Fans of Batman know how crucial certain elements of the Caped Crusader’s life are to the character, such as Wayne Manner, his bat-weapons, and the Batmobile. Another necessary force of order in Bruce's life is his longtime friend and surrogate father Alfred Pennyworth. Any Batman project without Alfred simply feels empty and misdirected, much like Bruce Wayne would be in lieu of his associate. However, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice introduced a slightly different version of Alfred than many fans were used to. Jeremy Irons’ Alfred still had a ring of fatherly advice to him but also trained Bruce and acted as a military tactician in his crime fighting efforts.
In a recent interview, Irons spoke to Variety about his latest project, The Man Who Knew Infinity, where he portrays a Cambridge professor who takes an autodidactic math whiz under his wing. Naturally, the Tony, Emmy, and Oscar Award-winning actor also discussed his future and past roles in the DC Extended Universe, including an anticipated juicier role in The Batman. The lauded thespian also talked about how he approached the markedly different Wayne aide-de-camp in last spring’s DC smash-up. Irons said:
“I remember an evening with Paul Getty, who was a neighbor of mine, now sadly dead. We drove up to his lovely house. A very nice gentleman opened up the car door. Then another very nice gentleman took the car and parked it somewhere. Another nice gentleman took my coat. And then another nice gentleman gave me a glass of champagne. And all those nice gentleman were SAS. I thought, that’s Alfred. He’s a man who will take care of his boss, whether he’s making coffee or pouring champagne or flying his airplane.”
It makes sense that Irons would channel his experience with a friendly yet highly effective soldier-attendant from the British Special Air Service. The latest Alfred is a charming member of the Wayne family, but also a master strategist, helping the Caped Crusader prepare to take down Superman. As a notable part of Bruce's life, Irons ought to have more to do in the upcoming Bat-related films as well. He told Variety that Justice League means scant action for him, but not The Batman:
“Of course, Ben’s going to make a Batman film next summer. He promises me there’s going to be a bit more of Alfred in that. In the Justice League we have seven major lead characters and I’m the butler to one of them. It’s clear I will not be dominating that film.”
With such a character-stuffed film, it’s certainly understandable, if unfortunate, that Alfred won’t get much screen time in the joint superhero project. Hopefully, Irons’ role in The Batman will more than make up for it, though. While the actor generally prefers more low-key films over the hype and publicity of major pictures, he did say he’s enjoyed his time with Affleck and director Zack Snyder thus far. Irons is also surprisingly nonchalant about the critical treatment Batman V Superman received, saying he’s more concerned with overall fan enjoyment. He told Variety:
“I was very pleased by the numbers. Zack seems to get a hard time from the press, which is strange. I don’t know if it has to do with the sort of secrecy that surrounds the making of it all. But the audience liked it, which in the end is all that matters.”
In the long run, the true test of BVS will be how well it holds up over time, as well as how its follow-ups build upon the shared universe it began. Warner Bros. seems to have sloughed their early troubles and is forging ahead with their burgeoning DCEU. Even though Irons only had a few moments in Batman V Superman, his talent and conviction added immeasurably to the film. Alfred was, in essence, the voice of reason after Bruce Wayne’s nightmarish vision narrowed his perspective, Batman's conscience in essence, a role he’s typically embodied throughout the decades.
It’s great to know that an actor of Irons' caliber will stay on to advise Affleck’s Batman in future. Warner and DC will need high-powered actors like Irons, Affleck, and Gal Gadot, along with top-notch directors and writers, to ensure that their cinematic universe remains an exciting and richly resonant realm.