Is Penguin Hero, Anti-Hero, or a Villain? Explained

Is Penguin Hero Anti Hero or a Villain

Batman has the best rogues gallery in the comics, not because his villains are beings of unimaginable power and cosmic influence, but because it’s easy to warp the picture and slap the title of the anti-hero on some of them. Batman’s villains are usually tragic characters and have much deeper motivations than meets the eye, and today we’re going to explore one of them, The Grotesque Penguin. We’re going to analyze how exactly Penguin turn to the bad side of the law and whether he can be considered a villain or anti-hero in the first place.

Penguin is a supervillain and has almost no redeemable qualities that would have labeled him an anti-hero or hero. He is the source of much of the criminal activity in Gotham, and despite helping. Bruce, on a few occasions, still doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the reasons that Bruce needs to put on the Batsuit and fight for Gotham. He is also cruel and doesn’t shy away from murder to get what he wants.

Now that we’ve covered that Penguin is, in fact, a villain, it’s time to analyze his history and what the character is all about. If you’re interested in more, stay with us and keep reading!

Penguin is, in a way, a mockery of high society

Penguin is a really old character created back in 1941 by Bill Finger and Bon Kane. He is considered to be among the most iconic Batman villains, even though he was never included in the stories with as much gravity as Joker, for example. Many of Batman’s villains, it can be noted, represent some aspects of insanity, but what makes Penguin stand out is the fact that he is not insane at all. He is at all times under control of his action, and this is what makes him, sometimes, a reliable source of information or help.

He owns and operates Iceberg Lounge, which serves as a front for his criminal activities, and he is known to be cruel and ruthless in his “business” dealings. But there’s a good reason why he became who he is.

Like most of DC’s characters, Penguin’s origin story has been revised several times. One of his most recent origin stories states that he was born to a wealthy Gotham family, but despite his high social status, his childhood was plagued by abuse and rejection.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot was born Tucker and Esther Cobblepot but was never a normal child. He was born with a birth defect that affected everything from his looks to his stature. He has a beak-like nose, is short and overweight, and allegeldy his father dropped him after he was born because of how he looks.

Penguins father dropping him to the floor

Oswald’s mother had only unconditional love for him despite his father and brothers mocking him cruelly and being generally unaccepting. He developed an unhealthy fascination with his mother and an unhealthy fascination with birds in general. His brothers were the first to make comparisons between him and Penguins, and this is why Cobblepot generally felt more kinship with strange birds rather than with humans.


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Cobblepot’s father never accepted him in general, and he knew that the family was a dead end for him. When he couldn’t take the abuse any longer, he murdered his brothers in a series of freak accidents. In fact, he killed the friend of his former crush, and he continued in this murderous fashion for the years to come, systematically killing all of his enemies and bullies, and he eventually made a career out of it.

Penguins Borthers

Despite having all this money and connections, Cobblepot was never truly a part of his family or civilized society in general, so he decided to act like it.

Penguin has no redeemable qualities that would have branded him an anti-hero or much less a hero

Now, we can rationalize why Cobblepot turned out the way he was, and we can take turns to guess the deeper motivations behind the character, but the answer was actually given to us by Cobblepot himself. Instead of learning from his pain, he “turned” into his bullies. Killing and ruling his criminal empire with an iron fist based on fear and violence.

There is a good reason why Penguin chose this bird specifically to represent him. Penguins are short and stocky birds with terrible coordination, and you would have expected that the evolutionary they won’t be as successful as other birds due to their many shortcomings, but what makes them special and thrive is the fact that they adapt easily and well.

Inspiration behind penguin

Cobblepot figured out that Penguins play to their strengths, and he knew that his greatest strength was a lack of morals, a lack of empathy for humans in general, and that he was willing to do anything to rise to power.

Years after he started playing to his sociopathic greatest strength, he rose to the top of the food chain. All that matters is money and power, and he has both. He was still the angry, vulnerable little kid that he was decades ago when pretty much everyone bullied him, only this time, he had money and power, and people were tripping themselves to fulfill his every need, but not because he was respected and loved, but because he is feared.

Penguin power tripping 1

And he gets off on it. He enjoys these types of power trips, which ultimately represents how little he learned from his own abuse. He is here to continue the cycle of abuse.

As you can see, Penguin can never be a hero. He can only be a villain, no matter his origin story. He is a tragic character, yes, but this doesn’t automatically absolve him of guilt and grants him the “morally grey” status of an anti-hero. Yes, Penguin sometimes helps, but this is because of his own self-serving interests, not out of the goodness of his heart.


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He is not morally grey. He is evil and manipulative, with a side of sociopath and an unhealthy fixation on birds and power hierarchies. There’s nothing more to it.

What do you think about Penguin? Is he, in some ways anti-hero? Let us know in the comments below!

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