The Batman: Andy Serkis on his Alfreds “unsaid” relationship with Bruce Wayne

Prepare to meet a new version of Batman’s faithful butler Alfred. Andy Serkis plays the iconic character in director Matt Reeves’ new film, The Batman, though you may not entirely recognize the man on screen. Alfred has war scars and an increasingly difficult relationship with Bruce Wayne – one that’s more profoundly conflicting than the one seen in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.

“We introduced tension in Alfred’s character,” Serkis explains to Total Film. “He’s someone who isn’t good at dealing with the messy world of emotions, and this particular version of Bruce [played by Robert Pattinson] exemplifies that. He is not taking any notice of his mentor anymore. 

“It’s not the usual relationship of Alfred to Batman in the sense that they’re both fighting a battle together and helping each other out. He’s very much pushing against what Alfred stands for and the legacy of his father. And the guilt that Alfred feels is that he wasn’t there for Bruce in his hour of need – to protect his father. It’s a very messy, complicated relationship. And it seemed very fresh in an interpretation of a relationship we think we know.”

You could easily see there being an estranged father-son dynamic between the two. “It’s unsaid,” Serkis says. “Were this about a younger version of Rob’s Bruce, he would have had respect for Alfred, and that doesn’t play anymore. It is like having a teenage son. Certainly Matt Reeves, we’re both fathers. And we both know what it’s like when your children start to pull away and to challenge you. It’s a very complex time, when that starts to happen. 

“Having said that, Alfred just isn’t and will never be [Bruce’s father], and that’s part of his flaw and his character. He knows he can never be a surrogate father, he only knows how to be a mentor and a teacher. He doesn’t have the emotional tools to properly be a father to Bruce, and that really plays out in this version.”

Serkis appears in The Batman alongside Jeffrey Wright and Paul Dano as Gordon and The Riddler, respectively. Read our interview with the duo here. The Batman is in cinemas from March 4.

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