First glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch's character in The Penguins of Madagascar

Forget otters. The Sherlock actor has morphed into a super suave wolf in the Madagascar spin-off

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First glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch's character in The Penguins of Madagascar
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His visual similarity to otters hasn't gone unnoticed, but Benedict Cumberbatch has chosen to forgo the dinky mammals and voice a wolf in his new, animated film.

Penguins of Madagascar sees the Sherlock actor lend his sonorous tones (not to mention his cheekbones) to Classified (seen below), a suave secret agent and head of a covert protective force of animals, hired to safeguard a gang of penguins. 

But these aren't just any old penguins... Classified's brood are beloved cinematic favourites – Skipper (Tom McGrath) and his crew Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (John DiMaggio) and Private (Christopher Knights) from hit film Madagascar. Here they get their own spin-off which sees them anger disgruntled octopus Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), also known as "Dave", who makes it his mission to wipe out their species. 

The penguins are convinced they can save themselves but Classified knows better, seeking the support of seal Short Fuse (played by The Hangover's Ken Jeong), an explosives expert; snow owl Eva (Annet Mahendru), an intelligence analyst with a Russian accent; and Norwegian bear Corporal (Peter Stormare) who constantly tries to embrace his four flightless charges. 

Cumberbatch claims he's already well prepared for his new role: "I don't know what it's like to be a penguin, but I do know what it's like to be a super-super-smooth classified agent."

He says "there's a bit of Benedict" in Classified's voice, although we'll have to wait a while until we hear it in full – the movie isn't released in the UK until 5 December 2014.