"Beware the Batman" in 2013! New Animated Series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Admiral_Young, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Mostly the voice...not so much the look of the character. *Shrugs*.
     
  2. RJDonner&Blitzen

    RJDonner&Blitzen Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Eh, Alfred was a butler. A gentleman's gentleman. I don't see why they can't just let characters be themselves without turning them into action heroes. It's like having Willy Lumpkin played by Hulk Hogan or Aunt May played by Sybil Danning. :rommie:
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You're not listening. In the comics, Alfred Pennyworth was and is a former British intelligence agent and combat medic who later became an actor and then eventually became the Waynes' butler. This is canon. He's not just a butler, but has many hidden skills that are of invaluable aid to a crimefighter. This has been an established part of the character's history in the comics for at least three decades (as far as I can track down). What we're seeing in this show is arguably less revisionist than what we've seen in earlier shows and films that ignored Alfred's intelligence background.
     
  4. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I guess you haven't seen the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Really, it's pretty silly to insist that decades-old comic-book characters can only be portrayed one way when they've actually been portrayed many different ways over the decades. The original Alfred in the comics was a fat, buffoonish amateur detective with a working-class accent, and only came to work for Batman and Robin well after they were established as crimefighters, though his father Jarvis (yes, Jarvis) had been Thomas Wayne's butler. When Alfred appeared in the 1943 film serial, he was played by a thin, moustachioed man, and so Alfred's comics appearance was changed to match, with the explanation that he'd slimmed down at a health spa. For a time, he was occasionally known as Alfred Beagle; the name Pennyworth wasn't coined until 1969 (which is why Alan Napier's Alfred in the '60s TV series never had a last name). By that point he'd gone from lower-class to upper-class in his diction and behavior, becoming a more stereotypical English butler. Napier may have had an influence on that. Post-Crisis, he was retconned into having been Bruce's butler since childhood and his surrogate father after the Waynes died -- implicitly making him rather older than he'd been before.

    Heck, in the '60s there was even a period where Alfred was apparently dead for several years, then turned out to have survived and become a deranged supervillain called the Outsider. This is a character who's been through a lot of changes.
     
  6. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I didn't find BTB's Alfred to be that big a deal. Super Action Alfred is not a version of Alfred I particularly like, but its something i can get used to. I would like to point out that, while several versions of a more normal Alfred have had military/spy pasts, they definately weren't as muscle bound as this one. There is a reason normal Alfred has a shotgun for defense and doesn't try to engage bad guys in hand to hand combat (and I'd bet its not his age). Being a former military/secret agent doesn't have to mean you're a burly combat expert, and thats my problem with BTB's Alfred. He looks and acts like a master in combat who could take Bruce down without breaking a sweat, and thats not a type of Alfred I want to see (or read about, for that matter, I've never bothered with the earth One batman comic). Its not ruining the show or aything, but he's definately not that related to a more normal Alfred, regardless of wether or not the more modern Alfred's have had a military/secret agent past.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think folks are forgetting that Alfred suffered a serious injury at the climax of this episode and is going to be walking with a cane for months at least, which probably means the entire season at least. That's why he hired Tatsu (Katana) as Bruce's new bodyguard. So all these concerns about "action Alfred" are overlooking that, I think.

    And what is a "normal" Alfred, anyway? He's been many things in different versions of the story. Batman has never been one singular thing. The basic characters and tropes have been reinvented and reinterpreted in many different ways in different eras of the comics and different screen adaptations. And the whole point of doing a new adaptation is to do something different with the concept and characters, to show us things we haven't seen before.

    (Personally, I was amused to see Alfred pulling a Kato, attacking his employer as a training exercise like Inspector Clouseau's valet did for him. I enjoy novel variations on a theme. I don't want to constantly see the same things I've seen before. It's fun to be surprised.)

    Michael Caine's Alfred was nothing like Alan Napier's Alfred or Michael Gough's Alfred. They're at least as different from each other as J.B. Blanc's Alfred is from Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.'s Alfred or Alastair Duncan's Alfred. So we've already been through this. We've had a wide variety of Alfreds, some radically different from others. Why is it suddenly so shocking now?
     
  8. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I just think its a weird direction for them to go, and definately not an improvement. My perception of Alfred was basically formed by Batman: TAS, and I haven't seen him act that different in any of the newer comics (I can't speak for pre COIE, but he's seemed pretty consitant from about the ninties to even now, he's not that much different Post New 52 than he was before). Heck, he's even basically the same in The Batman. He's the loyal friend/butler of Bruce Wayne, with a probable secret past in espionage and some skills in medicine and sneaking. He also has personality (this doesn't mean BTB's Alfred doesn't have personality, he does, I'm just describing what I think of as "normal" Alfred), he's not afraid to make jokes/sarcastic comments when its called for, and he'll disagree/argue with Bruce when he thinks he needs to. He isn't a threat to basically anyone unarmed, but he's not a pushover and you have to be careful of his shotgun (which I always thought was kind of funny, Bruce hates guns but Alfred has a shotgun in several differnt stories, both comics and animated). Stuff like that is Alfred to me.

    Muscle bound action hero Alfred is definately not a change that needed to be done or that is particularly interesting. Like I said, it doesn't ruin the show for me, but Alfred is definately one of the shows obvious flaws. He's still better than Michael Caine's Alfred (who might be my most hated character from those movies, I can't even watch Caine in other roles at this point without wanting to see him get beaten up) but since I don't think a worse Alfred than Caine's is possible, thats really not a compliment. For the type of Alfred he is (super muscular master of hand to hand combat with generic personality of those kinds of characters) he seems to have been done as well as can be expected. Still, I wouldn't be sad if his leg injury somehow lead to him losing 70lbs of muscle and forgetting his fighting ability.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Exactly. Why do it the same way it's already been done before? Wouldn't that get boring eventually? Where's the fun of doing a new series if it doesn't give us fresh approaches to the characters and ideas?


    But that's who he was in the pilot. In the series, clearly, he's going to be a formerly hale and healthy, if aging, man of action who's now dealing with a disability and having to adjust to a new role. That's interesting.
     
  10. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Alfred of BtB doesn't seem any more muscle-bound or action-oriented than the elderly Bruce Wayne of Batman Beyond. And I think Christopher is right, the Alfred of the BtB pilot is the most action-oriented we're likely to see him, since he explicitly stated he'd be walking with a cane for months. Alfred's going to contribute the behind-the-scenes stuff he always has for Bruce/Batman, but we'll know a little more about why he's so good at these things.
     
  11. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Alfred has been shown to know how to defend himself many times in the comics. Here he was a little more over the top but he's also younger.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And a younger Alfred fits, because this show is toward the beginning of Batman's career. Note that Gordon is still a lieutenant instead of the commissioner.

    Which makes this the second "young Batman" animated series; The Batman also focused on his formative years. Whereas in the DCAU he'd been active for a considerable amount of time (B:TAS featured an 18-year-old Robin, and Bruce had already been Batman when Robin was 9), and in The Brave and the Bold (and Young Justice) Batman was an established veteran and a leader of the superhero community.
     
  13. RJDonner&Blitzen

    RJDonner&Blitzen Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    No, I'm not listening; I'm reading. :rommie: I know all the stuff you keep repeating. My point is that not every character has to prove themselves by being a macho action hero. Let Alfred be a butler. It's like putting Troi in a uniform and making her a part of the bridge crew. She's supposed to be a counselor. Let her be what she is. It's not a fresh take, it's not exploring other aspects of a character, it's not being creative-- it's compromising the identity of the character and homogenizing the cast.

    Er, no. And I probably don't want to. :rommie:
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It is not compromising Alfred at all to acknowledge that he has a past as a fighter and intelligence agent. That's part of who he's been for decades. This is just portraying a version of Alfred that's a little closer to that part of his past, where it looms larger in his makeup rather than being a part of his history that only occasionally comes up. It's a shift in emphasis, a modulation, not a reinvention.

    Modulation... hmm. You strike me as being like someone who has perfect pitch. If you transpose the same melody into a different key, they don't perceive it as the same melody because their perception of a note is so inseparably attached to its absolute pitch. But other people can hear the same melody in different keys or arrangements and still recognize the commonality uniting the different variations. That's how I approach fictional characters. To you, any modulation in the specifics of a character makes them a different character, whereas to me it's just a variation on the theme. I've always enjoyed variations on themes, the thrill of recognizing the common pattern that underlies two phrases that initially sound different.
     
  15. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But, at the same time, the whole point of a Batman show is that you're watching Batman. I personally prefer stuff based on comics to be fairly close to the source material. Thats the whole point of watching the show, because I like the characters I already know. Alfred being changed is just weird, and this whole show seems to want to make everything the opposite of other Batman shows. There is a fine line between "fresh approach" and the show not being related to the base character in anything but name.

    BTB obviously hasn't gone that far, but there is only so much you can tweak stuff before it just becomes a random superhero show with the batman name slapped on it for marketing reasons. Alfred alone wouldn't do it, but making him Action Alfred along with using lame z-list villains and making Katana batman's partner (I really like The Outsiders, and Katana, but I am not a fan of her being used in this role) is making this show feel less and less like a Batman show. I did like the first episode, but I have the feeling it will be less and less like Batman as it goes along and the writers can get away with more.

    Maybe it will turn out to be a great show and make me a fan. If The Batman can win me over, anything is possible. I'm just hoping this show doesn't become the anti-batman just because the writers don't want to do anything like anyone else did. I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually see Robin, but its Stephanie Brown or something. Actually, thats not a bad thing. I'd be fine with a Stephanie Brown Robin. That sounds kind of awesome the more I think about it. Theres about as much of a chance of that happening as BTB Alfred being retconned, but a guy can dream. That is actually part of what annoys me about Katana. Her presence means probably no Batgirl at all, and maybe no Robin, atleast for the first season, and thats just stupid.

    I'd prefer either no partner or someone who has actually been Batman's partner (being an Outsider in the comics does not make her Batman's sidekick, by that logic they could have used Black Lightning, Geo-Force or Looker as his sidekick in BTB) over grabbing someone who has never been his sidekick or even close to it. If being on a crimefighting team with him is the only requirement to be his "sidekick", they might as well choose Superman as his partner, he makes as much sense as Katana (to be clear, Superman as a partner would be really stupid, I'm just pointing out that he makes about as much sense as Katana).

    He's not "dealing with a disability", he's got a temporary leg injury, and since he's probably not even 60 he'll be ok in a few months. He's not old alfred obviously, I doubt he has fragile bones. Unless they somehow make his injury worse then they said it was in episode one (nothing they said made it sound any more serious then just a bad break) he'll be able to punch people probably before the show's halfway point, and thats if they drag the show along.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, but the source material for Batman has been extremely broad and eclectic. Originally he was a pulp-style gun-toting vigilante; then he became a lighter, more law-abiding father figure; then he became a campy hero having wild and zany sci-fi adventures; then he became a more serious detective character but still a romanticized one who often had Bond-style globetrotting adventures; then later he appeared in an alternate-future tale that portrayed him as a dark avenger in an ultraviolent dystopia, and the mainstream comics increasingly imitated that; and so on.

    Batman has been so many different things in the history of the comics that virtually every adaptation is close to some part of the source material -- just different parts. The Adam West sitcom was, contrary to popular belief, an extremely faithful translation of the style of the comics from the early to mid-'60s. B:TAS was a distillation of Batman stories from the '70s through the '90s. The Brave and the Bold was a celebration of the Silver-Age comics of the '50s and '60s. And so on. This series feels like it draws partly on the detective-style Batman of the '70s (the producers have cited '70s procedurals as a major influence) and partly on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Batman: Earth One (which portrays a very similar version of Alfred), with villains drawn from all over -- Pyg and Toad from Grant Morrison's recent run, Magpie from the John Byrne era in the '80s, Anarky from the '90s, etc.


    He's still recognizably Alfred to me. The surface details are different, but what defines Alfred is his motivations and his relationship to Bruce, and those are the same.


    See, I don't even understand that sentence, because "other Batman shows" have been extremely opposed to one another in many ways. Is this show the opposite of, say, The Brave and the Bold or Batman '66? Yes, because it's more serious and dramatic. But that makes it more similar to B:TAS than any other Batman show, while still being pleasantly distinct from it.

    How can you possibly judge that when you haven't even seen her in that role yet? She didn't even meet Bruce until the last 20 seconds of the episode.


    Given that Batman has already successfully been everything from Frank Miller Batman to Adam West Batman, I'm not sure how it's possible for him to be the "anti-Batman." Well, unless he becomes a criminal and starts killing people.


    B:TAS used Robin infrequently and Batgirl only twice (though they were more commonly used in TNBA). The Batman introduced Batgirl in season 3 and Robin in season 4. The Brave and the Bold used Robin in six episodes and Batgirl in two. So I guess those shows were stupid too. Not to mention the Nolan movies, which managed to get through a whole trilogy with neither Robin nor Batgirl.


    Maybe, maybe not. Think about it from a storytelling perspective. Alfred was given this injury in order to give Katana a reason to be there. True, it could be that he'll recover and they'll find a new reason for Katana to stay on the team, but it could also be that the role he's in at the end of the pilot is the role he's meant to have for the series as a whole, and so his loss of mobility is going to be a defining part of his characterization. I think that could offer some interesting possibilities for character exploration, and I think Watson and Murakami have already proven to me that they're interested in exploring and developing these characters in thoughtful ways. This pilot made clear that Alfred's primary goal is protecting Batman, and the basis of drama is giving characters obstacles to the fulfillment of their goals. Having Alfred want to be able to protect Batman physically but being unable to do so is good drama.

    Besides, TV series these days tend to be pretty serialized. Sometimes "a few months" of story time can take over a year of show time. The whole three-season run of Avatar: The Last Airbender spanned less than a year of story time, with the winter solstice coming halfway through Book 1 and the finale taking place before the end of the following summer. At the very least, I expect Alfred's injury to stay in effect throughout the season.
     
  17. jbny67

    jbny67 Captain Captain

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    I like this take on Alfred.
    Even though I started off with the image of Inspector Clouseau & Cato in my mind during his first scene.
     
  18. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Good show. I dug it.
     
  19. RJDonner&Blitzen

    RJDonner&Blitzen Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    They turned him from a butler into a hulking bruiser. That tells me that they're either pandering to a childish audience who can't respect anybody who doesn't go around punching and kicking somebody or they themselves can't respect or write for such a character. Let the butler be the butler.

    I'm not musically inclined, so I don't know what any of that means. :rommie: If it means that I would in most cases create a new character rather than change an existing one beyond recognition, then, yes, you're right.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^What I mean is that your standards of "beyond recognition" are far narrower than mine. I still recognize this Alfred. The emphasis has shifted, but that's superficial. His core personality, his motivation, his relationship with Bruce, is what makes him Alfred -- not what job he holds or how he's built physically.