No matter how the story changes on the big screen or in the comics, there’s one constant in Bruce Wayne’s fight against crime: the support of Alfred Pennyworth, the trusted father figure who is also Batman‘s number one ally. Indeed, Matt Reeves’ The Batman will feature a new version of Bruce’s faithful butler, and Andy Serkis (Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings) has been cast in the role, as confirmed by the director in a tweet.
Alfred was most recently portrayed on the big screen by Jeremy Irons (Watchmen) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, but a soft reboot of many of the elements put in place in the early days of the DCEU means that major shake ups in the cast and story have taken place since Irons’ bow in the superhero team-up movie. It also makes sense that a younger actor would take on the role considering that Reeves is focusing on a younger version of Bruce.
Serkis joins Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), who will star as the Dark Knight, as well as Zoe Kravitz (Big Little Lies) as Catwoman, Paul Dano (Okja) as The Riddler, and Jeffrey Wright (No Time to Die) as Commissioner Gordon. Also in talks for the role of the Penguin is Collin Farrell (True Detective). Reeves is directing and writing the script. Serkis and Reeves previously worked together on the last two Planet of the Apes movies.
While the character has become a pivotal part of the Bat mythos in the last eight decades, the Alfred we know and love didn’t actually make his comic book debut until four years after Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (1939). Created by Don Cameron and Bob Kane, Alfred was conceived as comedic relief to balance out Batman’s crimefighting adventures. When originally introduced, Alfred “Beagle” was played for laughs, a butler who moonlighted as a bumbling detective who caught criminals completely by accident. It wasn’t until quite a while later that the more familiar version of Alfred Pennyworth would arrive, thanks to Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson.
You should probably expect Serkis to play the capable and wise butler and not the dim-witted detective when The Batman hits theaters on June 25, 2021.