Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, the masterminds behind Batman prequel, Gotham, are staying in the DC Universe a little longer. EPIX has given a straight to series order for Pennyworth, the story of Batman’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and how he came to work for the Wayne family.
No, wait, come back! There’s a rather cool hook to this, as Pennyworth will be a period piece, set in London in the 1960s. It stars Jack Bannon from The Imitation Game in Alfred’s pre-butler days, as he’s just finished toiling as a soldier in the SAS. He goes on to form a security company, and one of his clients just happens to be Batman’s dad, Thomas, naturally.
Here’s the first big trailer for the new series…
Pennyworth release date
The series has set a 28th July premiere date in the US, but there are no UK release details yet. Pennyworth joins a host of superhero prequels at the moment. Warner Bros. is developing Metropolis for its DC Universe streaming service, and Krypton is also chugging along into season 2.
Here’s the official synopsis:
“[Pennyworth] follows Bruce Wayne’s legendary butler, Alfred Pennyworth, a former British SAS soldier who forms a security company and goes to work with Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s billionaire father, in 1960’s London.”
“As genuine fans of these classic DC characters, as well as the incredibly talented Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, we couldn’t be more excited to make EPIX the home of this series,” EPIX President Michael Wright said in a statement. “We can’t wait to work with Bruno and Danny – along with Peter Roth, Susan Rovner, Brett Paul and the team at Warner Horizon – on this fantastic origin story.”
“Michael and his colleagues have created the perfect venue for original storytelling, and all of us working on Pennyworth are thrilled to be on the EPIX slate,” added Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon.
Danny Cannon rolled up to the TCA press tour recently to chat about all things Pennyworth, and Deadline was there to report it.
“It’s a very different world,” Cannon confirmed. “His is the DC version of 1960s London … history is different: It’s not the England we know. It looks and feels like it, but if you look a little closer, [you ask], ‘Why is that like that? Why is that building there? What war is he talking about?’” This strange version of London is very deliberate. “Just like I wanted people in Gotham to search for the darkest part of New York.”
This series is going to be quite different to Gotham, for sure, as it promises to be “unhinged” and “R-rated”, and we’ll encounter “archetypal villains and classic villains of British literature” as the story moves along.
Alfred’s main antagonist will be Paloma Faith as Bet Sykes, a “spirited, sadistic and sharp-tongued villain” whose sister is a dominatrix. Lock Stock‘s Jason Flemyng has also landed a villainous role as Lord Harwood.
Cannon added that things were going really well during production. “We had a test audience and there were only so many who knew it was a DC-related series. It was incredibly positive and that’s because the characters are being drawn out. There’s so much to draw from and so much to imagine.”