There’s no doubt that Alfred is at the heart of the Bat-Family. In fact, you could argue that he’s its most important member. But the man had a life before he became the most famous butler in comics. It’s just that for most of us, we really don’t know what it was.
Actor Jack Bannon (The Imitation Game) will aim to change that as he takes on the role of Alfred in the upcoming EPIX series Pennyworth, which focuses on Alfred’s life well before the birth of Bruce Wayne. Pennyworth was announced earlier this year, and is a ten-episode drama series that comes from Gotham executive producers Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon. It follows Alfred, a former British SAS soldier who forms a security company and goes to work with Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s billionaire father, in 1960s London.
While we’ve seen many versions of Alfred Pennyworth on the small screen before, going back to Alan Napier on 1966’s Batman series and continuing on to Sean Pertwee’s portrayal of the butler on Heller and Cannon’s Gotham, it’s rare that we’ve ever seen him outside his role as Bruce Wayne’s loyal manservant.
Photo by Jennie Scott
Pennyworth’s Alfred is described as a boyishly handsome, cheerful, charming, clever young man from London. Honest, open-faced and witty; you’d never take him for an SAS killer. Alfred doesn’t know how to reconcile the kind-hearted boy he used to be with the cold, calculated killer he was forced to become. He’s a man on the make, who doesn’t know what to make of himself yet.
As for Bannon, along with his role alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the Oscar-winning The Imitation Game, Bannon has also been seen in David Ayer’s Fury, and on shows like Ripper Street, The Loch and Endeavor.
While Alfred may get the show’s title treatment, he’s not the only character from Batman’s world who will be on the show. EPIX announced today that actor Ben Aldridge (Reign) is also joining the cast of Pennyworth as Bruce’s father Thomas Wayne. Eventually becoming a pivotal figure in his son’s life before his tragic death, Pennyworth’s Thomas is described as a young, fresh-faced billionaire hailing from the east coast of the United States. Confident and extremely disciplined, this young aristocrat meets an unlikely business partner in Alfred Pennyworth.
Photo by Rachell Smith
In comics, TV and movies, Thomas Wayne has traditionally been portrayed as both a brilliant doctor and a generous philantropist, but there has been a bit of variation over the years. Grant Morrison suggested that Thomas and Martha Wayne may have harbored some dark and pretty sordid secrets in his classic BATMAN, R.I.P. storyline, and it’s been hinted that he may have been involved with some shady dealings at Wayne Enterprises in Gotham. In what’s arguably Thomas’s most famous comic book story, he even takes on the mantle of Batman himself after the murder of his son in FLASHPOINT (albeit in an alternate timeline). While it’s highly unlikely we’ll be seeing Thomas Wayne don a cape and cowl in Pennyworth, there’s more than enough for the show’s writers to play with to keep us on our toes as to what to expect.
Aldrige is probably best known for his role as King Antoine de Bourbon on The CW’s Reign, but he’s also appeared in TV movies like Toast and The Bible, and will soon be seen as George Gershwin in Paris Song. Interestingly, he’s the second actor to be cast as Thomas Wayne in a major Batman-adjacent project this year. Actor Brett Cullen will be portraying the elder Wayne in Todd Phillips’s Joker, which is scheduled for release in 2019.
So, what do you think, Bat-fans? Are you curious about this stage in Alfred and Thomas’s lives? The swinging sixties certainly hold plenty of potential. And what do you think of Bannon and Aldridge? Let us know in the comments below!