Batman's future butler Alfred goes up against a surprising foe in Epix's Pennyworth prequel series - Jack the Ripper. Pennyworth reimagines Jack the Ripper, a notorious serial killer from the Victorian era in England, as a crime boss in the 1960s.
The Batman prequel series explores the early life of Alfred Pennyworth, the Caped Crusader's legendary butler. Much like Michael Caine's take on the character in the The Dark Knight trilogy, Jack Bannon's Alfred is a former SAS soldier with a Cockney accent. So far, the ten-episode first season follows Alfred as he starts a security firm in 1960s London and befriends the future father of Batman, Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge). When Pennyworth begins, Alfred is struggling to get his new company off the ground. But that doesn't mean his life isn't full of excitement.
Pennyworth's second episode, "The Landlord's Daughter", introduces a crime lord named John Ripper, played by Danny Webb. Alfred takes his first job when a waitress is repeatedly harassed by Ripper's nephew, Jason. Though everyone in town is afraid of Ripper, Alfred concocts a scheme to get rid of Jason without direct conflict with Ripper. By tricking Jason into betraying Ripper, Alfred succeeds in completing his first job. Afterward, Alfred makes a deal with Ripper that allows him to do business in Ripper's territory.
It doesn't take long for audiences to notice the similarities between John Ripper and Jack the Ripper. Both are serial killers who operated in the Whitechapel district of London, and both favored killing their victims by cutting them open. The most obvious difference, of course, is that Pennyworth's John Ripper exists in the 1960s, nearly a century after the real Whitechapel murders - the ones Jack the Ripper is known for - which happened between 1888 and 1891. Also, "Jack the Ripper" was a name ascribed to the serial killer by the media, whereas in Pennyworth, "Ripper" is the character's actual surname.
DC Comics has dealt with Jack the Ripper before. One particular story, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, pitted Batman against Jack the Ripper by reimagining Gotham City as a Victorian society. Pennyworth reverses this concept by bringing Jack the Ripper to the 1960s. The show's decision to tackle a historical figure 80 years after his time is likely to cause confusion for viewers familiar with Jack the Ripper and the infamous Whitechapel murders. However, it should be noted that Pennyworth is set in the DC Universe rather than the real world, which means that the show is free to play with history and create their own version of the mysterious serial killer.