Alfred Pennyworth has been a mainstay of the Batman franchise since 1943 and while various elements of the property have changed over the decades, he’s remained largely the same.
Everyone can picture the faithful English butler, with the most high-profile cinematic examples being Michael Gough’s four movie stint in the 90s, Jeremy Irons’ recent turn in the DCEU and, probably the best to date, Michael Caine’s take in the Nolan-verse. But right now, there’s an interesting discussion that’s wondering whether it’s time for a female Alfred in The Batman. A Freda Pennyworth, if you will.
The idea arose when comic book writer and artist Bryan Hitch asked who would be a good match for Robert Pattinson’s Batman? Punisher creator Gerry Conway replied: “Hear me out. Maggie Smith.” The idea was a hit, racking up the retweets and positive comments online.
Conway then continued on with the proposal in later posts, writing:
“Emma [Thompson] already has a franchise now: MIB. Maggie is younger than Michael Caine but point taken. Caine was 70 when he played Alfred in Batman Begins. Who’s a great British actress in her 60s? How about Kristin Scott Thomas? Julie Waters? Emily Watson? Miranda Richardson?”
All of those actresses could absolutely knock the role out of the park. Though let’s be honest, Kristin Scott Thomas’ Alfred would eat Robert Pattinson alive. I can also imagine Emily Watson in the part, following on from her career-best work in Chernobyl. It’d also nicely shake up the established Batman mythos and provide a unique dimension for Pattinson’s Batman’s past.
On the other hand, there’s the obvious notion that Bruce Wayne having a live-in servant tending to his every whim suddenly comes off a little creepy when the character’s a woman. If they were to go this route, then they’d have to be sure to make sure she wasn’t some physically useless damsel-in-distress. It’d be quite the difficult tightrope to balance on, though I have faith the right writer could tackle it.
In any case, I don’t think this is going to actually happen (even though the internet seemingly wants it to), but it’s certainly interesting to think about and if you have any other actresses in mind who’d be perfect for a female Alfred in The Batman, be sure to let us know in the comments.