The Penguin: Everything We Know About Colin Farrell's HBO Max DC Series

Matt Reeves may be planning his Batman film saga as a trilogy, but that doesn't mean we'll only be seeing his take on Gotham City inside those films. Spin-off films and TV series are in the works, which will highlight all the villains who make up Batman's rogues gallery; the Scarecrow, Clayface, and Professor Pyg have been mentioned as potential stars.

The spin-off furthest along in production stars Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. Farrell had a supporting role in "The Batman," with Penguin (or "Oz" as he prefers) being the right-hand of crime lord Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). With his boss out of the picture, Oz is looking to become Gotham's new kingpin. The Penguin's club, the Iceberg Lounge, was also featured as a recurring setting in "The Batman," albeit reimagined from a high-class crib into an underground rave spot.

Farrell himself, hidden behind unflattering make-up, played the Penguin differently than the past live-action iterations. Here, he's a Brooklyn-accented gangster, the kind who feels like he'd be played by Joe Pesci 30 years earlier. This is totally different from the Penguin played by Burgess Meredith, a high-class supervillain, or Danny DeVito, a deformed outcast. Viewers will get a chance to see Farrell's Penguin explored more in-depth in this spin-off series.

What we think The Penguin is about

"The Penguin" will carry on from the end of "The Batman," where Gotham was flooded thanks to the machinations of the Riddler (Paul Dano). Oz, with water up to his feet, was last seen looking out from a skyscraper at a city ripe for the taking. "The Penguin" will open one week after the flooding of Gotham in "The Batman" – Farrell confirmed the pilot script he got "opens up on my feet splashing through the water in Falcone's office." 

As a story about a gangster rising to the top, comparisons have been drawn to "Scarface," with the Penguin in the role of Tony Montana. It's up in the air if Oz will pull the "Say hello to my little friend" move with a trick umbrella. 

Also casting a shadow over "The Penguin" is another gangster named Tony — Tony Soprano, specifically. Released photos of Farrell in costume on the set of "The Penguin" have drawn comparisons to the late, great James Gandolfini's most famous role.

When and where can you watch The Penguin?

"The Penguin" was first announced in September 2021, ahead of the release of "The Batman" in March 2022. From the onset, it was confirmed to be an HBO Max project, and that's where the series will be streaming. However, despite the lengthy production timeline, there's still no word yet on a release date. The series began shooting in New York City on February 6, 2023, and the shoot is still ongoing. Assuming everything stays on schedule, a Q4 2023 release or a Q1 2024 release both sound plausible.

So, who's in charge of that shoot? "The Penguin" is being created by Lauren LeFranc, a career TV writer/producer with credits on "Chuck," "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," "Hemlock Grove," and "Impulse." The first three episodes, out of eight total, will be directed by Craig Zobel. An apprentice of David Gordon Green, Zobel has films under his belt including "Z For Zachariah" and "The Hunt." In 2021, Zobel directed all seven episodes of the HBO Max mini-series "Mare of Easttown." He renewed his contract with HBO in 2021 for three years and "The Penguin" will be his next project for the network.

What we know about the cast of The Penguin

The series has assembled quite a supporting cast. The first announced was Cristin Milioti as Sofia Falcone, daughter of Carmine (and half-sister of Selina Kyle, though it's unclear if that will factor into the series). Sofia will be vying against Oz to take control of her father's criminal empire. It's rumored her brother Alberto (in the comics suspected of being the "Holiday" serial killer) will also appear, played by Michael Zegen.

Crime boss Salvatore Maroni was mentioned throughout "The Batman" as the victim of a drug bust that set Falcone up to rule Gotham. Maroni will be rearing his head again in "The Penguin," played by DC veteran Clancy Brown. It's unclear if Maroni will side with Oz, the Falcones, or be in it for himself. It's just as big a question mark if his appearances will be while he's behind bars.

Other actors cast in "The Penguin" include Michael Kelly ("House of Cards"), Shohreh Aghdashloo ("The Expanse"), Deirdre O'Connell ("Law and Order"), Rhenzy Feliz ("Encanto"), Theo Rossi ("Sons of Anarchy"), James Madio ("Gilmore Girls"), and Scott Cohen ("Band of Brothers"). 

How to prepare for The Penguin

The most obvious way to prepare for "The Penguin" is to watch "The Batman." If you've already seen it, then you can enjoy a refresher. If you haven't seen "The Batman" yet, I'm not sure why you'd be interested in "The Penguin," but regardless that film will be the foundation this series builds on.

There's plenty of Batman source material beyond just the 2022 movie, though. Reeves drew influence from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Batman stories — "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory" — with how he depicted Carmine Falcone's control of Gotham. Those books feature the Falcone children and Maroni in important roles, so reading them would be a good way to familiarize yourself with those characters.

To get a sense of Colin Farrell's talent, I'd watch "The Banshees of Inisherin," featuring an Oscar-nominated turn by the Irish actor. Farrell's character, the dully softspoken but kindhearted Padraic, could not be more different from Oz, but that's only a testament to Farrell's acting capability.

Cristin Milioti has made herself a name primarily in comedy, such as the underrated gem "Palm Springs," a "Groundhog Day" riff where multiple people become stuck in the time loop. Like Farrell as Oz, Sofia Falcone promises to be an against-type performance for Milioti. Clancy Brown is one of the best character actors alive, but if you want a more recent, substantive part from him, he played the main villain on "Dexter: New Blood."

"The Penguin" will stream on HBO Max at a to-be-announced date.