In 2014, The LEGO Movie surpassed even the most optimistic expectations and became one of the most beloved films of the year. Raking in $468.7 million at the worldwide box office and earning universal critical acclaim, it became an unlikely franchise starter – and Warner Bros. is looking to expand the property in a variety of ways.
In addition to The LEGO Movie Sequel (slated for a 2018 release), WB is also developing a LEGO Batman spinoff starring Will Arnett’s well-received version of the Caped Crusader from the first LEGO Movie. Recently, the project has been adding high-profile names like Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, and Rosario Dawson to round out its voice cast. Now, another famous actor has joined their ranks to play Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler.
THR is reporting that Ralph Fiennes has signed on to voice Alfred Pennyworth in LEGO Batman. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans that Alfred is the latest addition to the film. Thus far, the new characters have all been key parts of the Batman mythos (Robin, the Joker, and Batgirl), so it was only a matter of time before director Chris McKay found his Alfred. After all, it’s hard to imagine a Batman movie that doesn’t feature Bruce’s surrogate father.
Fiennes should prove to be a worthy choice for the role. The British thespian has typically displayed a prim and proper demeanor throughout his career, and has experience playing authoritative figures. He also showed in The Grand Budapest Hotel that he has a knack for comedic timing, meaning that he possesses a variety of talents that are necessary for playing the Alfred character. As Bruce’s guardian, he does watch over his Master Wayne with a serious eye, but always finds ways to inject levity into situations (see: Michael Caine in the Dark Knight trilogy).
It will be interesting to see what role Alfred plays in the LEGO Batman film. The movie will reportedly acknowledge every era of Batman on film, meaning LEGO Alfred may be an amalgamation of his various live-action counterparts. While we don’t expect the relationship between Bruce and Alfred to be quite as complex in an animated family film when compared to what’s come before, the hope here is that the script – from Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) – allows Fiennes to do more than whip a couple of one-liners around.
So far, the LEGO Batman creative team seems to be on the right track. They’ve attracted a star-studded voice acting roster, and Arnett’s Batman was a standout in the first LEGO Movie. McKay was also the animation supervisor on that film, so it’s safe to say he has a pretty good understanding of what makes this particular cinematic “universe” work.
LEGO Batman opens in U.S. theaters on February 10th, 2017, followed by Ninjago on September 22nd, 2017, The LEGO Movie Sequel on May 18th, 2018, and Billion Brick Race on May 24th, 2019.