There's no end to the rich Batman universe, which has a seemingly endless supply of tangential plots from which we could extract spin-offs and reboots until the end of time. If you're a fan, this is extremely exciting to think about, especially when you consider the upcoming Pennyworth TV show. Bob Kane and Bill Finger's drama is set to be unveiled this June, so we'll have to wait until then to find out what the show will truly be like.
We do know that the show will be based on the beloved DC characters we know and love, particularly Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's beloved butler. The show will obviously have to include new faces, given its setting in 1960s London, but we do know a few of the characters we'll get to know during the program's first season. We also know a few other key details.
Pennyworth, of course, refers to Alfred Pennyworth of the Batman universe. At the beginning of the show, Alfred is supposed to be a cheerful young man who is charming and clever. The program will follow his journey into his 20s as he transforms from a British SAS soldier into some sort of businessman who goes into business with Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas Wayne.
The two form a security company, which may be where Wayne learned to trust Alfred. Jack Bannon of the film The Imitation Game and TV shows like The Loch, Endeavor and Medici will be portraying Alfred in his younger years.
Prequels are all the rage right now, and following the success of the gritty TV show Gotham, Pennyworth will likely give us some insight into not only Alfred's past but the early life of the Wayne family. It's supposed to be a really retro program with an R-rating per the new popular trend to portray more violent comic arcs in films and TV.
That's not to say that the show will feature any actual comic arcs. On the contrary, it's only been announced that the show will be based on characters from the DC universe and not plots, so we will likely see a bunch of brand new stories as well as nods to what we already know.
We know of at least two villains in Pennyworth. One of them, Lord Harwood, will be played by X-Men: First Class's Jason Flemyng, whom we've also seen in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Stardust and other films. The other, Bet Sykes, is set to be played by Paloma Faith. Fans of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus might remember her as Sally, but she's better known as the award-winning English singer and songwriter of UK top 10 singles like "Can't Rely on You" and "Only Love Can Hurt Like This."
Neither of these characters are canon from the pages of DC--yet. Who knows, maybe they will be written into the comic books if the show goes well.
A dominatrix named Peggy Sykes is set to be in Pennyworth and John Carter's Polly Walker will be playing her. Walker has been also seen in Prisoners' Wives, Rome and Clash of the Titans. Sykes is supposed to be an infamous member of her profession who is in high demand.
There is speculation about the character being the sort who toes the line between good and evil, as well as being someone whom Alfred might consider an ally at times. It's a popular theme in the Batman universe, used in women like Catwoman and Fish Mooney, so it would make sense to appear in this show, too.
Better known as Captain James on the war drama series Our Girl and a jerk on the comedy-drama Fleabag, Ben Aldridge is set to play the role of billionaire Thomas Wayne, father of Bruce Wayne, on the show. According to his Epix character profile, Thomas Wayne is "a clean-cut, fresh-faced, east coast aristocrat" who is an honorable man, details that we pretty much already know from the Batman universe.
Wayne is "square, disciplined and punctilious," and extremely polite, although he also has an imperious air. He definitely does not go by Tom Wayne, as his friends are even known to refer to him as Thomas.
According to Epix, Lord Harwood is an "upper-class Englishman" who is "cultured, urbane, brilliant and supremely sure of himself." Harwood is sure to be a villain who appears suave on the surface, as his "sadistic, cruel nature has a veneer of charm." We've certainly seen our share of villains with these traits, so it will be interesting to see how this character interacts with Pennyworth and Wayne.
It almost sounds like a Lex Luthor type of nemesis, except he's super British. It's possible that Harwood could be a gang leader type of character, too, which would mean some colorful goons and plenty of Alfred learning how to kick some butt on the job.
Bet Sykes sounds like the kind of villain you don't want to meet in a dark alley, but that you will want to tune in to see give the good guys a hard time every week. According to Epix, she is supposed to be "a spirited, sadistic and sharp-tongued villain," as well as a "fearsome blonde with a hard, handsome face under fierce eyebrows."
She's also described as "wonderfully wicked" and "dark," so hopefully she'll give us the kind of villain that we'll all love to hate. We look forward to hearing what kind of quick quips she'll come up with, too.
If you love Gotham, chances are you'll also love Pennyworth. Both Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon are on the team bringing the series to life. Fans of Gotham may already know that Heller, Pennyworth's executive producer and writer, is also behind series like Rome and The Mentalist. Cannon, the new series' executive producer and director, has also worked on CSI.
This isn't a stretch, given that both shows are meant to be of the darker, more comic vibe, and both are prequels set in the same DC universe. The time difference, as well as the location of the show, will make it more interesting when comparing the two.
Aside from all of Alfred's many other hats, apparently he was once a bouncer at a nightclub in London. This is where he is supposed to meet Thomas Wayne during a "chance encounter." Bruno Keller says that they were able to explore a surprising depth and range of the beloved butler, and that some of the pressure was relieved since we've never witnessed Alfred portrayed at this age before.
Previous versions of Pennyworth have been played by everyone from Jeremy Irons to Michael Caine. Michael Gough, Alan Napier and Sean Pertwee have also portrayed the character. Given how young he is, and given that the show takes place in post-war London, this will be a new, youthful version we haven't seen yet.
After seeing so many episodes of Gotham, a series with 22 episodes per season, it feels as if 10 episodes isn't much for a premiere season, but when we compare it to the many Marvel Netflix shows that have been released, it seems much more standard issue. As violent and gripping as the show is rumored to be, 10 episodes might feel a lot longer once the season's over.
It also seems normal for a company like Warner Horizon Scripted Television, which also released 10 episodes of Krypton, another DC prequel, on Syfy last year. Episode titles have yet to be released, but each episode will be one hour long.