A Batman movie would not be complete without the loyal and tiresome efforts of our favorite Butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Portrayed slightly differently in every film he’s appeared in, Alfred often serves as an important guide and voice of reason to his employer, Bruce Wayne. And the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is set to include the character once again, this time in a way we’ve never seen before.
The new Alfred will be played by notable English actor, Jeremy Irons. Though he could not discuss the character in length, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Irons teased his upcoming role in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice stating:
"He is quite a different Alfred than we have seen so far. Zack Snyder had very clear views about what he wanted. I would just say he's more hands-on perhaps than just a butler."
Irons admitted that his role will be small, so we are left wondering what exactly a "more hands-on" Alfred will entail, especially in relation to the last Alfred we came to know and love, played by Michael Caine. If I had to describe Caine’s portrayal of Alfred, the first phrase that would come to mind is hands-on. In each film of Christopher Nolan’sThe Dark Knight series, Alfred played a pivotal role. In Batman Begins he helped Bruce essentially create Batman, helping him build the batcave, tools in hand. Alfred even saved Bruce while he was trapped in the flaming manor after the League of Shadows attacked. And that's only in the first film of the series.
Unless Irons portrayal of Alfred is going to include him fighting side-by-side with Batman, I’m not too sure what a more hands-on Alfred will look like. Even in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman series, we played witness to a hands-on Alfred who helped Bruce in more ways than one. He even introduces his niece Barbara, who ends up becoming Batgirl.
The typical Alfred has been known to mind his space from Batman, offer assistance at the manor, thoughtful advice and patch up Bruce when needed. There’s been somewhat of a disconnect between Bruce when masked as Batman and Alfred, in comparison to the Alfred and Bruce relationship. It makes sense, Alfred is there to support his employer, and much more than that, look after him after the death of his parents. He plays a paternal role in Bruce’s life. So distancing himself from the actual fight has always been a key part of Alfred’s survival to maintain that role. He works more as a support-system at home, then out on the field.
So if this Alfred, in Batman V Superman is destined to be more hands-on than the previous Alfred’s we’ve grown accustomed to, we might see the old man using one of Batman’s gadgets on a villain or supplying some necessary backup. Because there are already so many characters lined up for the upcoming film, there won’t be a lot of Alfred on screen. But it’ll be exciting to see what this new and improved, hands-on Alfred has to offer. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is scheduled to hit theaters March 25, 2016.