Unmasked: the Joker saves world from Covid in Danny DeVito’s Batman story

Batman’s least intimidating foe the Penguin, usually seen plotting the heist of Gotham City’s priciest jewels, has a somewhat less dastardly plan up his sleeve in his latest outing: he’s out to vaccinate the world.

The feathered supervillain’s latest storyline was dreamed up by the actor Danny DeVito, who played the character in the 1992 film Batman Returns. Working with artist Dan Mora, DeVito has written the story Bird Cat Love for an anthology celebrating Batman’s enemies, Gotham City Villains, published on Tuesday by DC Comics to celebrate the 80th anniversary year of the character’s creation.

Rather than depicting the Penguin up to his usual tricks, however, DeVito has him stealing all the world’s vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies who are hoarding them, according to an early report from comics site Bleeding Cool News – and then forcibly vaccinating everyone on the planet. The story, which also focuses on the romance between the Penguin and Catwoman, his crush from Batman Returns, ends with Batman and his allies reading a newspaper headlined “Bird and Cat Vanquish Virus”. “Since they’ve inoculated the planet and put an end to the pandemic, they’ve been awfully quiet,” muses Batman.

“At first I was a little bit hesitant about doing the comic, but then I got into the fact that I’ve always been a big fan of Michelle Pfeiffer’s, and the Penguin obviously lusts after Catwoman. So I figured I’d put those two together, and then it was also in the middle of the pandemic, which we’re still fighting with. I thought it would be good if Penguin had a little bit of Robin Hood in him,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

“That’s what Oswald wants: Get everybody vaccinated and give science a chance to get ahead of this. The thing mutates, and if we don’t give the vaccine to people all over the world, it’s going to keep mutating.”

DeVito told Forbes that he had checked with Pfeiffer, who played Catwoman in the 1992 film, that she was happy with him writing the romance between their two characters. “I did call Michelle and tell her that I was doing it. I said ‘Look, it’s like my fantasy and it’s my dream come true to have an incredible romance with such a beautiful woman. Oswald, I’m talking about, and Selina.’ She was very excited to hear about it,” he said. The Penguin’s real name is Oswald Cobblepot, while Catwoman’s is Selina Kyle.

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