With the Avengers and the Infinity Saga, Marvel blazed a new path. They put forth an expansive universe of serialized, interconnected stories and characters and over the course of a decade brought it all home with a spectacular finale. DC tried to keep pace by rushing their heroes together, generally botching the whole thing. Now, as Marvel expands the MCU into streaming/TV with Disney+, DC is once again following suit.
In a tuxedo.
By which I mean to say that after the Peacemaker, Jon Cena’s Suicide Squad spin-off series, and the forthcoming Gotham PD series that is springing from Matt Reeves’ new The Batman movie (March 2022), comes another Reeves’ Batverse-focused show for HBO Max. This one will be about Colin Farrell’s Penguin character, purported to only have a small role in next year’s Robert Pattinson showcase.
According to Variety, Farrell has officially signed on to the show, which is said to cover Oswald Cobblepot’s rise to the top of Gotham’s criminal underworld. This begs the questions: will it be an origin story that takes place before the events of the movie? Or will it pick up after the movie, and showcase what the trailers make look like a generic mob boss character into the supervillain we know and love?
If it does take place after the movie, does the existence of the show preclude, or at least dilute, the potential for The Penguin to menace Batman in the almost-certain-to-be-announced-immediately-after-The-Batman-opens-huge sequel? It seems unlikely that Farrell would slip out of the movies altogether, so I doubt that. One suspects the Penguin – and Farrell (if that’s actually him under all that makeup!)- will play a big role in the movies, especially if he has a minor role in The Batman, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Batman, and his rogues gallery, have been on television before, of course. From the camp classic 60s series to the many cartoon incarnations to Fox’s recent Gotham, all of which appear substantially less dark than Reeves’s movie.
Thankfully, HBO Max has fewer boundaries than network TV, or Disney+, so odds are the series will carry that same tone. Hopefully, that tone works in the movie, so we can be even more excited about DC’s new Batverse.