Warner Bros.' Controversial Pennyworth Name Change Explained by Producer

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Pennyworth, Warner Bros

Batman is the key focus of a lot of media out there. However, there are also plenty of projects within his world that don't focus on the caped crusader; Gotham, Titans, Batwoman, etc. But there is one that has flown under the radar for years now. One which many might be unfamiliar with is Pennyworth.

The show follows the story of Alfred Pennyworth, the man who will eventually go on to become Bruce Wayne's butler. Played by Jack Bannon, this version of the character is far more than a helping hand—he's also a former special-forces soldier out in London.

Seeing as how Pennyworth is a relatively unknown show, Warner Bros. recently opted to change the series name to something that would draw the eye more, Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman's Butler.

Yes. It's real, and it's terrible. But HBO Max is sticking with it.

Ahead of the show's third season premiere, one of the series' co-creators has now spoken about the controversial name change.

The Origin of Batman's Butler


In an interview with Deadline, Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman's Butler co-creator and producer Bruno Heller commented on the show's recent name change.

Heller noted that the shift in title had to do with "visibility and clarity" while admitting how he would have preferred it to be "'the butler that changed America:'"

“The beauty of the DC canon is that pretty much everyone has a smattering of knowledge about it... but there are several steps from name recognition to eyeballs on the screen. I think HBO Max was right. Visibility and clarity is everything … though I wish it could have been ‘the butler that changed America’ because I always like that in book titles.”

He reiterated that the show is "very much Alfred's story" as opposed to Bruce Wayne and that the series is showing "the origin... of how that world came to be:"

“You’re getting premonitions and presaging of those characters... this is very much Alfred’s story. It’s the parents’ story. The world is getting ready for the entry of those superheroes and supervillains. You’re seeing the origin stories of how that world came to be rather than those characters themselves.”

Heller went on to talk about Pennyworth himself, noting that the character is "sort of a handsome caricature of himself" while also being "very charismatic:"

“He’s sort of handsome caricature of himself. He has a relaxed and easy command, not like an officer, but like a sergeant, you hope you’d have in Vietnam or wherever... I find myself sometimes with him, and it’s ridiculous ’cause I’m an ancient old geezer with a white beard, but I’ll look at him and say like, ‘well, what do you think, dad?’ He’s just so very charismatic. He just has that easy, relaxed way with everyone around him. And if he says it’s going to be alright, it’s going to be all right.”

A Not-So-Great Name for a Not-Very-Known Show

It's hard not to agree with the criticism that came the producers' way once the new name was announced. The Origin of Batman's Butler is so bad that it almost feels like those behind the scenes are trying to pull a prank on people.

But it's very much real. Not only that, but it's the definition of desperation—clearly, the show is not reaching the audience it had hoped to.

This is far from surprising. Not only is the series a Batman show without Batman or his iconic rogue gallery, but it's also not connected with any established properties outside of itself—like how Matt Reeves' upcoming Penguin show spins out of the world of The Batman.

It's unclear how much longer the series will go on, but if they are as desperate as the new title change suggests, it probably won't be around much longer. Especially given Warner Bros.'s recent streak of destroying some of its properties.

Pennyworth's third season will land on HBO Max on Thursday, October 6.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.