Minor spoilers to follow.
Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth
Possibly one of the oddest casting decisions in Matt Reeves’s The Batman certainly falls on the shoulders of Andy Serkis in the role of Alfred Pennyworth. While Serkis is undoubtedly a celebrated and highly lauded actor, thanks to his many previous performances throughout his career, such as his turn as the creature Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and as Caesar in the Apes Trilogy (whereby two of the three Ape films coincidentally happened to be directed by Matt Reeves), having Serkis play the part of Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne’s butler and confident unfortunately did not provide much characterization to be awed by.
What is most obviously out of place with this portrayal of Pennyworth is that the actor appears to be far too young to play the perfect surrogate father figure to Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne. Serkis’s performance simply does not deliver the adequate flair that he could be the Caped Crusader’s confidant in comparison to the likes of Michael Caine’s portrayal of Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy of films. While the Alfred character in Reeves’s film is shown to be of sharp mind as he assists Pattinson’s Batman in uncovering the Riddler’s puzzles, the performance often seems forced and out of place, almost as if the scenes could have taken place without the character and have no effect on the film overall.
Therefore, this version of the character comes off a little strange within the film, and of course, we are well aware of the idea that Reeves’s was going for a more modern portrayal of the comic world’s most famous valet, but Serkis’s version of the character is utterly forgettable, probably due to the fact that the actor only had a handful of scenes in the film to showcase his prowess. This goes against the characterization of the character as the wise, and sage old man that we have come to know in the Burton and Nolan films or as the more involved assistant of sorts in the Snyder films.
Alfred Pennyworth in Reeves’s film is just — there. He exists not to be of any great importance to move the plot forward but simply put in place because he is a famous character that Gotham City cannot do without; at least, that is what we believe the film’s writer considered. It is certainly a sign of wasted potential, as Serkis could have probably been given more material to work with and thusly deliver a unique portrayal of the Pennyworth character in the same vein that Pattinson provided a unique take on The Batman. Perhaps, with future installments, we will get to see Serkis’s Alfred do more within the films to earn his place as a believable and noteworthy Pennyworth.