ITOL’s Cinematic Dads: Alfred Pennyworth

For Father’s Day we asked some of our ITOL team to write about their favourite cinematic Dads. Here’s Kate Boyles’s piece on a father figure in the form of Alfred Pennyworth, AKA Batman’s BFF.

Not all important male figures in a child’s life are their biological parent. Often a Step-Father or father figure is equally valuable, especially in situations where a child has lost their parent or their father is not present in their life. A prime film example is Alfred Pennyworth from various Batman adaptations. My two favorite versions of this character are in “Batman Begins” (2005) played by Michael Caine and in the TV show “Gotham” (2014-2019) portrayed by Sean Pertwee.

Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) © 2012 WARNER BROS

In all adaptations, Alfred is the faithful butler to the wealthy Wayne family. Alfred assumes custody of young Bruce Wayne after his mother and father are tragically killed. In most Batman movies we see a small clip of Bruce as a child losing his parents, then fast forward to his adult Batman-ing years. On the outside Alfred is always the proper but witty British butler- occasionally giving us hints at how much he considers Bruce a son.

“Not all important male figures in a child’s life are their biological parent. Often a Step-Father or father figure is equally valuable, especially in situations where a child has lost their parent or their father is not present in their life.”

Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014) © 2014 WARNER BROS

In “Gotham” we see a lot more of Bruce’s childhood years dealing with the loss of his parents and Alfred’s new role as surrogate dad. We get to see the conflict and adjustments both Bruce and Alfred have to make as they are thrown into a position neither of them expected. The best father / son relationships on screen are the realistic or heartfelt ones, which Alfred’s character manages to do no matter what film or TV show he’s in.

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