It's a question I've seen commonly over the past 24 hours. Everyone is buzzing with excitement about Gotham - which, in my opinion, is off to an excellent start- but every now and then I see a little unease at Sean Pertwee's Alfred Pennyworth in the new show (featured below). The guy is, after all, pretty hardcore.
In the pilot, we see a rough, gruff and brusque Alfred who ultimately seems to have a caring heart beneath that grizzly exterior. On top of this, he has more of a Cockney accent, and uses slang like "bloody" or "mate" (we've heard the former used by Alfred before, even if more, ah, properly, in Batman Begins.) Straight off we see Bruce running to him, Alfred fiercely protective, and then later we see him again putting Bruce in his place as he stands on the roof of Wayne Manor - "Oi! Get your bloody arse down from there!" He yells to him, one of the memorable lines of the pilot. He is somewhat curt to Gordon later in the episode, even though originally amiable, but seems to respect Bruce's opinion and judgement primarily, even at just ten years old.
Because this portrayal is quite unlike any Alfred we've ever seen in live action, people have responded in shock, mostly of a positive nature, but a lot of people are unsure. Despite this, the vast majority seem to be quite unaware of the Alfred which the creators of Gotham are using (even though most seem to love him). And I have to say, it's a fairly inspired decision, and certainly a creative one which is quite refreshing.
In Batman: Earth One, a very similar Alfred is present.
In this story, we see Batman starting out, so later in the time frame than Gotham, but the whole origin story vibe is quite similar to the show. And Alfred is, as he is in Gotham, a militaristic, rough, tough as nails ex-marine. Unlike in other versions where we see Alfred acting as solely the moral compass and his faithful companion, providing comic relief- a version which I do love, don't get me wrong- here Alfred also plays a crucial role in training and quite frankly disciplining the young Bruce Wayne.
This version of Alfred in other angles even bears some resemblance to Pertwee- who, regardless of whether you like his character, has some serious acting chops- and the description of Alfred when originally announced for the show seems pretty much identical to this one. The Alfred we see here is very different, but at the same time very similar to the Alfred we know. His exterior shocked many, but on the inside I think you'll find Alfred is the same Alfred we always know, whose real one true focus is solely on keeping Bruce safe.
- 'Gotham' Confirms Jerome Is The Joker As Bruce Becomes A Hero In Jaw-Dropping Winter Finale Trailer
- This Amazing Fan Edit Gives Us Our First Look At Cameron Monaghan's Joker On 'Gotham'
- #Gotham News & All You Need To Know
I personally applaud the creators of Gotham for daring to take a route for the character we've never seen in live action. It's a risk, just as the general premise of the show has always been a gambit, but I think it's safe to say they know what they're doing, and it will ultimately pay off. With performances from the likes of Robin Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot or Pertwee's Alfred, I wouldn't be surprised if these versions of the character become mainstream and in a sense definitive. On another note, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fish Mooney one day entering origin comics, given the reception to the character, just as Harley Quinn made her grand entrance from Batman: The Animated Series or the tragic, now iconic version of Mr Freeze which spawned from the same show. Keep your mind open to differences: [Gotham](series:1127075) is telling its own stories while remaining true to its comic roots, and so far it's done a very good job at it.
Perhaps some great, truly memorable portrayals may emerge from it, from the likes of a new take on Alfred, or a fantastically realized Harvey Bullock, to the first look at Hugo Strange in live action which the producers have confirmed.
Let me know what you thought of Alfred, or the whole pilot, in the comments! (Edit: Now, seven episodes in, Alfred seems to consistently be a favourite. Sean Pertwee's doing an awesome job!)