Epix has released the first look at Jack Bannon (The Imitation Game) as Alfred Pennyworth — the SAS soldier who will eventually become Batman‘s butler — in Batman prequel series Pennyworth. Series creators Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon also revealed details about the series during a Television Critics Association panel on Sunday and at the Gotham panel last week, where Cannon called Pennyworth an “unhinged, R-rated” series.
They credited Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy for introducing the idea that Alfred was a former SAS soldier. In Pennyworth, he’s just left the service and started a personal security business, which leads to him working as a driver/bodyguard for Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) in an alternate reality 1960s post-war London. This alternate reality has a different Queen of England, who will be a character in the series, and villains both literary and historical might show up. Cannon explained, “archetypal villains and classic villains of British literature; they’re all available to us.”
Who are some of those villains? Descendants of Jack the Ripper, for starters. There’s also a pair of sisters — Bet Sykes (played by Paloma Faith) and Peggy Sykes (played by Polly Walker) — who are new characters to the DC universe (and we don’t know if they’re related to any famous villians or not). Faith described her character as “an absolute psycho.” The other sister is “one of Lancashire’s busiest and most successful dominatrixes,” according to Deadline. Jason Flemyng will be playing a villain called Lord Harwood, which is the character we’d bet on being a Ripper descendant.
How did Alfred get mixed up with these villains? Ben Aldridge, who plays Thomas Wayne, describes his character as “moral and philanthropic” but adds he’s nonetheless “associated with more of a covert secret world” in this alternate universe.
So it sounds like this “unhinged, R-rated” version of Alfred ain’t your daddy’s English butler (unless your dad is Batman), although Alfred’s father in the series is a butler who wants his son to enter the family business. Heller said that’s “the last thing that Alfred wants to do. Essentially this is the journey of someone discovering that everyone has to serve someone somehow.”
Ten episodes of Pennyworth will premiere during Summer 2019 on Epix, which just launched a $5.99 per month streaming service, incidentally.