Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy remains a landmark saga of cinema history. The series achieved great heights thanks in large part to the impressive talent in front of the camera, as prestige actors such as Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine all lent their talents to the films. Caine in particular received praise for his portrayal of the fatherly butler figure, Alfred Pennyworth.

No doubt Nolan’s favorite actor to work with, Caine’s Alfred is tasked with weaving the moral canvas for Bruce Wayne to follow. In a trilogy that increasingly questions the blurry line between right and wrong, Alfred’s decisions always make the audience wonder what they would do in his shoes.

10 Questionable – Returning To Gotham

Though Alfred is instrumental in beginning Batman’s career, it’s later learned he was reluctant for Bruce to ever return to Gotham City at all. In The Dark Knight Rises, Alfred shares that in the years following Bruce’s disappearance as a young man, he secretly wished for Bruce to find a new life and never return.

With nothing left in Gotham but pain and tragedy, Alfred reasoned that escaping the city for good would be his greatest chance for happiness. When Alfred is seen returning Bruce to Gotham in Batman Begins, the scene is lent additional subtext upon re-watches.

9 Heroic – “Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn.”

The Dark Knight finds Bruce struggling to understand the anarchic Joker. To help his young master, Alfred tells him a story of a bandit he once encountered while working for a foreign country’s government. The thief was raiding his team’s caravans carrying precious stones, not for money but for sport.

Realizing he operated outside of conventional logic and could not be reasoned with, the only way they could stop him was to burn the forest to the ground. Bruce ultimately uses this advice in the film’s conclusion, choosing to burn his own image down and become the villain of his city so the Joker would not win.


8 Questionable – Enabling Batman

As the hero’s story progresses, Alfred witnesses firsthand the “monster” that Batman can become and realizes he is becoming more of an enabler than a protector. Whether he is helping attain Batman’s impressive gear, mending Bruce’s injuries, or preserving Batman’s identity at all costs, Alfred must come to grips with the dangerous symbol that he has helped cultivate.

See also  Clive Barker's Nightbreed Trilogy Plan Explained: Why It Didn't Happen

The balance between safeguarding Batman begins to conflict with the promise to Bruce’s parents to protect their only child, leaving a haunted Alfred to bid farewell to Bruce in The Dark Knight Rises.

7 Heroic – Action Hero

Nolan’s Batman films were unique in that he allowed the supporting characters to consistently get in on the action. Alfred’s resourcefulness is demonstrated in Batman Begins when Bruce is poisoned by Dr. Crane’s toxin. Fearing Bruce has only moments to live, Alfred races him to safety, later calling Lucius Fox for help with an antidote. Alfred returns to his master’s aid in the film’s third act after Bruce is trapped in his burning mansion.

Sneaking up on a henchman guarding the mansion, Alfred clubs him with a golf club, complete with the Caine one-liner “I hope you’re not a member of the fire brigade.” He then manages to help Bruce escape to the Batcave as their home crumbles above them.

6 Questionable – Bane

The thrilling conclusion to Nolan’s trilogy finds Bruce has given up Batman for 8 years. However, after encountering Selina Kyle and learning of the menacing Bane, his interest is rekindled. Alfred’s concern for Bruce’s well-being is clear as he reminds him how Gotham needs Bruce Wayne more than Batman.

He goes on to explain Bane’s history, hoping to dissuade Bruce from engaging such a deadly foe. However, what he fails to realize is that by presenting Bane’s threat, Bruce is even more driven to become Batman again, believing he is the only one to stop him. Though Alfred has admirable intentions, he indirectly contributes to Bruce reaching rock bottom.

5 Heroic – “Why Do We Fall?”

After narrowly escaping the burning mansion in Batman Begins, Bruce and Alfred plummet down into the Batcave via a hidden elevator shaft. With Bruce’s home crumbling and his confidence in tatters, he declares to Alfred that he’s destroyed his family’s legacy and failed to save Gotham.

See also  DCEU Movies, Ranked By Re-Watch Value

On cue, Alfred delivers a familiar line of dialogue to Bruce: “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” This memorable call-back to the words Bruce’s father told him as a boy lifts Bruce’s spirit. Realizing Alfred hasn’t given up on him, he finds the will to pick himself up and save his city.

4 Questionable – The Joker’s Threat

Nolan dances around the notion of morality and limits multiple times throughout The Dark Knight, perhaps no more so than when the Joker demands Batman reveal his identity. Both Bruce and Alfred understand how risky giving in to the Joker would be, knowing he isn’t bound by society’s rules. Alfred in particular knows just how terrifying the Joker is, so when he tells Bruce not to turn himself in, it feels somewhat shocking.

Even though it would put more lives at risk, Alfred reasons that Batman should endure and survive as an outcast. While he could potentially be right, Bruce determines it’s a risk he can’t take, resigning that he’s finally found the limits to what Batman can endure.

3 Heroic – Comforting Bruce

Following Bruce’s parents murder, Alfred is seen standing alongside the young boy at their funeral, using an umbrella to protect him from the rain (and symbolically his pain). Shortly after, he brings the grieving child dinner, only to be shunned by silence.

As he turns to walk away, Bruce suddenly begins blaming himself for his parents’ death. Alfred immediately consoles him, holding him close and reminding him it was not his fault. In a heartwarming moment, Bruce confides to his new protector how badly he misses his parents, to which Alfred replies “So do I Master Bruce, so do I.”

2 Questionable – The Letter

As Batman and Commissioner Gordon grapple over Harvey Dent’s legacy in The Dark Knight‘s finale, Alfred is seen burning the letter from Rachel Dawes in which she confesses her desire to marry Harvey. Though Rachel had asked Alfred to give the letter to Bruce specifically, he has a change of heart following her shocking death.

See also  Leaked Next-Gen Batman Game May Have Batman Beyond Influence

Realizing that Bruce thinks Rachel was going to choose him over Harvey, Alfred hides the letter from Bruce before eventually destroying it. Despite his best intentions, Alfred’s choice to spare his tormented master the painful truth was undoubtedly was one of his most morally grey moments.

1 Heroic – Leaving Wayne Manor

Refusing to enable Bruce any further and accelerate his demise, Alfred makes the difficult choice to leave his longtime home in a final attempt to save Bruce’s life. In the series’ most heartbreaking scene, Alfred tells Bruce it’s time to accept the truth, finally revealing the contents of Rachel’s letter and why he subsequently destroyed it.

Knowing what’s ahead, Alfred tells him “I know what this means. It means your hatred. It also means losing someone I have cared for since I first heard his cries echo throughout this house. But it might also mean saving your life.” This moment only enriches the emotional re-connection between the two after Batman saves all of Gotham in the trilogy’s finale.

NextThe 10 Best Hockey Movies, According To Ranker

About The Author