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Who’s The Penguin & What’s a Fish Mooney? Your Guide To The Villains Of ‘Gotham’

Where to Stream

Gotham

By now, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that the new FOX drama, Gotham, tells the story of Gotham City before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. The show is going to follow Ben McKenzie as young Jim Gordon. He’s not Commissioner yet. He’s just a rookie detective who wants to find out who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. Of course, the intricate crime world of Gotham and the city’s corrupt police force isn’t going to make that task easy for the noble young Gordon.

Do you know what else might not be easy? Knowing which classic Batman villains are being brought to life in Gotham. Some of them, like Robin Lord Taylor‘s young Penguin, are easy to spot, but others, like the Riddler, are still masquerading as normal, ordinary, decent Gotham citizens. Here’s a handy rundown of who’s who in the rogue’s gallery of Gotham‘s villains.

Penguin

Who We Know Him As: The Penguin, aka Oswald Cobblepot, sees himself as a “gentleman of crime.” Both Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito have portrayed him as a rotund crime lord, though DeVito also imbued the character with a penchant for the grotesque. In the comics, the Penguin is one of the few Batman villains who is not criminally insane. He has an umbrella.
Who He Is In Gotham: Young Oswald Cobblepot is not yet a major crime lord. He’s Fish Mooney’s main serving boy and lackey. He’s clever, conniving, duplicitous, and he exhibits a sadistic streak. He would be completely unlikable, but Robin Lord Taylor plays him with a streak of vulnerability that makes you understand his actions. You actually want to root for him. Oh, and he hates being called a “penguin.”

Catwoman

Who We Know Her As: The seductive cat burglar, Selena Kyle, is perhaps the most morally ambiguous of Batman’s nemeses. She’s more interested in accumulating wealth than exacting revenge, and she and Bruce Wayne usually have some sort of flirtation. Onscreen she’s been portrayed by everyone from Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfieffer to Julie Newmar and Anne Hathaway.
Who She Is In Gotham: We don’t hear her speak in the pilot, but Gotham opens on young Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) scaling the city’s roofs, picking pockets, and accidentally witnessing the murder of the Waynes. For the rest of the episode, the lithe teen sneaks in the shadows as she stalks young Bruce Wayne.

The Riddler

Who We Know Him As: Edward Nigma, the crazed costumed villain obsessed with riddles. Hence, why he’s called “The Riddler.” He’s been most famously portrayed by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever.
Who He Is In Gotham: He’s an obnoxious forensics expert for the Gotham City Police Department played by up-and-coming actor Cory Michael Smith. He seems to hit it off with Detective Gordon in his brief pilot appearance.

Poison Ivy

Who We Know Her As: Poison Ivy didn’t appear in the original Adam West series, but she was brought to slinky, seductive life by Uma Thurman in Joel Schumacher’s disastrous Batman & Robin. Her alter ego is Dr. Pamela Isley and she’s usually painted as a crazed, man-hating environmentalist. In Batman: The Animated Series, she’s besties (and maybe more) with Harlequin.
Who She Is In Gotham: She’s Ivy Pepper, the surly and downbeaten daughter of a felon who is accused of the Waynes’ murders. She likes plants and dislikes the cops. She’s being played by Clare Foley.

Fish Mooney

Who We Know Her As: No one. She’s an original character.
Who She Is In Gotham: Fish Mooney is an imposing and shrewd crime lord with ambitions to take over all crime in Gotham City. She is seductive, dramatic, and a tiny bit unhinged. However, she is also extremely smart and dangerous. She is played with a lot of gusto by Jada Pinkett Smith.

The Joker

Who We Know Him As: Batman’s greatest rival. He is a deranged and sometimes nihilistic psychopath. He’s been famously played by both Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson. However, Heath Ledger gave us the most iconic and the most unhinged onscreen interpretation of the character to date in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Who He Is In Gotham: We don’t know yet. However, there have been hints that Gotham City’s most famous bad guy, the Joker, might be pulling the strings from behind-the-scenes. There was a peculiar scene in the pilot where Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney is relaxing by letting a puppy-faced hack comedian (Jon Beavers) tell her cheesy jokes. If Gotham is hiding the Joker anywhere in the pilot, we think this comedian might be an early version of him.

Also causing trouble in Gotham? Tons of corrupt cops, politicians, and then there’s noted crime lord Carmine Falcone. Falcone has appeared in Batman adaptations before, but he’s never really been one of the caped crusader’s more famous nemeses. Suffice to say, that Gotham is one scary city. Trust no one. Well, maybe trust Alfred (or don’t?).

Gotham debuts on Fox at 7/8 C tonight.

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Photos: Everett Collection & FOX

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