Who would Batman be without Alfred Pennyworth, his loyal butler and constant companion in crimefighting? Considering Alfred’s unyielding assistance to both Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight, the answer is probably not much. Yet, how much do we really know about Mr. Pennyworth? Where did he come from? How did he meet the Waynes? And how did someone with so many skills end up as a butler?
We’ll get answers to these questions and many more now that EPIX has greenlit Pennyworth, an upcoming ten-part drama series from Warner Horizon Scripted Television, executive producer/writer Bruno Heller and executive producer/director Danny Cannon. Heller and Cannon, for those of you who don’t recognize them, are the team behind Gotham, Fox’s hit #DCTV show that was just greenlit for a fifth season.
Pennyworth is based on DC characters created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger. It follows Bruce Wayne’s legendary butler, Alfred Pennyworth, a former British SAS soldier who forms a security company and goes to work with Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s billionaire father, in 1960’s London. Production will begin later this year, with a series premiere slated for 2019.
Said Michael Wright, President, EPIX, “As genuine fans of these classic DC characters, as well as the incredibly talented Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, we couldn’t be more excited to make EPIX the home of this series. We can’t wait to work with Bruno and Danny—along with Peter Roth, Susan Rovner, Brett Paul and the team at Warner Horizon—on this fantastic origin story.”
Heller and Cannon said, “Michael and his colleagues have created the perfect venue for original storytelling, and all of us working on Pennyworth are thrilled to be on the EPIX slate.”
While many might see Alfred as an older, tuxedoed gentleman known largely for tidying up after his extremely secretive employer while providing occasional comic relief, the character’s comic book history has established that he lived quite a fascinating life prior to his employment with the Waynes. As the show description references, Alfred has a pretty well-established background in the British military, though his exact role in it has varied throughout the years—sometimes he’s in intelligence, sometimes he’s a medic, sometimes he’s in the RAF, sometimes he’s in the Royal Marines. The point is that he knows how to fight and lately has been portrayed as something of a scrapper, including in Heller and Cannon’s Gotham. He’s also been shown to have a background in the theater, which has aided in the subterfuge required to keep his boss’s alter ego a secret. Finally, it’s also been revealed that Alfred has an adult daughter named Julia.
It’s unsure which, if any, of these characteristics Pennyworth might keep, but the bottom line is that there’s quite a bit to this character’s earlier life that has so far only been glimpsed in flashbacks and side stories. One recent standout storyline, for anyone interested in learning more about Mr. Pennyworth, is Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s Alfred-centric ALL STAR BATMAN VOL. 3: THE FIRST ALLY, in which the butler is revealed to have once been trained as a deadly elite agent.
We’ll have to wait until next year to see what this decidedly different #DCTV show has in store for us, but feel free to comment and speculate below. And be sure to keep your eye on DCComics.com for more on Pennyworth and other recently announced shows like Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol as it breaks!