Colin Farrell Fought (And Lost) For Penguin To Have A Cigar In The Batman

We're all sensible humans who can hold two seemingly contradictory thoughts in our heads at the same time, right? On the one hand, smoking is obviously a nasty little habit in real life that can lead to debilitating health problems. On the other hand, smoking also looks indescribably cool when captured on-screen in movies or shows, having been used since the dawn of filmmaking itself to instantly add a shot of atmosphere and mood and tension to noir films, romance movies, and everything in between. And then, well, there are the times when tobacco products have been used as distinctive characteristics of certain individuals or archetypes.

Take the Penguin, for instance. Any average person on the street can probably conjure up an image of the classic Batman villain with no trouble at all, ingrained in the public imagination over the years thanks to the original comics, the 1960s "Batman" show starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader and Burgess Meredith as the umbrella-twirling Oswald Cobblepot, the beloved "Batman: The Animated Series," Danny DeVito's unforgettable performance in "Batman Returns," and even video games such as the popular "Arkham" series. Simply put, everyone knows the sinister villain comes equipped with a top hat, impeccably pressed suit, monocle, and ever-present cigarette or cigar. These are non-negotiable!

Well, they were, at least. We've known from the start that director Matt Reeves' "The Batman" would carve out its own territory altogether, a supposition further supported by the fairly stripped-down character designs for Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoë Kravitz's Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and especially Paul Dano's Edward Nigma/Riddler. Let's put it this way: once you start comparing a famously flamboyant Batman villain to real-life figures like the Zodiac killer, well, you pretty much know what kind of tone and aesthetic to expect. Reeves doubled down on this idea with his stated intent to make this a "year two" story that skirts the line between origin and standalone adventure, meaning that all of the Bat-verse of supporting characters exist ... but not quite in their most fully-formed state just yet. 

Apparently, that applies to Colin Farrell's Penguin as well, who will sadly go sans cigar in the highly anticipated blockbuster. At the very least, we can rest assured that the actor campaigned personally to make it happen before getting overruled.

George is getting upset!

In all seriousness, this obviously isn't the biggest deal at a time when so many other, far more important issues are going on ... but come on, why couldn't we have had this one fun thing? In a video interview with Jake's Takes (via Variety), actor Colin Farrell answered a question about how much more evolution his character stands to experience within the movie and, hopefully, in any follow-ups that may or may not be in the works. Specifically zeroing in on his traditionally fancy look, Farrell had this to say about that unmistakable cigar:

"Big studios make big decisions around such things as the presence of cigarettes in films. I fought valiantly for a cigar. I even, at one stage, said, 'I can have it unlit! Just let me have it unlit.' They were like, 'Nooo.' [As if] a bunch of 12-year-olds are going to start smoking Cuban cigars because [the Penguin is smoking cigars in a movie.] But I have no idea where it goes, but — pardon the pun — it's the tip of the iceberg."

Farrell recounts this all good-naturedly in the actual interview, going on to discuss more spoilery tidbits about exactly where this version of Cobblepot resides when we first meet him in "The Batman." I'll admit, it's amusing to see so much press dedicated to the character, including stories about Starbucks runs in order to test out the incredible facial prosthetics that the actor dons throughout the film. Farrell has repeatedly mentioned in the past that he only gets "five or six scenes," so maybe we can all band together and help each other get through these cigar-less, trying times. I do think it's somewhat of a missed opportunity to inject some winking fun into the proceedings, but then again I also think that — as incredible of an actor as Farrell obviously is — it was also a missed opportunity not to recruit Jason Alexander as the Penguin himself, too. I mean, just look at that picture above! We already know how convincingly (or not) the "Seinfeld" actor looks with a cigarette in his hand. I would've liked to have seen it.

"The Batman" comes to theaters on March 4, 2022.