- "That's how it starts, sir. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men... cruel."
- ―Alfred Pennyworth[src]
Alfred Pennyworth is the butler, mentor, surrogate father, and close friend of Bruce Wayne. Alfred has served with the Wayne family since before Bruce was born. After Bruce was left orphaned from the murder of both of his parents when he was a boy, Alfred watched over him as a parental figure, watching him grow and mature, assisting him in his quest to become "The Batman," and later the new members of the Batman Family.
Alfred was born in England, in the middle of the 20th century. As a young man, he would join his country's armed forces, and shortly thereafter, the SAS special forces, where Alfred would receive training in intelligence gathering, field medicine, weaponry, as well as the ability to pilot all sorts of vehicles and aircraft.
Employed by the Waynes
At some point, Alfred retired from the British Armed Force and moved to the United States of America, where he became the butler and bodyguard to Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, billionaire philanthropists from Gotham City. Sometime later, they had their only child, Bruce, whom Alfred would come to mentor.
Raising and Mentoring Bruce
In 1981, the Waynes were murdered by a mugger, whilst taking a young Bruce to see a showing of "The Mark of Zorro" at the Aragon Theater. Alfred was placed as the legal guardian to Bruce. The young boy's anger at the death of his parents and the blame he placed on himself was apparent to see, and he proclaimed that he would rid Gotham City of the criminal and the corrupt, and asked Alfred for his help.
Bruce would stay true to his word, eventually becoming the vigilante "Batman" as an adult, with Alfred's SAS training allowing him to help Bruce build his numerous high-tech gadgets, to operate the Batcomputer, and to give Bruce pertinent advice during the latter's missions in his one-man anti-crime crusade.
The "White Portuguese"
- "We're criminals, Alfred. We've always been criminals. Nothing's changed."
"Oh, yes it has, sir. Everything's changed. Men fall from the sky, the gods hurl thunderbolts, innocents die. That's how it starts, sir. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men... cruel.""
- ―Bruce and Alfred[src]
18 months after the Black Zero Event, and 20 years after becoming Batman, Alfred and Bruce continue their mission to combat organized crime in Gotham City as well as preparing countermeasures against the perceived threat of Superman. Alfred operates on the Armored Batsuit while he and Bruce discuss Anatoli Knyazev and his connection to the "White Portuguese", though Alfred himself speculated that this person might not even actually exist, instead being a mere "phantasm".
Lex Luthor's Fundraiser
- ""The Bat interrogated six people and came away with nothing. It was Bruce Wayne that got the information."
"Well, Bruce Wayne can't break into Lex Luthor's house."
"Bruce Wayne won't have to. He's been invited.""
- ―Bruce and Alfred[src]
When Bruce Wayne is invited to a social gathering by Lex Luthor, Alfred guides him via earpiece through Lex's house and plants a data drive in Lex's computer servers to extract information regarding the "White Portuguese". However, Diana Prince steals the drive and leaves before Bruce or Alfred could decrypt it.
Conflict with Bruce
Later, after Diana returns the drive to Bruce, he decrypts the drive and tells Alfred that the "White Portuguese" is actually the name of a ship carrying a large nugget of Kryptonite from the wreckage of the World Engine to Lex Luthor, which is capable of significantly weakening Superman. Alfred vehemently protests Bruce's decision to combat Superman, believing that he is not an enemy of humanity. He pleads to Bruce to change his mind, saying that it would be suicide to try to kill the Man of Steel, though Bruce remains stubborn.
US Capitol Bombing
When the Capital bombing occurred, Alfred saw it on the news in the Glasshouse and also saw the checks that Wallace Keefe sent back with hate messages, Alfred then knows that Bruce has snapped, and can only look on as Bruce prepares for his battle.
Second Conflict with Bruce
- "You know you can't win this - it's suicide!"
With his physical preparation complete, Bruce retreats to mentally prepare for his duel with Superman at the abandoned Wayne Manor, where he is found by Alfred, who once more attempts to implore Bruce to stop, claiming that Batman cannot win such a confrontation, with it being "suicide". Bruce grimly responds saying that he is now older than his father Thomas Wayne had ever been, and that this might be the only thing Bruce does that actually matters, since despite Batman having defeated numerous Gotham City criminals and supervillains over the last 20 years, "criminals are like weeds", in that if 1 is pulled up, another grows in its place, while Superman has the potential to become the most formidable supervillain in history, so taking him down before that happens is "about the future of the world", something Bruce sees as "[Batman's] legacy". Bruce then grimly muses at how his father had once told him that despite the Wayne Manor itself being built on railways, real estates and oil, the first generation of Waynes had made their fortune as hunters, trading pelts and skins with the French. Thus, Bruce not only hopes to live up to his father by taking Superman down, but also feels kinship with his ancestors, as a hunter of sorts. As Bruce walked away, Alfred, understanding that trying to stop the former is hopeless, bitterly remarked that "So falls the House of Wayne."
Rescue of Martha Kent
After the fight between Batman and Superman is resolved, Alfred tracks down Knyazev's cellphone to a portside warehouse in Gotham where Martha Kent is being held. Batman flies the Batwing towards the safehouse, and Alfred scans the warehouse to find 24 mercenaries on the third floor guarding Martha. He then takes remote control of the Batwing and lands Batman on the second floor, who then proceeds to neutralize all the men, seemingly kill Knyazev, and rescue Martha.
To be added
A traditional English gentleman, Alfred always keeps a stiff upper lip, even under the extraordinary circumstances imposed by his master's secret identity. No matter what the situation, Alfred always responds with resolve, equanimity, and good (albeit somewhat sarcastic and dry) humor.
Though he and Bruce do occasionally quarrel (notably when Alfred insisted that Superman is not their enemy), Alfred's loyalty remains absolute. Partially this could be explained by his continued loyalty to Thomas Wayne, and a traditional sense of duty to one's master. At the same time, Alfred finds ways to express his pride in Bruce, and his belief in the cause he is fighting for as the fearsome vigilante "Batman".
Alfred is remarkably wise, observant and perceptive, as he is able to understand that it is Bruce's "feelings of powerlessness" that changed the latter quite a bit, he is able to see that Superman is not humanity's enemy and adamantly tries to convince Bruce of that, and he is one of the extreme few (along with supergenius Lex Luthor) to see through Bruce's exceptionally skilled deceptions, as Alfred wasn't fooled when Bruce initially attempts to lie to him about the Kryptonite importation.
- Gifted Intelligence: Alfred is exceptionally intelligent, which extends to his considerable investigative, analytical, communications, computer operating, engineering, and medical skills, as well as those in ordinary housekeeping and cooking, which makes Alfred remarkably eclectic, often able to keep up with genius polymath Batman himself.
- Expert Tactician: Alfred regularly assists Bruce on the latter's various missions as Batman (as well as occasionally other Batman Family members), offering his own tactical input and advice if necessary. Alfred notably pin-pointed the imprisoned Martha Kent's location by tracking Anatoli Knyazev's cloned phone to a warehouse, all before Batman himself had thought to do so.
- Expert Engineer: Alfred is highly skilled in vehicles' operations, computer operations, and general engineering, as he was trained in weapons and maintenance of all sorts of vehicles and aircraft while in the SAS special forces. Thus, Alfred assists Batman in building and over time improving upon the latter's various sophisticated gadgets in the Batcave, most notably, the Batmobile, Standard Batsuit, and Batcomputer.
- Expert Computer Scientist: Alfred is exceptionally skilled in computer science, thus regularly assisting Batman on missions by efficiently operating the Batcomputer and filling the latter in on pertinent data, such as the internal layout of the Metropolis Public Library at Lex Luthor's fundraiser, or the amount of henchmen Anatoli Knyazev had awaiting Batman in a warehouse.
- Expert Detective: Alfred, while seemingly not quite on par with Batman himself, is a highly skilled investigator (employing both inductive and deductive reasoning), analyst, and spy, due to his intelligence background as a member of the British SAS special forces, where he was specifically trained in intelligence gathering. Thus, Alfred is remarkably observant and perceptive, as he is able to understand that it is Bruce's "feelings of powerlessness" that changed the latter quite a bit, he is able to see that Superman is not humanity's enemy and adamantly tries to convince Bruce of that, and he is one of the extreme few (along with supergenius Lex Luthor) to see through Bruce's exceptionally skilled deceptions, as Alfred wasn't fooled when Bruce initially attempts to lie to him about the Kryptonite importation.
- Expert Medic: Alfred is an exceptionally efficient personal doctor and surgeon to the Batman Family, due to him being trained in medicine while in the SAS special forces.
- Communications Expert: Alfred is highly skilled at communications, with him therefore regularly operating as Bruce's chief communications officer (CCO) in Wayne Enterprises.
- Expert Butler: Alfred while without metahuman powers, is an extremely skilled and experienced butler, having first served as one to Thomas and Martha Wayne, and then to their son Bruce, with him being extraordinarily competent in all of his duties (both as butler and head of security) necessary to help maintain, assist and support Batman's life, including housekeeping and cooking, and therefore contributing every bit as much as the other Batman Family members.
- Expert Driver and Pilot: Alfred is a highly skilled driver and pilot, due to him having been trained in piloting all sorts of vehicles and aircraft while in the SAS special forces. Hence, he effectively pilots Batman's Batwing from a distance, while simultaneously observing a Batcomputer thermal imaging scan of the building he was piloting it towards.
- Human Vulnerabilities: Alfred's greatest weakness is that he is a human with no enhanced strength, speed, durability, or metahuman powers, therefore making him quite vulnerable to the physical attacks of stronger and more powerful opponents. Alfred, however, usually compensates for this quite well with his exceptional tactical and combat skills, as well as his brilliant intellect. In addition, Alfred usually remains and helps the Batman Family from within the Batcave, seldom ever directly fighting Gotham City supervillains in the field.
As the long-term butler and head of security of Batman, Alfred has access to Wayne Enterprises technology, some of the most sophisticated technology in the world (most of it located in the hidden Batcave under Wayne Manor), with Alfred personally helping Bruce create the equipment that is crucial to him as Batman.
- Batcomputer: Batman's giant and powerful multi-purpose supercomputer console, located in the Batcave, with several monitor screens. Among other things, one of its monitors is equipped with thermal imaging, allowing Alfred to easily deduce the number of Knyazev's people within a building from a distance. It is also constantly hooked up to police radio's from the Gotham City Police Department, as well as news stations, allowing Alfred to remotely help Batman be up to date with all the goings on in his city. When Batman is on one of his vigilante escapades, Alfred sometimes utilizes the Batcomputer to help the Dark Knight with a specific task, notably when Batman saved Martha Kent from Anatoli Knyazev.
- Batwing: Batman's aerial combat prototype vehicle with an immense amount of firepower, with Alfred notably assisting him in remotely piloting it, from within the Batcave.
- Wayne Manor
- Batman Family
- Justice League
- Gotham City Police Department
Behind the scenes
- While different to most portrayals of how Alfred is classically perceived, this iteration of the character is more based on Geoff Johns' Earth-Two version of the character.
- Before Irons was cast, former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton was rumored to be in talks for the role of Alfred.