After Barry Keoghan's Joker was teased at the tail-end of Matt Reeves' The Batman, fans have been itching to know when audiences would see/hear from the villain again. One place many did not expect the character to pop up though was in the upcoming Penguin-centric spin-off HBO Max series.
The Penguin is set to take place "about a week after The Batman ends," with Colin Farrell's Oz picking up the pieces of a criminal empire, and coming into his own as the Penguin.
Not much else is known about the project, aside from some casting information here and there. And the latest of these casting calls could have potential ties to Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime.
The Penguin Casts Mike Stone
The Illuminerdi reported that HBO Max's The Penguin is currently looking to cast deep-cut DC Comics/Batman character Mike Stone.
Stone has one comic appearance to date, being the focus of 2015's Arkham Manor: Endgame. The issue centers on Stone as he tells a Joker-focused story of working at Arkham Manor, a take on Gotham's iconic asylum set up within Wayne Manor.
The one-shot sees Stone reminisce about Joker's assault on the Manor, a night in which the Penguin-hired gun-turned-Arkham-employee goes toe-to-toe with the Clown Prince of Crime, punching him out when he's had enough of the bloodshed.
With Arkham and the legacy surrounding the institution becoming such a big part of The Batman's final act, it is unknown if The Penguin's take on Stone will simply be muscle for Oz's growing criminal empire or an Arkham employee like he is in the comic.
What Could Mike Stone Mean for The Penguin?
It seems odd for the creative team behind HBO Max's The Penguin to be including such a deep-cut character in the upcoming series, but it could be very intentional.
If Stone was simply going to play a background role, he could have been named "Goon #2" or "Arkham Guard", but he isn't! Mike Stone is specifically named for a reason.
Stone is one of the only characters who has ever gone up against the Joker and won. The only other big name to do so is none other than Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman), and most of the time even the Caped Crusader ends up losing in the long run.
Perhaps this is an indication that the Joker will at least place a small part in the upcoming Batman spin-off. Barry Keoghan's "Unseen Arkham Prisoner" likely will not be the main villain of The Penguin, keeping him for the inevitable The Batman 2. But his potential Arkham escape, or hints thereof, could play into the proceedings.
All this could also be leading to another big story coming to pass as well. Could Mike Stone's inclusion be a hint at Arkham Manor (the title of Stone's one comic appearance) becoming a part of Matt Reeves' Bat-Verse?
The Batman revealed that Bruce Wayne's mother was, in fact, also an Arkham. So, the family's iconic Manor being retrofitted into a home for Gotham's most wanted could actually work well in this universe. But all that is speculation at this point.
The Penguin is set to begin filming in early 2023 with no public release timing at this point.