For 80 years Batman has enthralled generations of nerdy superhero fans. Many actors have donned the cowl or provided a voice for the Caped Crusader. One man stands above them all. Kevin Conroy.
The definitive version of Batman is the ’90s cartoon adaptation from Batman: The Animated Series. This incarnation of the Caped Crusader defined a generation of animated adaptations and built the DC animated universe that everyone enjoys today. Batman lives and dies by the sound of his voice. That, along with the giant bat costume, strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
Christian Bale proved this by scratching up his vocals to make Bats sound scary. Mr. Ben Affleck had his vocals modulated to give him that ethereal, bass-filled timbre. There is one man who nailed the gravitas and intensity of Batman’s pipes without resorting to comical manipulation. That man is Kevin Conroy, the voice of animated Batman.
AFFLECK NEEDED A MACHINE TO BE BATMAN
Ben Affleck was a wonderful Batman. His voice modulator machine replaced the cartoony, throat-ripping gravel of Christian Bale’s Bat-voice and these served as clever solutions for how Bruce Wayne would ultimately disguise his voice.
However, Kevin Conroy solved that problem first by having the best voice ever. Conroy never needed a machine to differentiate his Batman from Bruce Wayne. He was able to convey the different sensibilities of the dual personalities with inflection and tone.
THE LONGEST-RUNNING BATMAN
Kevin Conroy has played the Dark Knight for over 26 years. An entire generation grew up with Conroy bringing this character to life. His distinct Shakespearean approach to playing Bruce Wayne and Batman has shaped the character’s historical audio footprint. Conroy’s dulcet tones have graced the likes of Batman: TAS, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, and a myriad of animated DC films. If you’ve never seen any of these (what’s wrong with you?) you probably heard him in your favorite Batman video game.
CONROY IS YOUR FAVORITE VIDEO GAME DARK KNIGHT
Did the bone-rattling bass of Batman’s voice spur you to take down every villain you came across in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City? That’s Conroy you’re hearing. Even the folks at Rocksteady Studios knew that the only person who could bring their version of Batman to life was Kevin Conroy.
Taking nothing away from fellow voice actor, Roger Craig Smith, but Batman: Arkham Origins was not as well received as the previous Arkham installments. Was it because Conroy wasn’t present under the digital cowl? I’ll let you decide.
THE VOICE OF YOUR CHILDHOOD
Kevin Conroy began his tenure as the voice of billionaire playboy vigilante Batman in Batman: The Animated Series. After the successful four-season run of the Emmy-winning show, Conroy went on to voice Batman in many highly-rated animated films and series, including Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman Beyond as elderly Bruce Wayne.
His Batman animated film credits span from 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm to 2016’s Batman: The Killing Joke. Kevin Conroy’s voice has influenced generations of Batman fans. So much so, in fact, that I personally only hear his voice when I think of Batman. Every other portrayal feels off. His voice acting is written into my nerd DNA.
HE’S PAIRED WITH THE BEST JOKER OF ALL TIME
You can measure every incarnation of Batman by the quality of his relationship with the Joker. Mark Hamill may be everyone’s favorite Jedi, but he’s also the greatest Joker of all time. The interplay between the two make for iconic animated encounters of these eternal adversaries.
Kevin Conroy is the Batman to Mark Hamill’s Joker. Mark Hamill’s Joker is the greatest Joker of all time. By the transitive property, Kevin Conroy is the greatest Batman of all time, correct? The math checks out.
THE SOUND OF ONE BAT TALKING
After 26 years of service to the iconic character, Kevin Conroy can certainly be considered one of, if not the greatest Batman actor ever. Conroy leads the pack with video games, animated feature films, and the legendary Batman: The Animated Series under his belt. A phrase uttered in that iconic Batman timbre can send any Batman enthusiast into a nostalgia coma. No mechanical voice boxes or monster voice necessary.