WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the series premiere of Pennyworth, which aired Sundays on Epix.
The Epix series Pennyworth takes a trip back in time to reveal the origins of Bruce Wayne's trusted friend, mentor and father figure, Alfred Pennyworth. The series is a period piece, and is not meant to feature Batman in anyway. Instead, it explores the younger days of Bruce's future butler, and his own ill-fated father, Thomas Wayne.
Pennyworth is the story of a young man just fresh out of the British army. He's a bit lost, and struggling to found a security firm. It's a long way from the trusted adviser to the world's greatest detective, but already we see traces of the man he will become, and the superhero he will help groom. But the Epix series doesn't follow one specific comic series -- instead, it gives its own spin on Alfred's backstory.
In the opening minutes of the premiere, Alfred comes across Thomas Wayne, sparking a relationship that will lead to the rise of one of the DC Universe's greatest superheroes. But how does their meeting compare to the comic books?
Aflred Pennyworth: Soldier and Stage Actor
In the comic books, Alfred has had multiple origin stories throughout the years. As relaunches and continuity changes were made, so too was Alfred's backstory modified. He was originally named Alfred Beagle, and he was a British intelligence officer who gave up everything to honor his father's dying wish to serve the Waynes, a family tradition.
In later versions, Alfred was said to have worked for the British royal family, and the Waynes hired him to work for them in Gotham. Then, he was reimagined as a renowned stage actor, who then went on to become the Wayne family's butler at the behest of his dying father.
Then, a more recent version of the character saw a merging of these two prevailing backstories: Alfred was now once a soldier and spy, and took up stage acting after retiring from a life of action. It was only when his dying father pleaded him to honor his family's tradition to serve the Waynes that Alfred gave up his passion to move to Gotham City.
A New Origin Story
While Pennyworth uses some elements from Alfred's comic book backstory, it changes things up. Yes, Alfred is former British SAS military, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. Instead of taking up acting, he's looking to put his skills to good use as a security contractor. His family has no connection to the Waynes whatsoever -- in fact, Alfred's father warns him to find a job, lest he end up becoming a butler. The exchange is obviously meant as a fun nod to the character's inevitable future, but it also reaffirms that this take on his origin is much different.
One night, working as a bouncer at a nightclub, Alfred runs into Thomas Wayne after helping his sister. Impressed with his skills, Thomas offers Alfred his card, should he need anything. And the rest, as they say, is pretty much history.
Pennyworth then takes the changes even further by having Thomas fall right into the middle of a criminal conspiracy in London. The two characters are forced together by circumstance, after Alfred's girlfriend is taken by kidnappers who demand Thomas in exchange. Thankfully, Alfred's skills are enough to bring everyone home -- but this is only the beginning.
Thomas and Alfred are now in each other's orbit, and their work together will be further explored until, eventually, the Wayne patriarch invites the Englishman home, to Gotham City.
Starring Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Ryan Fletcher, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett, Paloma Faith, Emma Paetz, Polly Walker and Jason Flemyng, Pennyworth premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Epix.