The Penguin Trailer Teases Major Retcon to The Batman


“When I was a kid, there was a gangster, real old school type,” recalls Oswald Cobblepot at the start of the trailer for The Penguin. Anyone who has seen a gangster flick before recognizes that kind of talk. Henry Hill, Tony Soprano, Michael Corleone — wiseguys love to wax poetic about the past.

It’s no secret that the classic Batman villain was a highlight of 2021’s The Batman, with director Matt Reeves taking a more grounded approach to the bird-themed character that removed the bright colors and gimmicks. The Penguin’s storyline in the movie focused on his rise through the mob and his spinoff series will continue that tale of ascendance, as Cobblepot works to fill the void in the Gotham underworld left in the wake of Carmine Falcone’s death.

But the Penguin isn’t the only mobster from the comics who will appear or be referenced on this gangster show. There’s of course Cristin Milioti as Sofia Falcone, Carmine’s daughter and heiress as well as Clancy Brown’s Salvatore Maroni. Yet, fans focused on these big names from the comics, might not notice the even bigger bombshell in Oz’s monologue in the trailer when he names “Rex Calabrese” as one of the gangsters he admires.

If even comic book readers don’t recognize that name, they can be forgiven. Rex Calabrese is a relatively new addition to the Batman mythos. He first appeared under the alias Leo Leone in Batman Eternal #14 from 2014 as an old nemesis of the Penguin getting ready to return. As the Penguin tells it, Rex “The Lion” Calabrese ran Gotham by instilling fear in cops and criminals alike. With sharp steel teeth that he wore in his mouth, he would bite out the throat of anyone who double-crossed him.

The steel teeth might be a bit much for Reeves’ take on Gotham, but there is one element of Calabrese that could be integrated into this movie universe. For years in the comics, it was believed that the biological father of Selina Kyle aka Catwoman was Carmine Falcone, the one-time boss of Gotham City. And Reeves borrowed that plot point for The Batman, leading to a memorable confrontation between Selina (Zoë Kravitz) and Falcone (John Turturro).

But in the New 52 era of DC Comics, Selina’s rebooted origin made her Selina Calabrese, daughter of the mob boss who gets put into foster care at a young age. Raised by the Kyle family, Selina loses track of her past connections. At least until Leo Leone gets out of prison and re-establishes himself as Rex Calabrese.

At this point, it’s not entirely clear how far The Penguin will go into that aspect of the mythos. A look at the cast list suggests that the series will continue The Batman‘s tradition of pulling elements from the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale story The Long Halloween, with Sofia, Michael Zegen as her brother Alberto, and Maroni all accounted for. Kravitz has not been added to the cast, which suggests that there won’t be any big Catwoman plot points in the show.

However, if the show is going into Falcone’s family tree, surely Selina has to come up, right? And if Reeves didn’t want to address her backstory, then why choose Rex Calabrese as Oz’s role model? After all, Batman comics are full of old-timey mobsters to name drop.

So is The Penguin setting up a huge storyline for Selina where she discovers that she’s actually Rex’s daughter? Or is this just another easter egg? We’ll find out later this year.

The Penguin streams on Max in 2024.

The post The Penguin Trailer Teases Major Retcon to The Batman appeared first on Den of Geek.

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