When Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was released earlier this year, it was met with a mixed response. Despite pulling in an impressive amount at the box office, critics didn’t much care for it while general audiences and DC Comics fans alike were split. Still, most moviegoers agreed that Ben Affleck’s role as the Dark Knight and Jeremy Irons’ role as Alfred Pennyworth were two of the strongest elements of the film. Their relationship and interactions marked a stark contrast from the rest of the film, and immediately instigated buzz about the two needing their own movie.
When news broke that Alfred would be assisting Bruce in next year’s Justice League, the question on everyone’s mind was when would the two team up in a solo vehicle, tackling the scourge of crime in Gotham. Since then, we not only learned that DC head honcho Geoff Johns would be co-writing the script for The Batman with its star, but that Affleck himself would handle directing duties. Then came news that Joe Manganiello would be playing the antagonist of the movie, mercenary Slade Wilson, better known as DC villain Deathstroke. And just a few days ago, we got word that Justice League 2 was being bumped to allow the Caped Crusader some much needed time in the spotlight, which was just confirmed by the WB higher-ups.
With such an exciting year for Batman, Alfred, and the whole of the burgeoning DCEU, IGN decided to ask Irons what his take on it all has been when they caught up with him during his press tour for Assassin’s Creed. Irons revealed what his character thinks amidst all the super-powered beings joining the ranks of the Justice League:
I think he’s waiting with baited breath to see what is going to happen. He’s in the employ of Bruce Wayne and he doesn’t always agree with him but I think he’ll help where he can. And I’m not sure in Justice League we’ll see that much of him because we have five superheroes to deal with and Alfred is just the batman [a term for the soldier-servant of a commissioned officer in the British military] of one of them. It’ll be very interesting to see where he gets to, when we get to Ben’s production of Batman this spring. I haven’t read the script of it yet. I think all of us who are sort of normal human beings, which Alfred is, we watch the gods with amazement and some spite.
Though Irons tries to temper expectations about his part in the midst of so many legendary heroes, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he looks to be mixing it up quite a bit in next summer’s blockbuster. Irons went on to detail how he’s grounded his version of the character in such a fantastical world.
Alfred is a very hands-on… what I based Alfred on really was a close neighbor of mine, used to be before he died, Paul Getty. I remember the first time I went to dinner with him. I reached gates and a very kind gentleman took my car and parked it. I walked in and another very kind gentleman took my coat. And then Paul showed us through the hall and another very kind gentleman gave me a glass of champagne and then a very kind gentleman served us dinner. I learned during the evening that every kind gentleman who had been taking care of me was actually an ex-SAS member who was there to protect Paul. I thought, yeah, that’s Alfred really. He’s there. He’ll do anything. That’s where he comes from. That’s his mindset. He’ll wash the dishes, but he’ll also be a tail gunner.
It’s interesting to hear that Irons’ take on Alfred as a former military man comes from real-life experience. That piece of backstory has long been added to Batman canon, even playing a role in Sean Pertwee’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne’s oldest friend and confidant in Fox’s Gotham. Still, it’s always exciting to hear that an actor is pulling from such a visceral and emotional place. While Justice League might not highlight Bruce and Alfred’s dynamic as much as fans would like, 2018’s The Batman is sure to delve deep into their relationship, both the convivial side and the confrontational one. Before IGN let the subject go, they asked Irons his thoughts on the solo film’s choice of villains.
I’m just interested. I’m interested and I’d hold judgement until I read the script. We will see. Ben’s a great consummate director and I’ll be fascinated to see what he comes up with.
Given the praise Affleck has received for his directorial work on movies like Argo, it’s no surprise that Irons has faith in the filmmaker. That said, a vote of confidence from an actor of his caliber will surely reassure fans as we await both new films. Until then, we’ll bring you all the latest news on both Justice League and The Batman as it emerges.