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EPIX’s Pennyworth: The Batman Prequel We Didn’t Know We Wanted | SDCC 2019

When I first heard that EPIX would be making an Alfred Pennyworth series that took place decades before the infamous tragic scene that took place in crime alley that lead to the creation of one of the most famous superheroes, Batman, I thought it was a joke. It was around this same time last year that Warner Bros. Animation had released the film Teen Titans GO! To The Movies, where they joked about the idea of Alfred getting his own series.

As Batman fans we need to remember that Alfred Pennyworth is a key part of Bruce Wayne’s life always there at his side mentoring him every step of the way and even to taking him out of life and death situations. But how interesting could a story be where the protagonist ends up being a butler? That is a challenge that writer and executive producer for the series Bruno Heller knew he had to face and he mentioned it to us during our roundtable interviews with the cast and crew of the series Pennyworth at San Diego Comic-Con 50.

“A Batman story is very specific because everyone knows the outcome. The question for me was, how does someone who was a brave man of action in essence a soldier, become a butler? That’s a strange journey, so answering that question was was the essence of how to portray his journey. Then it was really taking all those brilliant Alfred’s that have been portrayed in the past and creating a convincing version of that as a young man”, said Heller.

Executive producer Danny Cannon as well as the director for the Pilot episode also talked about the direction the series. Specifically, where was Alfred able to get all that experience that one day would be so valuable to Batman? “We wanted to go back to where did and experience and the maturity come from? Why would somebody who said in the beginning of the story ‘I’ll never be a butler, forget that’, when we know he will. What’s going to happen to this guy, what journey will he go on to fulfill that destiny and why”, said Cannon.

The title role of the future butler was awarded to Jack Bannon, who I must say after watching the pilot episode, portrays the character that feels like belongs in a 007 James Bond film rather than someone out of the DC Universe especially a character that we are used to seeing in a supporting role. So how would he deal with the pressures of taking on the role of a character that is part of such a rabid fanbase?

“It has the existing IP of Batman, but what we are doing you can definitely watch the show even if you know nothing about Batman. It is a character driven drama and we’ve just nicked characters from the cannon. It’s fantastic because we free reign, we can re-write history, we can change anything”, says Bannon. During our conversation with him he also talked about how he was able to cope with following in the footsteps of other versions of the character. “It was a daunting list to join for sure. But the way I processed it in my head I was like ‘your fine, your fine’, because even though they shot all their stuff years before, technically your before them so their following me, not I’m following them (…) which makes no sense, but it enables me to go to work without losing my mind”.

We will be following Alfred soon after he returns from his service in the war, in what seems to be his mid-twenty’s to his mother and fathers house. Going forward he is determined to start up a security business. While working to get that going, he takes a job as a doorman at a club in London, where he has his first interaction with Thomas Wayne, played by Ben Aldridge. During the Pilot episode he shows off his cool and calm demeanor as well as fighting skills that help him get out of many situations that unfortunately, Wayne has got him involved in. The cast and crew do a fantastic job at standing out without having to resort to throwing any Batman references to get your attention. Even without the connection, they provide an interesting set of villains that are part of what they call the Raven Society that is looking to overthrow the current government.

Overall, it’s a great series that I believe could stand on it’s own even without the connection to the Dark Knight. It is the Batman prequel that none of us knew that we wanted, but can now be very glad to have it. It’s only giant hurdle is the fact that it is exclusively available on EPIX and I am wondering how many people will actually pick it up and stream this great series in the making.

Pennyworth premieres Sunday, July 28th at 9 p.m. ET on EPIX.


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Source: LRMOnline SDCC 2019 Coverage

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