Epix's Batman prequel show Pennyworth explores the early life of the man who will eventually become Bruce Wayne's butler and confidant - which has led many to wonder if it's a direct prequel to any of the existing Batman TV shows and movies. The obvious ones that spring to mind are the Dark Knight trilogy, and FOX's Gotham, which has the same showrunners as Pennyworth. However, executive producer Danny Cannon has said that Pennyworth is a standalone show and has no connection to Gotham.
Pennyworth stars Jack Bannon in the title role as Alfred Pennyworth, an ex-SAS soldier who forms a security company in 1960s London, which in turn leads him to cross paths with Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge). The series will reveal how Alfred came to work for the Wayne family, as well as exploring his exciting former life of action and espionage that has been shown in the comics. The show was created by Bruno Heller, who also created Gotham for Fox, and executive produced by Gotham's Danny Cannon, which is a pretty strong link between the two prequel shows.
In the teasers for Pennyworth, Bannon's take on the character has a broad London accent, in contrast to the posher Alfred played by Michael Gough in the first four Batman movies. In the Dark Knight trilogy, Alfred was played by Michael Caine, who delivered the performance in his natural cockney accent - a radical shift for the character. Bannon's accent is much closer to Sean Pertwee's Alfred in Gotham, which fits with the idea that Pennyworth could be a prequel to the FOX prequel show. But while it might be fun for fans to think of it that way, and even come up with theories connecting them, they shouldn't expect any actual crossover elements.
Speaking at the Winter 2019 Television Critics Association press tour, Heller stated plainly that, "It’s very much not a companion piece to Gotham. It’s a different genre and different format." Whereas Gotham was a frequently wacky comic book show with outlandish characters like the (sort of) Joker, Penguin, and the Riddler, Pennyworth will be more of a gritty crime drama, and Cannon said that it will be "standalone." That being said, Pennyworth is set so far back in the past that there's nothing to stop fans from treating it like a Gotham prequel, since there are unlikely to be any direct contradictions to that idea.
With that in mind, however, Pennyworth may actually fit better as a prequel to the Dark Knight trilogy, which similarly took a more down-to-earth approach that eschewed the more wacky and camp elements of the comics. Alfred had a strong character arc throughout the three Dark Knight movies as he provided emotional guidance for the troubled orphan who had been left in his care, and got a poignant send off at the end of The Dark Knight Rises when he saw Bruce finally living a peaceful life in Italy.
Pennyworth can lay the groundwork for that character arc by developing the relationship between Alfred and Thomas Wayne - something that we've seen very little of in the past, given that most Batman stories begin with Thomas getting shot in an alleyway. By showing how Alfred first met Bruce's father, and the friendship that developed between them, we can gain a better understanding of why Alfred eventually came to be a surrogate father figure for Thomas' son.
Pennyworth premieres Sunday, July 28 @9pm on EPIX.