Even though director Zack Snyder showed from the very start he was looking to make some shocking casting choices for his Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie universe, fans were taken aback by one casting in particular: Jesse Eisenberg as iconic Superman foe Lex Luthor. So taken aback, it seemed, that Jeremy Irons (Margin Call, Lolita) being cast to play Batman's butler, Alfred Pennyworth was overlooked by many.
It's only right that the changes coming to Ben Affleck's Batman would take up much of the spotlight, and that Eisenberg's new take on Luthor should garner attention. But Irons has kept mostly silent about his part, and what influences he would (or wouldn't) be taking from the past actors in the role - until now.
Speaking with THR, Irons didn't offer any insights into the rumored shooting locations centered on Ben Affleck's new Bruce Wayne, ranging from iconic moments in the hero's origin story, to some brand new twists. However, he did reveal that those fans expecting Irons to follow the path walked by Michael Caine (Batman Begins) and Michael Gough (Batman) before him are in for a surprise:
"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."
There's also a bit of bad news for those comic book fans who feel that Irons has exactly the stature and style required to offer a refreshing take on the Bruce/Alfred dynamic, as the actor revealed that his role in Dawn of Justice is "not a large one." That's not too surprising, given that audiences (and Snyder himself) seem most interested in the showdown between DC Comics' biggest stars - and Wonder Woman, for good measure.
However, Irons' description of Alfred being "more hands-on" this time around implies that while he may not get much screen-time, it will be easy to spot the differences in his character's view of Bruce Wayne's nocturnal activities (assuming this isn't all misdirection). That may not mean that Alfred will accompany Bruce into underground fighting rings, but some first aid, or implied support in the field - perhaps fleshed out in a coming Batman solo film - may be in the cards.
It would be fair to say that compared to Gough's portrayal (seen from Batman through to Batman & Robin), the Alfred of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy was remarkably "hands-on"; helping Bruce assemble his armor, the Batcave, and even retrieving him from the battlefield on occasion. If Irons is claiming that Dawn of Justice will take things even farther, then perhaps Alfred's experience in the Royal Marines will warrant him a spot as Bruce's... 'bodyguard'?
Comic fans have gotten a taste of what a rougher, tougher Alfred Pennyworth can bring to the table in Fox's Gotham, implying that Bruce Wayne will wind up learning much of his combat and survival skills from his would-be guardian. Since Affleck's Wayne will be much more seasoned than fans are used to seeing in live action, then their relationship will be one honed over decades. Beyond that, we'll have to wait until Irons (or Affleck, or Snyder) reveal more.
What do you make of Irons' comments? Are you eager to see what this new version of Alfred will entail, or does the smaller nature of the role keep your attention on another starring characters? Share your own thoughts and predictions in the comments below.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters on March 25, 2016.
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