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Andy Serkis Vs. Jeremy Irons: Here's Who Played The Better Alfred Pennyworth

Contains spoilers for "The Batman"

In the great battle between fiction's best butlers, few servants can truly say they hold a candle to Alfred Pennyworth. Having served as a father, mentor, and all-around supporter of Bruce Wayne from his early childhood to his time as Batman, Alfred's ability to act as a tactical advisor in the Dark Knight's crusade (while also fixing the best cup of tea in Gotham) means that no other jeeves this side of Jericho could ever jive the big A.P. In one version of the comics, Alfred even laid the smack down on an evil Superman for daring to enter Wayne Manor (via Screen Rant). Granted, he had taken a special pill designed to let mere mortals stand a chance against the Man of Steel, but with years in the S.A.S. behind him, there are still plenty of reasons to fear the seemingly fragile butler.

Many different actors over the years have portrayed Alfred in both live-action and animated formats, starting with William Austin in the 1940s. However, two of the most recent popular portrayals belong to actors Jeremy Irons ("Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) and Andy Serkis ("The Batman"). With these two versions of the character still relatively fresh in moviegoers' minds, their performances are poised to make the biggest impact on how newer superhero fans see Alfred. That begs the question: Between the two, who played the better Alfred Pennyworth?

The case for Jeremy Irons

The big thing that differentiates Jeremy Irons' Alfred from Andy Serkis' portrayal is the former's technical know-how. While most versions of Alfred have some hidden talents that aid Batman, few are seen handling the deeply scientific side of things quite like Irons. The first we see of him in "Dawn of Justice," Alfred is working on repairing the inner wirings of Batman's (Ben Affleck) new armored cowl. That's a level of technical expertise that Serkis simply doesn't match, and fans know it. On Reddit, fans have lovingly referred to him as "tactical Alfred," or "tacticalfred," because of his expertise with Batman's military-grade hardware.

However, he does share one thing with Serkis' portrayal: the ability to stand up to Bruce when it seems like he has gone astray. Consumed by anger after years of being Batman and seeing Superman (Henry Cavill) tear Metropolis apart in his fight against Zod, the Bruce Wayne in "Dawn of Justice" becomes determined to find a way to destroy his future Justice League cohort. Alfred is one of the few people who truly stands up to him, providing a counterargument to Bruce's vendetta. In the end, it pays off when Bruce and Supes decide to let bygones be bygones (though Alfred's speech was hardly the only contributing factor).

The case for Andy Serkis

On the flip side, the Alfred portrayed by Andy Serkis brings his own unique talents to the table. Perhaps more in line with his days in the special forces, Alfred in "The Batman" frequently helps Bruce (Robert Pattinson) by working on the complex cipher left behind in the Riddler's clues. Though Bruce does his own fair share of sleuthing, he never would have been able to catch the Riddler if Alfred hadn't nonchalantly deciphered everything the Riddler had left behind.

Likewise, Serkis' Alfred is also willing to knock Bruce down a peg or two when he thinks his master has gone astray. As this Bruce sinks further into his obsession with his Batman persona, Serkis' Alfred does his best to remind the young billionaire that he is still a Wayne and has a legacy of philanthropy that is currently being neglected.

All the while, Alfred still takes the time to take care of Bruce, reminding him to shower and offering him food when he needs it. This ties into something that "Dawn of Justice" seldom touched on, which is the deep bond shared by Bruce and Alfred. The two have always had a father-son relationship, and after Alfred is injured by one of the Riddler's bombs, Bruce is distraught that his negligence resulted in the harm of one of his loved ones, and it's a major reason why he alters his Batman persona into a symbol of hope rather than an embodiment of vengeance.

The verdict? Andy Serkis

We have to admit, this was a close call since both actors did amazing jobs and were (unfortunately) present in only a few scenes throughout their respective films. While the older Irons definitely had the edge when it comes to the character's commonly perceived age, the relationship between Bruce and Alfred is simply emphasized more in "The Batman" than it was in "Dawn of Justice." Fans on Reddit were quick to notice this when discussing Serkis' portrayal.

"The moment between Bruce and Alfred in the hospital was superb and really showcases their relationship quite well," wrote u/FunkTheFreak. "We didn't get much of him (which is fine), but I think they nailed the characterization of him."

For these reasons, it's fair to say that Andy Serkis' Alfred is just a bit more faithful to the original comic book character. He's smart, dapper, and wise, and he has an extremely close relationship with his master that has real effects on the way Bruce conducts himself as Batman. In the end, that's pretty much all you could ask for in a great portrayal of Alfred.