Why Alfred And Bruce’s Relationship Is So Different In The Batman

Why Alfred And Bruce's Relationship Is So Different In The Batman

Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth have a tense relationship in The Batman. Matt Reeves does this for an important reason that changes everything.

Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Batman

Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth’s relationship is strained in The Batman, making it different from every other on-screen appearance of the two so far. This younger Bruce makes snide remarks towards his mentor and Alfred disapproves of his action as Batman, thinking he could do more good as billionaire Bruce Wayne. Matt Reeves crafts this relationship to be intentionally fraught and takes special inspiration from one particular Batman comic book.

As Bruce has only been Batman for around two years by the start of The Batman, he and Alfred are still struggling to agree on his best course of action. While Alfred supports Bruce by helping him work out the answers to the Riddler’s clues, he also wills Bruce to care about his other life and legacy as a Wayne, not just as a Dark Knight. It is also revealed that Alfred was the one who trained Bruce in martial arts. Ultimately, the two reconcile after Alfred is nearly killed by the Riddler, and he reveals the truth about Bruce’s father’s criminal endeavors.


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The relationship between Bruce and Alfred in The Batman is the perfect fit for the dank, gritty Gotham that Reeves creates. It makes sense that Alfred would train Bruce, rather than Ra’s al Ghul like in The Dark Knight trilogy. A trip to another country to train for several years would be seen as a frivolous waste of time for this Bruce. Furthermore, this grim interpretation of Gotham City is the ideal place to explore the story of a Bruce who has not learned to balance his two lives. As a result, he and Alfred’s relationship is far more fractured, symbolically representing how broken Gotham is.

Alfred with Bruce inside the cave during The Batman

The Batman is also clearly inspired by the comic book Batman: Earth One. In this story, Alfred is an ex-Royal Marine and a diligent soldier who trains Bruce Wayne in combat after his parents’ death. The comic book is similar to The Batman in this regard, demonstrating Reeves channeling a grittier version of Alfred Pennyworth, who also disagrees with Bruce’s methods.

Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman is very different to the other cinematic interpretations of Alfred, played by Michael Caine and Michael Gough. By creating an Alfred who isn’t just a loyal butler, but a fierce soldier who isn’t afraid to challenge Bruce, Reeves helps The Batman to stand out from The Dark Knight trilogy and Tim Burton’s Batman. Bruce and Alfred’s relationship is intentionally different to help The Batman stand out as its own unique story with its own take on the mythos. It also sets up the development of their relationship over the next two movies in Matt Reeves’ Batman trilogy, giving the characters room to grow.

Matt Reeves presents Alfred and Bruce as characters with a long way to go before they reflect their traditional dynamic of the comic books and other movies. By doing so, he sets up a major character arc for the two, while taking elements from Batman: Earth One to help his story stand out from the other cinematic versions. Their troubled relationship also reflects how damaged Gotham City is in The Batman, and how much work Bruce has to do as its hero, not just its vigilante.

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About The Author

Nathanial Eker-Male
(62 Articles Published)

Nathanial is a film and tv nut from the UK, living in London. He’s currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Film Studies and has written for sites like the UK Film Review, Inside the Magic, and Coastal House Media. He’s a Hufflepuff and a Daredevil stan.

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