Pennyworth Creators Explain Why They Chose Such a Gritty Tone for Alfred's Backstory

The latest TV series based on a comic book focuses on an unlikely hero in a previously unexplored era, with DC Comics' most famous butler stepping into the forefront in the new EPIX series Pennyworth. Done by the same creative team behind Gotham, this series isn't so much a prequel to Batman as much as it is a gritty reimagining of the man behind the bat.

In our review of the first few episodes of Pennyworth, ComicBook's Charlie Ridgely highlights the brutality and shock value of the series, which may be surprising for fans of the character who might be unprepared for such a take.

Ahead of the series premiere tomorrow evening, ComicBook caught up with executive producers Danny Cannon and Bruno Heller at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 to speak about his plans for the new series and why they decided to take Alfred in this direction.

"I don't think DC has ever done '60s England before. We know what Metropolis was like then, we know what Gotham was like then, but we don't know what it was like across the Atlantic," Cannon explained. "That was the great thing when we first started discussing the project, we started talking about what did London look like then. What's happened? Is history the same as it was in our history books or was it slightly different? What has advanced technology-wise? All of these questions were to create a world that these characters could fit into."

Heller revealed a detail that came from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, which makes more sense in the context of what we'll see on Pennyworth.

"Michael Caine insisted on his Alfred being a kick-ass soldier, which hadn't been in the canon before as far as I know. So it gave us an in there. That's why it's dark and violent, because Michael Caine's soul is dark and violent," Heller explained somewhat jokingly.

The series doesn't seem to be taking so much from the comic books, and that's just fine with actor Jack Bannon who avoided the comic book interpretations of his character.

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"Well, it's a daunting list of actors to join," Bannon explained. "But I look at it that I'm not following them because I'm earlier in the story, so they're following me. That gets me off the hook in my head. Bruno had written such a deep and complex version of him anyway, so the script was my bible really, rather than comics. He had some great ideas and we sort of came up with him together."

Pennyworth premieres on EPIX this Sunday, July 28th.

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