So we are-as of the date of this post-six episodes into Fox’s new Batman origin series, Gotham. I’ve gotta say that so far I’m really enjoying it. The episodes this first season have been predominantly following the development of Detective James Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot (who we all know is Penguin.) But about two weeks ago I heard about an article posted on reddit with a crackpot theory that Cobblepot is actually none-other than Batman’s greatest nemesis the clown prince himself. I immediately laughed it off but I kept seeing articles and blog posts popping up ever since with everyone stating multiple arguments to that affect. It’s built up so much steam that even the producers and writers themselves have come forward responding to the rumors… in a very compelling way.
Some of the arguments from fans are petty and based on pure aesthetics. Actor Robin Lord Taylor is a tall, lanky dude and Penguin has always been short and fat (at least since the early 1990s after Danny DeVito brilliantly played the roll.) But to that I say two things: one is that in the pilot episode, Cobblepot had his knee crushed has been limping very Penguin-esque ever since. Secondly is that stories get re-imagined and given new visual interpretation all the time. I’ve argued both sides of this coin tirelessly for a number of different reasons. Plus, who’s to say that over the years Cobblepot can’t fatten up as he ages like I have? Even though Penguin has been more of a thief and gang leader than cold-blooded killer as the show so far has made him out to be, remember that this is an origin story for everyone, not just Bruce Wayne. Maybe these characters started out attempting one aspect of a life of crime (or even a normal life,) but then transition/fall into another.
The primary conspiracy theory among fans is that Cobblepot actually hires a kid/someone else to be him (Penguin) while the real Cobblepot disappears from Gotham to transform into what we all know and love as The Joker when he returns. Showrunner Bruno Heller said, “We’re not going to skimp on giving people the characters they want and expect from Gotham. But when and how they’re going to show up is half the fun.”
My opinion is that it’s all smoke and mirrors for nothing. I think Cobblepot is really Penguin and more time has to go by for him to solidify himself to that role in what he is known for in the Batman universe. I’m also still trying to find a pattern or blatant clues over who The Joker is and how he will be introduced. Let’s not forget that the pilot episode had a stand-up comedian character who easily fits the physical description to all the purists out there. Could that have been The Joker?
Over the years of my writing about these topics, I find myself in an interesting position as half purist and half open to the idea of creative originality when it comes to a topic that has such a cult following and history. If… IF it turns out that Oswald Cobblepot is actually The Joker, the purist in me would be furious but at the same time, I’d salute the writers and developers for taking the ballsy and completely outside the box approach. Supposedly each episode gives us a chaos theory/Occam’s razor paradigm narrative to not only the introduction of Joker, but also the more obvious multi-layered development in what eventually transforms young Bruce Wayne into The Dark Knight.
I see myself continuing to write about this show as the series goes on when major plot points, rumors, and cliffhangers occur. What say all of you? Do you think Penguin is really The Joker?