After having watched The Batman, it’s no surprise that vigilante fans went looking for anything plot-related. One of the first things they learned was the Batman: The Animated Series, which remains one of DC’s greatest animated shows. One reason is the portrayal of infamous villains beyond just committing crimes and turning them into lovable and sometimes even likable characters. One of these characters is one of Batman’s oldest enemies, the Penguin.
Interestingly, this version of Oswald Cobblepot (voiced by Paul Williams) didn’t have as many episodes as other big-name villains, such as Joker and Two-Face; however, he made an impact regardless with his refined dry wit and even some rather heartbreaking moments. These are best expressed with some of his best lines in the entire series.
Penguin trashes an art gallery
“Sorry for the intrusion, sir, but at least you got trashed by a man of impeccable taste.”
The Penguin is sometimes portrayed as a posh gentleman thief, and the B:TAS version of the Penguin is no exception. At the start of “Birds of a Feather”, the Penguin is seen robbing an upscale art gallery with his henchmen.
It’s pretty neat that he flies into an art gallery and passes out over his favorite painting. But what sets the Penguin up wonderfully as a gentleman thief is the way he apologizes to the bound and gagged art curator and assures him that he has “been robbed by a man of impeccable taste. “.
Penguin Umbrella Trick
“Damn! I’ll grab the wrong umbrella.”
The episode, “Almost Got ‘Im”, remains one of the show’s best episodes of all time. It revolves around some of Batman’s most infamous foes telling each other how they almost caught Batman one-on-one during a game of poker.
Penguin begins the story of his scheme by “accidentally” spraying Batman with seemingly harmless gas from his umbrella. Although ultimately a trick, it’s one of the Penguin’s funniest quotes due to how perfectly it reflects his signature umbrella arms and Williams’ brilliant, sleek delivery of the line.
The penguin’s disdain for interior design
“Destroying this place could only make it better.”
The Penguin can act politely in what he considers respectful company, but he’s not afraid to voice his opinions about taste. A low-key but amusing example is when he and his henchmen break into and enter a suburban home where a precious Fabergé egg is hidden.
Once inside, the Penguin dismissively calls the interior decor “bourgeois”, commenting that tearing up the house to find the egg “could only make it better”. For someone who claims to be a gentleman, he can certainly be very insulting to and from others.
The ironic ways of the penguin
“Gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, after you.”
Like any successful crime boss in Gotham, the Penguin has henchmen and henchmen to help him carry out his dirty work. But while he may be refined in his manners, that doesn’t mean he treats his minions with the slightest respect.
In one of B:TAS Admittedly weird episodes, “I have a bat in my basement”, the Penguin hires two henchmen called Jay and Raven to help him steal a Fabergé egg and ultimately retrieve it from two children protecting Batman. After unlocking the door, the Penguin steps aside to let his henchmen enter first to check for traps. The dry, dismissive sarcasm towards his henchmen is both appropriate and amusing for the snobbish trickster.
The penguin throws a tantrum
“I wanted the rare ones! The Audubon reversed!”
Some of Batman’s Rogues can be known to throw almost childish but amusing tantrums if their henchmen get it wrong or if Batman comes out on top. The Penguin, as refined and controlled as he may think compared to his peers, is sometimes no exception.
One particularly smirk-inducing moment is his reaction to learning that his henchmen missed a robbery and stole a collection of low-value stamps instead of “the rare ones” Penguin wanted. The anger is only made funnier when he throws the stolen stamps to the ground while seated on some sort of throne.
Don’t insult the birds in front of the penguin
“Do you find pigeons funny, my friend?”
A notable aspect of the Penguin is his fondness for birds. In the anime series, he not only shows affection to them, but he uses them for his schemes. In fact, he shows them more respect than his human sidekicks.
In the episode “Blind as a Bat”, the Penguin and his minions hijacked a military helicopter. While threatening the civilians with it, the pilot laughs, commenting that they run around like “frightened pigeons!” The Penguin isn’t too amused, however, and his response above is delivered in such cold tones that the frightened pilot immediately shuts up.
“All I wanted from you, darling, was a little friendship! It wouldn’t have cost you anything!”
“Birds of a Feather” is arguably the best Penguin episode on the show, and one of the main reasons is that it reveals the Penguin to be one of Batman’s villains who could have truly reformed.
The Penguin had good intentions of putting his criminal past behind him after his release from prison, but it’s set even more in stone when he falls in love with socialite Veronica Vreeland. The moment he finds out his affections were a ruse is pretty heartbreaking, and that line is a rare moment of true Penguin hurt across the Batman franchise as a whole.
Lines that will not be crossed
“I’ll never take another thief out of his sickbed. It’s just not done.”
One aspect that sets the Penguin apart from other villains is that he is not as brutal in his crimes as Batman’s greatest enemies and is usually sent to Blackgate Penitentiary rather than Arkham Asylum. . So it’s only natural that there are lines the Penguin won’t cross like other villains would.
A notable example is when Batman confronts him about Two-Face being kidnapped from the hospital. The Penguin denies this with the line above, showing that the Penguin may be a criminal but he certainly has a code of honor and dignity. However, that doesn’t stop him from pushing Batman out of his window right past that line.
A flair for the dramatic
“Just because you worldly miscreants have no drama in your souls! Anyway, there it was in my Av… Uh, Big Birdhouse…”
“Almost Got ‘Im” is one of the funniest episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and a moment in the Penguin story helps confirm it. Penguin is interrupted in his story by Poison Ivy and Joker mocking him for the “corny” name of his birdhouse: the “aviary of destiny”.
The penguin’s feathers are ruffled from the teasing of his comrades and he proclaims the above before continuing with his story, reluctantly calling it a “big birdhouse instead”. It’s not just a hilarious Penguin character climax, but a wonderful humanizing moment for the Batman villains as they play cards and tease each other harmlessly.
The real villain of the story
“I guess it’s true what they say. Society is to blame. High society.”
The end of “Birds of a Feather” is hard-hitting but thought-provoking commentary. After his loss to Batman, Penguin is arrested again and Veronica apologizes to Penguin for his behavior, commenting on how much she was really starting to like him. However, Penguin responds bitterly with the above line.
The episode and this quote can be seen as an apt commentary on how the upper classes can sometimes be cruel to those they deem unworthy. In Batman’s world, villains aren’t always costumed misfits, but can also be found among the civilians of Gotham.
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