Whether he was repairing damage to the Batmobile, adjusting audio devices, or remotely piloting the Batwing, Irons’ incarnation of Alfred is the most physically able – aside from perhaps Sean Pertwee’s performance on TV’s Gotham – that has been seen in live-action. Alfred has always played a complex role in Wayne’s life alternating his responsibilities as butler, surrogate parent, former intelligence agent, and his right-hand man in Bat-crime.
The role of Alfred has a surprisingly established lineage of actors who have played the famed butler including Michael Gough and the legendary Michael Caine. However, Irons has the new opportunity to portray a more hands-on and able version of the character, which mirrors the more skillful Alfred that was found in the comic book pages of DC’s New 52 run.
It makes sense that Affleck would want to utilize the world-class acting abilities of Irons in a more prominent supporting role in his much anticipated movie. The Batman is expected to be a more intimate and grounded film than what we can expect from Justice League. Alfred is one of the rare characters that can actually get behind the cowl and help to humanize the Dark Knight, which should lead to more dramatic moments and reveals.
The last and perhaps most interesting part of Irons’ quote is that Justice League will feature “seven superheroes.” As far as what has been officially announced, the film will feature Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, the Flash, and inevitably a returning Superman, a total of six heroes. Who is the mysterious seventh? Perhaps, it was a simple miscalculation. Or perhaps Batman’s trusted confidant knows more than he is letting on. Could this be the clue that Martian Manhunter or Green Lantern fans have been waiting to hear? Or was Irons counting Queen of Atlantis, Mera, in his tally? We will find out soon.