The Batman: Colin Farrell's Penguin Was Inspired By Fredo In The Godfather

Batman at Christmastime? Well, that's not completely unheard-of, but today is rapidly turning into a mini Batman Day thanks to the new issue of Empire magazine unloading a batch of new quotes and pictures for Matt Reeves' upcoming "The Batman." Thanks to Empire, we previously brought you the fun tidbit that star Zöe Kravitz turned to footage of actual cats to help her figure out the precise movements for the character of Catwoman and also further confirmation that Paul Dano's Riddler can trace his visual design and thematic relevance back to the infamous Zodiac killer. To round out the trio of supporting characters in this film, Reeves has weighed in on perhaps the one casting that had tongues wagging the most — Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin.

Not only did his remarkable transformation lead to countless social media comments expressing incredulity that the man behind that scarred and prosthetically-enhanced mug was actually Farrell, but he arguably stole the show in the final moments of the last "The Batman" trailer when the cackling villain thinks he's taken out Robert Pattinson's Batman for good ... only to have the tables turned on him as the Batmobile flies out of the explosion and drives Cobblepot off the road. According to Reeves, inspiration for the Penguin comes from a long line of cinematic gangster media that includes "The Godfather," "The Sopranos," and more. 

A Fracture at his Core

Thus far, we've mostly only seen Oswaldo Cobblepot looking intimidating or, well, being intimidated by an out-of-control Batman. Despite Colin Farrell's previous quotes that fans shouldn't expect much more than a brief supporting role for the Penguin, it's also safe to say that the marketing has held back on much of his presence in the film. For example, we've only received a hint as to his actual personality through a few lines of dialogue. In Empire magazine's issue dedicated to "The Batman," Matt Reeves lays out the influences for how he decided to bring this character to life, which reportedly includes Bob Hoskins from "The Long Good Friday" and Tony Soprano from, you guessed it, "The Sopranos":

"There's a touch of John Cazale as Fredo in 'The Godfather.' He's a mid-level mobster guy and he's got a bit of showmanship to him, but you can see that he wants more and that he's been underestimated. He's ready to make his move."

This description alone paints this version of Cobblepot as someone who has a massive chip on his shoulder and possibly even something of an inferiority complex. Farrell backs this up, saying:

"[Matt Reeves] mentioned Fredo to me, because Fredo's crippled by the insignificance that he lives within, in a family that is full of very strong, very bright, very capable, very violent men. Which is why he commits the act of betrayal that he does, because he's weak, he's kind of broken, and he's in pain. There is a kind of fracture at the core of Oz, which fuels his desire and his ambition to rise within this criminal cabal. Where that rise goes ... I would love to get to explore that in the second film, if that was ever to happen."

A complex psychology and inner conflict are all well and good ... but here's what Farrell had to say about that fat suit: "Matt had seen the character as classically somewhat portly, rotund, whatever the word. I'd just finished 'The North Water,' which I'd put on weight for, and Matt said, 'You look great!' I thought, 'Well f***in' say goodbye to it because I'm about to hit the treadmill. I need to get me health back.'"

"The Batman" hits theaters on March 4, 2022 and you can pick up your copy of Empire's February 2022 issue on December 23, 2021.