Ranking Animated Adaptations: The Penguin


In the third installment of a series where I am ranking the different animated adaptations of Batman characters, I focus on The Penguin.  With his origin story being featured quite prominently in Gotham right now, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity.  The Penguin is one of Batman’s most well-known and long-lasting villains, first being introduced in Detective Comics #58 in 1941.  Over the years, he has become much less of a physical menace to Batman, but the threat he poses can be just as large.

More from Animation

In order for a character to qualify for the rankings, they must be featured in at least four of the following five franchises: The Timmverse, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Beware the Batman, and Batman Unlimited.  The Penguin is actually one of the rare characters that appears in all five of the franchises, however I won’t be including his Beware the Batman appearance in the rankings, as it was only a cameo.

Next: #4: The Brave and the Bold...

4. The Penguin in Batman: The Brave and the Bold

This version of The Penguin was a little bit over the top for my liking.  He was voiced by Stephen Root, but I don’t really blame him for that, since the issue is probably just poor scripts.  His biggest appearance coming in “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!”.  He uses his classic umbrella, which includes many different weapons, and he has a ton of henchmen at his disposal.  The Penguin makes quite a few appearances in this show along with other villains.  We don’t really get to see him as the crime boss that he has recently been portrayed as a lot.

Next: #3: Batman Unlimited...

3. The Penguin in Batman Unlimited

While he looks older than usual, this adaptation of The Penguin is actually fairly physically imposing.  He is the main antagonist of the direct-to-video Batman Unlimited film Animal Instincts, and he is also featured in the short “Duel With The Penguin”.  In the film, he is the leader of a group of animal-themed bad guys including Cheetah, Silverback, Man-Bat, and Killer Croc along with cyber-animals he created.  In the short, he actually gets into a sword fight with Batman, which is something I bet has never been seen before.

Next: #2: The Timmverse...

2. The Penguin in The Timmverse

The Penguin played a huge role as a Batman nemesis in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.  His first Timmverse appearance came in the classic episode “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement”.  In Batman: The Animated Series, his design was heavily inspired by Danny DeVito’s Penguin in Batman Returns, which came out the same year as the series premiered, and he orchestrated jewelry thefts.  In The New Batman Adventures, The Penguin becomes owner of the Iceberg Lounge.  Here he is less of a direct threat to Batman, but rather works behind the scenes in the underworld.  The Penguin plays a big role in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, where he allies himself with crime boss Rupert Thorne.

Next: #1: The Batman...

1. The Penguin in The Batman

I always loved Tom Kenny’s Penguin in this series.  This version of The Penguin is pretty agile and is a hands-on criminal, being backed up by the Kabuki Twins.  In his first appearance in the series, “Call of the Cobblepot”, The Penguin has birds steal jewelry, and Alfred is said to have been the former butler of the Cobblepot’s, adding a new wrinkle to the story.  Other key Penguin appearances in this series include “Night and the City” where he competes with The Joker and The Riddler to take down Batman first and in the direct-to-video film The Batman vs. Dracula, where he has a cool scene in the graveyard where he chases Vicki Vale under mind control by Dracula.

More from Bam Smack Pow

I definitely feel like The Penguin is one of the most beloved members of Batman’s rogues gallery of all time, and he has been adapted numerous times into animation to show for it.  Let me know in the comments below which animated version was your favorite and why.  Also, be sure to keep it locked to Caped Crusades for more rankings of animated adaptations!