Fox's television series Gotham may have begun its life being touted as a tale of Batman's hometown before the caped crusader donned his cape and cowl (focusing instead on the life of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie)), but as the time has passed, the more iconic and well-known characters in DC Comics' mythology have grabbed a firm hold on the spotlight.
First it was the likes of Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), followed soon after by Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), and today the studio has released the first official image of the most important character in Bruce Wayne's life - Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee).
As one of the most recognizable and established characters in Batman fiction, Pennyworth will once again be taking over the duties of raising the orphaned Bruce Wayne - played by David Mazouz - but how this incarnation of the character will differ from previous actors' takes remains to be seen. As we've noted in the past, the adolescent years of Wayne's life are some of the most unexplored in mainstream Batman films, so the Gotham showrunners have some room to maneuver.
Check out the official image of Pertwee in the role of Alfred Pennyworth below (click to enlarge):
The image can be paired with what little is known about Gotham's Alfred, but hints are already being dropped that this version of the trusted butler may be someone more likely to lend a hand in Bruce Wayne's training, and vigilante mission:
Alfred Pennyworth is a tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London who has loyally served the Waynes. Now, in the wake of their tragic deaths, he’s fiercely protective of the young Bruce Wayne.
Michael Caine's most recent performance as Pennyworth opposite Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy will be the most obvious reference for audiences, but Caine's older, more lighthearted (but sensitive) father figure certainly isn't the only take on the character deemed canonical. Over the years, Alfred has been portrayed as everything from a world-weary senior to a gifted boxer and physical specimen in his own right, so fans should expect a blend of the two in Gotham, going by the early signs.
There's no real reason to characterize Alfred as 'tough-as-nails,' or 'fiercely protective' of young Bruce unless viewers will see those traits in action; adding even more evidence to the notion that Mazouz's Bruce will play a significant role in the series (and far more than simply 'crossing paths' with Jim Gordon).
It should be clear why this new take on Alfred hold particular promise for fans, since the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his trusted friend/butler/partner/surrogate father is generally depicted in one of two ways: both mourning the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, or far in the future as Bruce's career as Batman (and Alfred's supporting role) already underway.
But what of Bruce's teenage years? Did he rebel? Was it the death of his parents that set him on the path he would walk for the rest of his life, or was it Alfred's service and protection that nurtured the seed? Questions often overlooked, but perhaps no longer. In essence: was Alfred merely a spectator of Bruce's life, or a mentor and teacher?
That's pure speculation on our part, but a chance to explore an intriguing (but under-utilized) chunk of Bruce Wayne's formative years - even if is just a chance - is still something we're eager to see in action. What do you think of Pertwee's casting? Are you on board to see what sides of Wayne and Pennyworth, if any, they choose to spotlight? Or do you remain skeptical of Gotham's chances? Sound off in the comments.
Gotham is in development and expected to premiere on FOX in Fall 2014.
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