Batman: Every Live-Action Alfred Pennyworth Ranked Worst To Best

Caine, Serkis, and Irons played Alfred, but who was the best?

Alfred Pennyworth Michael Caine Jeremy Irons Andy Serkis
Warner Bros.

Batman likes to perceive himself as a crimefighter who works better alone. Ironically, he's done a team-up more than almost any other superhero. Over the years, he's worked with Batgirl, Batwoman, Jim Gordon, Superman, Catwoman, Huntress, Signal, Oracle, and a whole army of Robins. Heck, he's allied with Bane and Joker once or twice.

But Bruce Wayne's greatest ally is also his butler, Alfred Pennyworth. After Bruce's parents were murdered, Alfred became his surrogate father. When Bruce decided to become a masked vigilante to stop people suffering the same fate as him, Alfred agreed to help him in every way he could.

It must be made abundantly clear that Alfred is not just an assistant. He is Batman's moral anchor, his confidante, his advisor, and his best friend. He is so synonymous with the Caped Crusader, it's no surprise he's appeared alongside Batman in nearly every live-action adaptation over the last 80 years.

Which actor had the most compelling relationship with Master Bruce? Which performer had the best comic timing? Or, to put it more concisely - who was the best Alfred Pennyworth?

11. Eric Wilton - Batman And Robin (1949)

Alfred Pennyworth Michael Caine Jeremy Irons Andy Serkis
Columbia Pictures

After the success of the 1943 Batman serial, Columbia created a 15-part follow-up called Batman and Robin. Although Robin appeared in the previous series, this continuation focussed primarily on the Boy Wonder's relationship with his mentor.

Because more emphasis is put on the dynamic duo, it feels like Alfred (played by Eric Wilton) is lost in the shuffle. In this serial, Alfred doesn't act like Bruce's legal guardian or his aide-de-camp. Instead, he's just... his butler

Now, that doesn't suggest he just buttles about (which is a real word). As one would expect, he assists Batman with his crime-fighting exploits at every given opportunity. He always has an excuse to explain Bruce's absence to his acquaintances. He's eager to let Bruce know of any criminal activity in the city and gives him any advice he deems helpful.

But Wilton doesn't play the character with the same affinity we've seen in other adaptations. He also doesn't appear much in each episode (and he's not credited in the opening) so you don't care as much about his relationship with Bruce. Because of the way Wilton's character is written (or underwritten), Alfred comes across as a helpful assistant, and nothing more.

Contributor
Contributor

James Egan has written 80 books including 1000 Facts about Superheroes Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Supervillains Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about The Greatest Films Ever Made Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Video Games Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about TV Shows Vol. 1-3 Twitter - @jameswzegan85