Pennyworth, which premieres on Epix July 28, is the backstory to Alfred Pennyworth (played by Bannon), Bruce Wayne's loyal butler, we never knew he needed. Usually, Alfred is played by an old man, stoic yet capable of great quips (read: Michael Caine).
But Alfred was young once – and Pennyworth returns to those days. The 10-part show is set in a stylish 1960s London, where 20something Alfred is reconstructing his civilian life following military service.
Not long after starting a security business, Alfred gets lucky with his first client. He meets billionaire Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) while working at a nightclub — and so begins the rest of his life. Alfred is more than a butler to Wayne. He’s a protector, a soldier, a spy accomplice.
And a total soft boy! For the first time in Batman canon, we see Alfred the lovah. Alfred’s love interest, Esme (Emma Corrin of The Crown), is an aspiring actress. Her posh accent belies their different upbringing. Alfred holds onto her amid class barriers and kidnappings from spy networks — that's love.
This more sensual Alfred is going to surprise anyone who’s stuck with the persistent image of him as an old, single butler. “He’s going to scandalize some people and shock people and challenge people’s conception, especially people who are deeply into the DC canon mythology. We’re going to challenge their perceptions of that character, who he could be and who he was,” executive producer Danny Cannon said to CheatSheet.
Clearly, Pennyworth offers an unusual perspective on Alfred — which is fitting, because Pennyworth is an unusual show. Since Pennyworth was created by the same duo behind FOX's Gotham, some some suspected Pennyworth would be a prequel. Creator Bruno Heller shut that down, saying during winter 2019 TCA, "It’s very much not a companion piece to Gotham. It’s a different genre and different format." Pennyworth stands alone in the ever-crowded Batman universe.
Even if it's not explicitly connected to other shows or movies, Pennyworth nonetheless lays the groundwork for every other Batman story. Until now, we didn't know much about Alfred and Tom's relationship — only that Alfred raises young Bruce after Tom and his wife Martha die. Clearly, Alfred and Tom must have been close. Pennyworth shows us just how close.
Pennyworth is like a superhero show for people who don't like superhero shows (but like Bond movies). Instead of men with capes or expensive gadgets, the show's focal point is someone forced to the rise to the occasion of the extraordinary, while maintaining his adorableness.