As Gotham draws to a close this season on Fox, Bat-fans can look forward to its prequel Pennyworth on Epix in June. Today at TCA, Gotham and Pennyworth EP Danny Cannon shed some light on what to expect from the Alfred origins story set in a 1960s London in which he meets young American billionaire Thomas Wayne, the papa of Bruce.
For starters, it’s not the Austin Powers Swinging ’60s London with a bright yellow, purple and maroon color palette but “13 degrees darker,” Cannon said about the series’ look and tone.
Jack Bannon (The Imitation Game) stars in the title role where Pennyworth has just finished his service as a British SAS solder. Boyish in looks with a charismatic personality, the future Wayne butler forms a security company and finds an employer in Thomas Wayne. The 10-episode show, which Gotham‘s Bruno Heller is also executive producing and writing, shot at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden in England.
“It’s twentysomething years before Gotham, it’s a very different world,” said Cannon. “his is the DC version of 1960s London.
“13 degrees history is different: It’s not the England we know. It looks and feels like, but if you look a little closer, [you ask], ‘Why is that like that? Why is that building there? What war is he talking about?'” the EP added.
In sum, London is a “poetic reality” in Pennyworth, Cannon said, “just like I wanted people in Gotham to search for the darkest part of New York.”
Cannon promises a completely “unhinged, R-rated” series, particularity when compared to Gotham.
While the ancestors of the Joker and the Penguin aren’t in Pennyworth, Cannon promises “archetypal villains and classic villains of British literature; they’re all available to us.”
You mean, like, Jack the Ripper?
“Jack the Ripper was 1880s,” Cannon said before teasing, “but he has descendants.”
Paloma Faith plays Alfred’s main adversary, Bet Sykes, who is described in the press materials as a “spirited, sadistic and sharp-tongued villain.” Bet has a sister, Peggy Sykes (Polly Walker), who is one of Lancashire’s busiest and most successful dominatrixes. The sensible matriarch in a family of maniacs, Peggy is fiercely loyal, endlessly resourceful and lives by her own strange but rigorous moral code. Jason Flemyng plays baddie Lord Harwood.
What has been extremely pleasing to Cannon is that early test audiences already are bowled over by Pennyworth.
SidCannon: “We had a test audience and there were only so many who knew it was a DC-related series. It was incredibly positive and that’s because the characters are being drawn out. There’s so much to draw from and so much to imagine.”
Said the EP, “You didn’t really know [Alfred’s] backstory.”
At today’s Fox session for Gotham, Cannon’s fellow EP John Stevens revealed that David Mazouz will indeed wear the final Batman costume at the end of series, but there’s also a taller guy standing in the costume. Bane will show up this season, and at San Diego Comic-Con it was revealed that the muscular Batman bad guy will break Alfred’s back this season, a big plot point from the comics.