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The hubbub surrounding The Batman's Robert Pattinson has mostly settled, and people have moved on to other polarizing casting choices. That said, fans with strong opinions may soon find their way back to The Batman, as The Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway has put an amazingly unexpected casting suggestion for Alfred out into the universe.
So, what's the twist? Make Alfred young? Give him super-powers? What if he's not actually the butler but instead the new Robin? It's nothing that crazy, although some may disagree. He has in fact suggested The Batman's Alfred be played by a woman. Not just any woman, however, an English actress with a long resume and a lot of acclaim earned from audiences through her various roles over the years. So, who is Conway's suggestion?
That's right, the iconic theater, television, film actress and Dame Maggie Smith. Some know her as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter film franchise, others may remember her from movies like Hook, The Secret Garden or Sister Act. She's also Violet Crawley in the wonderful former series Downton Abbey (which is also getting a movie), and is most always a wonderful addition to any cast she joins. Does this necessarily mean she'd be a great addition to The Batman though?
As folks may be well aware by now, there tends to be an uproar when an actor is cast that isn't explicitly like the traditional version of the character. With that said, Maggie Smith is elderly, and English, which seems to be the major things people would most associate Alfred with. The other one would be a character who plays Bruce Wayne's caretaker/butler/assistant throughout his life, and it also doesn't seem like it would be that hard to imagine Maggie Smith in the role.
Alfred's past is typically that he was an actor who became a servant of the Wanye family at the behest of his father. Other stories have made him an intelligence agent, or a man of military experience, but the acting bit has been at the heart of the character from the start. Again, there's not a lot there that really would vastly compromise the character if Maggie Smith were in the role, especially considering how little Alfred is followed in Batman films.
With all that being said, there hasn't been a comics iteration in which Batman's famous butler was actually a housekeeper, or portrayed as a female. This may be why some would argue precedent should mean a man gets the role, even if there are those who support Gerry Conway's idea. In any case, Conway isn't some major decision maker in The Batman's development, so it's just one prominent comic book voice's opinion, but definitely food for thought.
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Should Alfred Pennyworth Be Played By A Woman In The Batman?