Let’s just get this out of the way. Yes, this first trailer for The Penguin is also the first thing HBO Max has put out under its new name, Max, which means they’ll just be calling things “Max Originals.” Yes, that sounds really dumb, but let’s not let that fact overshadow that Matt Reeves’ The Batman spinoff starring Colin Farrell looks like a dark and twisted crime thriller with little to no superhero action in it at all. It’s quite a striking take for a character often associated with umbrella machine guns and exploding birds.
The series, which is coming to (sigh) Max exclusively, sees Colin Farrell return to his role of the Penguin as he attempts to take control of Gotham City’s crime-ridden streets and become the head of all crime after the events of The Batman occur. However, the series clearly does not want to be any type of superhero story with the Penguin trailer, which mixes in some production elements, looking far more like something out of The Godfather or The Sopranos than any comic book film, even Reeves’ grounded take on Batman. Farrell’s Penguin, who got limited screen time in the film, is clearly a horrible person but not a waddling monstrosity.
It will definitely be interesting to see how people respond here. The Batman was a massive hit, but taking Batman out of the equation and making a show that’s basically a crime drama is a major gamble, even if it does connect back into future Batman films. Those films, by the way, are part of DC’s Elseworlds content, allowing for the studio, under James Gunn and Peter Safran, to create multiple film franchises in different universes, even to the point of having two Batman projects running at once.
The trailer did not come along with a release date for The Penguin, but the show will arrive in 2024.