For more than 80 years, The Penguin has smoked like a chimney. As anatomically confusing as always, his classic look was that of a 1920s socialite: Top hat, monocle, and, yes, cigarette clutched by elongated cigarette holder. Smoking is to Oswald Cobblepot what breaking the legs of a desperate, hungry criminal is to Batman. And yet, for The Batman, Matt Reeves’ authoritatively titled entry to the canon, the Penguin is left looking for an ashtray.
In a recent interview with Jake’s Takes, Colin Farrell confirmed that The Penguin has given up his trademark habit for this grittier, more noir version of the character. “Big studios make big decisions around such things as the presence of cigarettes in films,” Farrell said.
It’s clear from the interview that this was a sticking point on set. When YouTube host Jake Hamilton asks about the cigarette holder, Farrell’s costar John Tuttoro begins to cackle. Cobblepott must’ve been fiending for a drag between takes.
Farrell looked to compromise—what would he do with his flippers between lines? “I fought valiantly for a cigar,” he continued. “At one stage I said, ‘I can have it unlit! Just let me have it unlit.’ They were like, ‘No.’ Like a bunch of 12-year-olds are going to start smoking Cuban cigars.”
A Penguin without smoking? Obviously, not the biggest deal in the world. Disney managed a Cruella movie without a cigarette, and that worked out ok, right? Of course, Disney has a mandate against smoking in their films, which extends across brands. But it begs the question: Why make a children’s movie about a woman who skins dogs for fur, then draw the line at her puffing a sweet Macanudo?
Perhaps, the children who sneak into the Zodiac-inspired Batman movies—that’s really more of a serial killer mystery than a superhero flick—will glom onto other areas of the Penguin’s personality. Who knows? Maybe the crime bosses of the future will find all the inspiration they need.