Hey, everyone! Daniel Kisala (a/k/a DanielVoicesComics) here. Boy, it truly is a great time to be a fan. Just when you think we can’t have it any better, things go and actually do get better. Exponentially better. From the white-hot and well deserved success of HBO’s The Last of Us to the recent reveal of the exciting plans for Chapter One of the now in development DCU (or DC Cinematic Universe), there really is something for everybody to look forward to. Marvel. Star Wars. Star Trek. Our beloved icons from so many of our beloved properties will be appearing in new visionary stories both on our television sets and in our cinemas well into the foreseeable future. As I’m sure a great many of you know, one such property is about to expand and deepen its live-action universe in unprecedented ways. I am of course referring to none other than Matt Reeves’ The Batman universe. Not only are we officially getting The Batman, Part II in just two short years, but we are getting an eight-episode live-action series on HBO centered on none other than Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, a/k/a….The Penguin. And the latter is coming even sooner (about a year from now). The Penguin, said to pick up its story one week after the conclusion of 2022’s The Batman, is sure to be a fascinating character study of the Man Called Oz, but will also serve as a bridge, if you will, to The Batman, Part II. We shall be privy to a depth of world-building the kind of which you simply cannot get within the time constraints of a motion picture. Needless to say, at least for me, my levels of anticipation are through the roof of my humble East Orlando abode and beyond.
Based on what information we presently have, I’ve been wondering where the plot might go over the course of the HBO series leading into the second film. For when last we left Gotham City, it was still wracked with flooding and devastation in the wake of The Riddler’s attack. Rescue and rebuilding operations were just getting underway. Batman was starting to emerge as less a figure of vengeance than a beacon of hope. A mob boss under whose thumb Gotham had rotted over many years was now dead. And a wonderful shot of Oswald Cobblepot graced the screen; the mobster better known to the world at large as The Penguin was alone within the quiet, flooded confines of the Iceberg Lounge, gazing out from one of its many great windows at the dawn skyline of Gotham City. A Gotham City that was to be his…and his alone. Cobblepot’s conquest of DC’s infamous concrete jungle will be the focus of HBO’s upcoming series, as will no doubt be the pivotal transitional state the city finds itself in. Where, oh where does this sprawling tale go from here?Actress Cristin Milioti’s casting as Sofia Falcone, daughter of the murdered mafia chieftain, The Godfather himself, Carmine Falcone, may well have provided us with a significant clue. In the seminal classic comic, Batman: The Long Halloween, Carmine Falcone is shot and killed by Two-Face, marking a significant turning point in the battle for Gotham between the mob and the rising “freak” criminal element. In the sequel,
Batman: Dark Victory, a vengeful Sofia sets out to find and execute Two-Face for the murder of her father. Now, here we are at the conclusion of The Batman, which sees Falcone publicly murdered with a sniper’s bullet by the Riddler rather than by Dent (who we have yet to officially meet in this universe). With Falcone’s killing, a massive hole has been torn in the once seemingly impenetrable wall of Gotham’s underworld, a slew of would-be successors vying for anointment as the new boss of all bosses. By the time the credits roll, The Riddler is locked away in Arkham Asylum, getting acquainted with fellow resident, The (at present fledgling) Joker, always the wildly unpredictable variable in any equation.
So yes, we will, no doubt, witness Oswald Cobblepot’s inevitable rise to power, getting to know him better, taking his villain’s journey alongside him, seeing perhaps his humanity and vulnerabilities juxtaposed with his capacity for cruelty and machiavellian self-servingness. After all, the series is called The Penguin. That said, any compelling tale set in Gotham has a tremendous ensemble rife with key players beyond its protagonist. (Side note: When the Iceberg Lounge is rebuilt, will it perhaps boast a little bit more of an Arctic-inspired theme?)
We may also witness Sofia use all of her resources to get to and kill The Riddler in Arkham. This potential chain of events could quite possibly somehow serve as a major catalyst for a bloody, all-out battle for supremacy between the freaks and gangsters of Gotham City. Maybe Oswald takes advantage of the disarray the criminal infrastructure of the city finds itself in and plays both sides as The Joker, Riddler, and the criminally insane populace at Arkham band together to take out Sofia and her crew. Then again do we see a guy like Joker willingly banding with anyone at all? Perhaps, especially if it serves him in some way. While a return appearance by the Clown Prince is far from confirmed if I were a betting man I’d nonetheless wager that it’s highly likely.
Then, there is another mafia boss waiting in the wings: Salvatore Maroni, to be played by a beloved character actor, known and revered by many DC fans as the voice of Lex Luthor, Clancy Brown. I do wonder if the series might take a page from the comics, which saw ol’ Sally and Sofia become lovers. Should that happen, it would seem Maroni would at least temporarily align himself with Sofia in this brewing Gotham gang war. Now, I suppose the mention of Sal Maroni’s name begs the question for at least some of us: Will Harvey Dent be introduced in the series? If not, we will surely meet him in The Batman, Part II, won’t we? How will Dent ultimately figure into all of this? There is much to consider as we gear up for the continuation of The Batman saga. Matt Reeves has been clear that Long Halloween will serve as inspiration (not a literal adaptation) for the proceedings. He has also described his sequel in three words: “Epic crime drama.” Long Halloween is, without question, absolutely that. But Long Halloween influence or none, it would just make sense that Sofia would want to avenge her father and go after the Riddler. It would make sense that the conflict between a mob boss’s daughter and a costumed serial killer would escalate into a conflict between the
mob and a growing legion of, shall we say, “colorful” psychotics. Batman, Gordon, and eventually Dent would no doubt have their hands full.
Speaking of The Batman and his growing rogues’ gallery of freaks. chances are that he will one way or another be seen by many as a major cause–if not the cause–of the emergence of the costumed villains, a theme that Reeves also discussed the exploration of. The Riddler did tell Bats that he was inspired by him. It goes without saying that so too will other villains on the rise. If you will recall, we saw this whole theme of escalation touched upon in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy; it would appear that this whole idea will be given far more depth than previously seen, which yours truly is absolutely here for. Really, it could most assuredly be argued that the presence of the more creative criminal types in the city stems from the inevitable repercussions of Batman’s war on crime, regardless of whatever noble intentions he may possess. This is something Bruce Wayne, in his single-mindedness, would never have accounted for, of course.
So, after all of this discourse, let me just outline what I think can begin and start to percolate in The Penguin series, come to a boiling point, and spill over into The Batman, Part II….and, I’m confident, The Batman, Part III.
- Sofia seeks vengeance against Riddler, who ends up under the protection of Joker (maybe; dude’s a wild card) and other Arkham inmates; serves as a catalyst for gangsters -vs- freaks.
- Penguin plays both sides for his own gain. Through Penguin’s eyes, we witness the prelude to Reeves’ epic crime drama.
- Maroni vies for control of Gotham, forms temporary alliances for his own self-interests; has an affair with Sofia (uses her?)
- The ethical and moral implications of Batman’s mission are challenged.
- The birth of Two-Face will eventually happen…..not, perhaps, until The Batman, Part III.
Whatever is in store for us, it’s bound to be the stuff of legend, a portrayal of Gotham City as a modern-day Wild West, a metropolis buckling under the weight of corruption and ever-evolving criminality and wickedness. But in its darkest of hours, a creature of the night and a precious few allies will rise to see it through to its dawn. The scale of the ongoing, perpetual battle to save Gotham’s soul will be realized in a way we have yet to see in any live action medium.
Agree with any of this? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!