In a recent interview with Variety, executive producer Bruno Heller discussed some of the details of the new Epix drama Pennyworth. The show will explore the backstory of Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon), Batman’s butler, set against the backdrop of 1960s London.
Heller has had plenty of experience working with stories in the Batman universe previously, having developed and written the the DC original series Gotham for FOX. Gotham also followed this idea of exploring characters in the Batman universe outside of Batman, chronicling the story of Detective James Gordon before Batman’s arrival. The Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus for the most recent season of Gotham describes it as “a glorious free-for-all that takes full advantage of the series’ dense roster of colorful villains, making for an extended climax that is equal parts daffy and thrilling.”
However, if Heller was caught up in exploring the huge variety of Batman characters in Gotham, his approach for Pennyworth seems to be a bit simpler. In his interview, he told Variety that “there’s so many great characters and the pressure to put all of them in there as quickly as possible was understandable and very strong. But in retrospect, I would say to the detriment of storytelling because it becomes one life to live.”
Instead, Heller says that he’ll be focusing specifically on Alfred’s story for Pennyworth. His hope is to answer some of the questions audiences have about Alfred (How did he become a butler? How did he get to America?), while telling a “simple story.” Heller also teased in his interview that people may be surprised by some of the new content within Pennyworth. “People don’t always get what they want,” he said, “but sometimes they get what they need.” You can hear the full interview with Bruno Heller on Pennyworth here.