In the last few years, there have been too many movies and cartoons about Joker that most people have forgotten about Penguin, one of the best villains in Batman comics. Hopefully, this will all change with 2022, the Batman movie, where Collin Farrell did a wonderful job portraying this maniacal character.
Despite not being in the limelight, I was always curious about the character. His backstory is rather intriguing. Although he has some knowledge of martial arts, his main weapon is his brain. Penguin is a masterful tactician and battlefield leader and has a unique power that allows him to control birds.
In this Batman vs. Penguin guide, I will analyze how the two characters match against each other, and I will talk about their fights in media.
Key Info Up Front
Batman vs. Penguin represents one of the longest-lasting rivalries in Batman comics. The two of them are completely opposite characters, with Batman relying on strength, discipline, and high-tech, while Penguin is reliant on his amazing intellect and strategic knowledge.
The two of them fought numerous times, with Batman taking a decisive victory in the majority of cases. However, that doesn’t mean that Penguin cannot beat the Dark Knight. In fact, I will go on to say that Penguin is one the Batman’s biggest treats in the comics.
Main Differences between Batman and Penguin
As mentioned, these are very two different characters, so there are some stark differences in terms of their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses:
- Batman is considered a superhero who possesses peak human conditioning, while Penguin is just the opposite. Batman is very strong, fast, and durable, with amazing metabolism, reflexes, senses, and metabolism. On the other hand, Penguin is portrayed as a chubby character, and he reminds me a lot of Mr. Monopoly.
- Penguin has a rare ability to control avian creatures, which is something that Batman cannot do. In fact, this trait is quite unique for comic books, and, at times, it can feel both funny and awkward
- Batman is considered a master of disguise and a capable spy, compared to Penguin, who is easily recognizable in public. In fact, Batman’s ability to blend into various social situations is the reason why he is able to keep his secret.
- Batman possesses incredible will and discipline, something that Penguin doesn’t have. Although Penguin is very persistent in his own way, his mental resilience cannot compare to that of Batman.
- Batman has a major flaw, and that is his reluctance to kill, which is not a problem for Penguin. He often puts himself and his allies in dangerous positions just because of his trait.
- Batman doesn’t fight well against dogs, compared to Penguin. This is something that wasn’t explored enough in comics, but it is an interesting tidbit.
- Penguin is extremely insecure compared to Batman. He hates when people laugh at him, and he is constantly looking for the affection of beautiful women as a way of affirming himself. On the other hand, Batman is very confident, especially around ladies.
While these two characters have numerous differences, they also have lots of similarities. Despite his physique, Penguin is actually a very good combatant. He is proficient with various martial arts, similar to Batman. However, he is not as strong and flexible as his nemesis, which is why he often loses in direct clashes.
Both of these characters are very intelligent and great businessmen. Although Batman is shown as a person that has inherited his wealth, he had to work a lot to maintain control of Wayne Enterprises after his parent’s deaths.
Similar can be said about Penguin, who owes his success to the ability to run numerous shady businesses. He even won a Gotham election which, in my opinion, is one of the coolest things that a comic book villain did.
See also: Ultimate Guide to Batman Toys
Analyzing Individual Powers
In many ways, these characters have similar combat styles. They are both proficient in martial arts and utilize numerous weapons to overpower opponents. Both Penguin and Batman are reliant on allies. However, it seems that everything Penguin does, Batman does better.
For example, although Penguin has devised some dastardly plans over the years, they were always foiled by Batman. Similar can be said about their equipment; Penguin has some incredible gadgets, but they cannot compare to Wayne Enterprises’ military technology.
If we were to sum it up, Batman owes his power to two things: physical prowess and incredible equipment. But that doesn’t mean that a character doesn’t have other positive traits. In fact, he is the de facto leader of the Justice League.
Even when his reasoning seems off, there is a brilliant logic behind his moves. Despite being a somewhat chaotic character, he brought stability to the group on numerous occasions.
According to the description, Batman’s physical traits supersede those of Olympian athletes. Each one of his muscles works at peak capacity making him almost a perfect human.
All of that allowed Bruce Wayne to perform extraordinary physical feats such as lifting 1,000 pounds of weight, not sleeping for four days, falling from a 30-store building without suffering injuries, and so on.
In the comics, he is portrayed as someone who has superb senses, metabolism, reflexes, stamina, agility, speed, durability, and strength.
If you also consider the fact that he is an amazing acrobat, master of numerous weapons and equipment, and capable of utilizing different fighting styles, it makes sense that Batman can tackle just about any physical threat.
In my opinion, the majority of Batman movies do a poor job portraying Batman’s intellect. He has more than 200 IQ, and it makes sense that he can easily outsmart even the most brilliant of the opponents. Bruce Wayne is so intellectually dominant that there is just one person in the whole world (Lex Luthor) who is more intelligent than him.
Although born into money, he was never lazy when it came to his education. He has a keen understanding of physics, geography, history, and other sciences. Bruce Wayne also has degrees in criminal science, chemistry, forensics, and computer science; basically everything he would need to battle Gotham’s villains.
The combination of intellect and education made Bruce one of the greatest detectives in the world, according to comic book lore. His deduction can be noticed in several media where he performs interrogations and collects evidence for Justice League, but also when battling enemies from Gotham.
One of the reasons why Justice League and Outsiders are such effective groups is because they have Batman as their main strategist and commander. The only other individual who can even come close to his tactical prowess is Deathstroke.
Not only does he perform well on the field, commanding troops when they fight enemies, but he can also create cunning strategies in preparation. In many episodes, he was able to discover enemy bluffs and hidden agendas allowing Batman to focus on the main task while avoiding any distractions.
Going against all the madmen of Gotham is no easy task. Making a vow not to kill makes it even harder. This is a testament to how mentally strong Batman is. Despite being in morally ambiguous situations numerous times, he always chooses to stay true to his beliefs.
Even when Batman was broken by Bane, he somehow managed to recover. Whether it’s mental torture or several physical wounding, he always comes on top, making him look superhuman even though he doesn’t have any special powers.
Penguin is mostly known for his financial knowledge, tactical ability, and high intellect. The comic book creators don’t mention nearly enough his fighting ability.
Like Batman, this villain utilizes numerous tools and weapons that make him extremely deadly on the battlefield. Due to how his umbrellas work, he always has a surprise under his sleeve prepared for his nemesis.
Penguin is the closest thing we have to a real mobster. He is very cunning, determined, and likes to plan in advance. This is actually one of his flaws, as he isn’t as erratic as some other Batman villains. For the most part, his focus is on accruing as much money and power as possible.
It is also worth noting that Penguin is not necessarily at odds with Batman. Unlike Joker, who is obsessed with the caped crusader, Penguin sees him as more of an obstacle than anything.
Unfortunately, despite all his great skills, Penguin couldn’t go toe-to-toe with Batman despite his intellect and battle prowess. Simply put, he is inferior in every way to the Dark Knight. Although, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he would lose in every situation, which I will explain in the future sections.
Although Penguin is extremely intelligent, he is nowhere near Batman’s level of IQ. However, it is worth noting that he has street smarts that helped him overcome various dicey situations. He swims like a fish in the criminal underworld, which created numerous enemies over the years.
One thing that I’ve noticed and that is rarely emphasized is Oswald’s ability to micromanage and multitask. He is like a corporate CEO, running numerous shady endeavors while keeping all his cronies in line.
In fact, the ability to accrue and manage money is one of the reasons why he managed to climb so high within Gotham’s criminal hierarchy. Although he is savage in his own way, I can’t really call him insane or unhinged.
Ability to Control Birds
Penguin’s ability to control birds is something that wasn’t explored enough in the movies and other media. He is an excellent bird trainer, which is best shown in Batman Returns. Oswald Cobblepot likes all avian species with special preferences for penguins. He rides them into battle and uses them to perform various other tasks.
Truth be told, I don’t think this ability was explored enough. In theory, Penguin could simply order hordes of birds to attack and kill Batman, which never happened. In a potential one-on-one fight, he could rely on his avian friend to provide a decisive edge.
However, given how the birds were utilized in cartoons, it would be fair for me to consider them as this overpowering force that would bring victory to Penguin.
See also: Azrael Batman Guide
How do Batman and Penguin Compare to Each Other?
Out of all the villains from this comic book, Penguin is the most similar to Batman.
First off, I have to emphasize the fact that Penguin is not insane like other characters in the comic book. However, I can’t say that he’s completely clear in the head.
He was born into high society but was often mocked by other children because of his physical appearance. In time, he developed numerous complexes affecting his relationship with other people. However, he is nowhere near characters such as Joker or Two-Face.
Despite his appearance and all the physical drawbacks, Cobblepot is a master of Judo, boxing, and ninjutsu. Sadly for him, Bruce Wayne knows just about every martial art there is. As if that wasn’t enough, Batman is an expert marksman, acrobat, and weapon user, allowing him to adapt to just about any situation.
Both of these characters utilize gadgets. Once again, Batman has a decisive edge over his nemesis. Wayne Corporation’s prototypes are among the best in the world and could even be used to take down the likes of Superman.
Aside from firearms, Penguin utilizes numerous trick umbrellas to deceive his opponents. Unfortunately, they won’t be much good against Batman, who has a superb Batsuit as a protective layer.
Is it Possible for Penguin to Beat Batman?
As mentioned, Penguin doesn’t measure up to the Caped Crusader. While they have some similar traits, Bruce Wayne is dominant in every way possible. So, Penguin is unlikely to overpower him or outsmart him. However, the villain has a few aces up his sleeve that might help him score a victory.
I have to start by mentioning Oswald’s umbrellas. He utilizes them in a plethora of ways to kill, main, daze, or put to sleep his enemies. He is full of tricks, and some of these measures might take Batman by surprise.
Then again, as I previously mentioned, Batman has a strong protective layer, so Penguin probably won’t be able to hurt him physically. But it is possible for Oswald to use some sort of a chemical agent that would confuse or incapacitate the enemy.
I also have to mention his ability to control the birds. They can serve as distractions as the two of them are fighting, or they might directly attack Bruce Wayne. That would provide a small window of opportunity during which Penguin can act and score a win.
Although you might think that someone like Joker would be a much bigger threat to Batman, as he scored a few victories against the Dark Knight, I believe that Penguin can also defeat him if the situation is right.
How could the Battle go?
Although Penguin and Batman are well-versed in hand-to-hand combat, the fight would most likely start at a distance. As per usual, the winner of the outcome could be decided in the first few moments. If Batman strikes first, there is a good chance he would disarm or disable Penguin with his Batarang.
For Oswald Cobblepot to win, a few things have to go his way. Given that he is unlikely to penetrate Bruce Wayne’s protective suit, he would have to go with something cunning.
For example, he would have to load his umbrella with a gas or a similar chemical. Even then, it wouldn’t ensure victory as Batman can protect himself from such agents.
If it becomes a melee fight, Batman will almost always win. Penguin’s birds can also provide a distraction, but it is hard to imagine that Penguin could physically break Batman because not even Bane was able to do so. In order for Cobblepot to win, he would have to somehow apprehend the Dark Knight and then kill him after removing the suit.
Batman vs Penguin in Comic Books
Batman and Penguin had numerous encounters in the comics. Their relationship is rather ambiguous, and Penguin would sometimes even help the Caped Crusader, but only when it was in his interest.
On occasions, he would manipulate other villains, so they battle Batman. Some of their conflicts have ended indirectly, without two of them engaging in a fight.
As mentioned, Penguin is fascinated by bird species, and lots of times, he would use them as personal henchmen. This is especially true for penguins that often follow the villain around.
In fact, the Penguin’s first loss is related to birds (or better yet, alligators). Oswald Cobblepot was making thefts around Gotham, and after each one, he would leave a bird egg with a clue. Ultimately, one of the eggs hatched an alligator that bit Penguin, thus giving Batman and Robin enough time to apprehend the villain.
So, this first fight was not necessarily won by Batman but instead lost by Penguin. The villain temporarily retired from crime and was mocked by the Gotham’s underbelly. He would once again battle the duo in Batman volume 1, 155.
Once again, he was doing thefts around the city, and Batman came to confront him. Penguin was much better prepared this time around, as he had numerous traps planted around his location. Unfortunately for him, Batman managed to dismantle them, and, with Robin’s assistance, he went on to apprehend the criminal mastermind.
Cooperating with Other Villains
As it usually goes in the superhero comics, villains from one universe would eventually start cooperating with each other in an attempt to destroy their nemesis. First, Penguin used his mind control machine to sway Shark, Captain Cold, and Mirror Master to his side.
Later on, he worked with Riddler and Joker, morphing Batman into a monstrous being with special nerve gas. Luckily for the Dark Knight, he was reverted back to his original self by Metamorpho, after which the two heroes apprehended the whole group.
Penguin had encounters with other Justice League heroes, as well. In one particular situation, he almost fell victim to Catwoman’s ploy, who hypnotized Lois Lane and ordered her to attack Oswald. Luckily for Penguin, the situation was defused by Superman, who came in the nick of time.
The thing I don’t like about Penguin’s portrayal is the way he is often presented as weak or comical. Previously, I mentioned the situation with the baby alligator. On one occasion, in issue 190, he was even knocked out by Alfred when he invaded Batman’s home with his home.
I think that these early storylines do a disservice to the character, although he was turned into a much more menacing presence in later years.
In issue 473, Gotham’s city council has decided to outlaw Batman and his sidekick, Robin. Criminals such as Penguin take advantage of this. He steals a rare relic called Malay Penguin. Just as the villain was preparing to steal a plane and escape the city, Batman figured out his plan and captured him before Oswald could run away.
Once again, in issue 492, Penguin was done dirty when Robin easily apprehended him after a short fight. Because of the storylines such as this, you think that just about anyone can defeat Penguin, which is why I believe he wouldn’t stand a chance against Batman.
I don’t want to call it lazy writing, and I understand the fact that creators have to switch up things after so many issues, but certain plots can be damaging to characters and would require their reinvention in the future, so they look like a credible threat.
Then again, there were also situations where it took several superheroes to take down Penguin. In The Brave and the Bold, number 185, the villain captured a millionaire with the help of a trained falcon. It took a group of Batman, Robin, and Green Arrow to take him down.
Batman vs Penguin in Movies
There were only two instances where Batman and Penguin were featured in movies. The villain’s first appearance was in 1992 Batman Returns. He was portrayed by Danny DeVito, while Michael Keaton was Batman.
We saw two of them in the recent 2022 Batman movie. Robert Pattinson played the role of Caped Crusader, and Colin Farrell was his nemesis.
The whole story of Batman Returns revolves around Penguin and his life story. At the very start of the movie, we see Oswald’s parents as they’re getting ready to receive a baby. The couple is shocked when Esther Cobblepot gives birth to a boy with several deformities.
Oswald’s parents quickly realized that the child’s demeanor fit his appearance. He is rather wild and vicious. As a member of Gotham’s upper class, Esther and Tucker Cobblepot think that the high society will never accept someone like Oswald.
They kept him in a cage until they eventually decided to throw him into the sewers, where he is brought up by penguins.
Penguin’s First Appearance
Over time, Penguin’s animalistic nature was further honed by stepparent penguins. He grew into a criminal mastermind and would eventually abduct Max Shreck, who was hell-bent on creating a power system that would supply the whole city with permanent electricity.
Upon capturing Shreck, Penguin blackmails the philanthropist saying that he will reveal dirty secrets from his mast unless Max helps him get back into the city’s high society.
This is where things start improving for Penguin. The villain staged a kidnapping attempt targeting the Gotham mayor’s baby. Of course, he was also the one who thwarted the attempt to gain praise and popularity throughout the city.
Batman is very suspicious of all this and goes on to investigate Oswald Cobblepot as well as Red Triangle Gang, a troop that works under him (something that Bruce Wayne didn’t know at the time).
Things become even more complex after that. Bruce Wayne is worried about the potential environmental impact of the power plant, and he confronts Shreck. This is where he meets Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman.
In an attempt to discredit the current major, Red Triangle Gang demolishes the city, which Oswald uses in his advance. During the battle with the gang, Batman meets Catwoman, and the two of them have a fight.
Later on, Catwoman decided to ally with Penguin in an attempt to take out the Batman. As a result of all this tinkering, Penguin wins mayoral elections by a landslide.
After ruining the previous mayor, Penguin tries to ruin Batman’s reputation as well. Briefly after, Catwoman and Penguin have a fall-off. Things take a turn for the worse for Oswald Cobblepot as Batman managed to record one of their conversations, thus incriminating the current mayor, Cobblepot, and forcing him back into the sewers.
Angry because of everything that has happened, Oswald Cobblepot decided to kill all of Gotham’s first sons. He mind controls his trusty penguins and puts bombs on them. However, Batman and Alfred manage to break the signal, and the penguins are no longer in Oswald’s command.
The movie culminates with a fight between the two opponents. Suddenly, Penguin falls into toxic water. In a last-ditch effort to kill Batman, Oswald shoots at him from the polluted water. However, he quickly succumbs to the injuries and toxic substances.
In the 2022 movie, Penguin had a much smaller role.
At the start of the movie, Batman receives incriminating evidence showing the Gotham’s mayor with a young girl. They were having fun at Iceberg Lounge, a place run by Penguin. He goes to that place and engages its owner, Oswald Cobblepot.
After a short back and forth, Penguin claims that he had nothing to do with the blackmail and this incriminating evidence.
Commissioner Gordon and Batman struggle to find the informant. After lots of investigating, Bruce Wayne finally concludes that the informant was Penguin all along. They track him down to, what seems to be, a drug transaction.
Penguin manages to flee the scene and escapes the Capped Crusader. However, Batman eventually managed to capture him and put him behind bars.
Between the two movies, I prefer Penguin’s portrayal in Batman returns. The whole story revolves around him, and you get a glimpse into his mentality and all the devious things he’s willing to do to achieve his goals. Anyway, in both cases, the villain was eventually apprehended by Batman and punished for his crimes.
Question: Does Batman Fight Penguin?
Answer: Batman and Penguin had numerous fights over the years, whether we’re talking about comics, cartoons, or movies. The two of them even teamed up with other villains and superheroes in an attempt to thwart the other one. In most cases, Batman would come on top.
What I hate the most is how weak Penguin was portrayed in some of these situations. He was beaten by just about anyone, from Robin to Alfred, which leaves a really bad taste in my mouth and affects the villain’s credibility.
Question: Which Batman has the Penguin?
Answer: Throughout the comic books, Penguin was featured numerous times. He is one of the biggest antagonists in the show, with a unique role within the Batman universe. As for the movies, he appears in Batman Returns and the newest Batman from 2022. He is also featured in numerous cartoons.
Question: Can Penguin Defeat Batman?
Answer: Although Penguin is portrayed as inferior to Batman in just about every sense, he is no slouch. Oswald Cobblepot has a strong grip over the Gotham’s underground, running numerous criminal endeavors simultaneously.
Despite usually being the loser, it isn’t unimaginable for Penguin to defeat Batman. He is a savvy tactician and a very intelligent planer. Even in terms of close combat skills, Penguin can defeat various opponents.
Batman and Penguin have met numerous times in comic books. In most cases, Batman would take the victory. However, Penguin is often portrayed as a cunning and capable opponent, so I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t be able to prevail against the Dark Knight.
Although he probably couldn’t win in a straight-up one-on-one fight, Penguin has various tricks up his sleeve that he can utilize to surprise Bruce Wayne. Besides using his trick umbrellas, he can also summon avian species to provide an advantage in close and ranged combat.