigtails, as well as a vintage-style dress.
^Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery", Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
^Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, Armature Studio (2013) Penguin: "I thought it'd have been easier to run my empire from in [Blackgate] than outside, where the Bat could interfere. Ah, well, I have many bases of operation in the city. How many men do we have?"