For those of us with any passion for comic books, and anything related to them, Batman is easily recognizable as a symbol of that fandom. He is one of the most popular and enduring characters of all-time. Gotham’s protector has been brought to life in many forms of media. Several actors have donned the bat suit in live action performances, and most of them have done a good job. In spite of those successes, there is one man who is more synonymous with Batman than any of them. His name is Kevin Conroy, and he passed away last Thursday. May he rest in peace as we thank him for his infinite contributions to the Dark Knight.
The Quintessential Batman
Admit it, whenever you pick up a Batman comic book and read it, you don’t hear Michael Keaton’s voice as the titular hero. You don’t hear Adam West, or Christian Bale, or Val Kilmer. You hear Kevin Conroy. This is true for a few reasons. For starters, Conroy has voiced Batman in over 50 different forms of media. That includes 15 films, 15 different animated series totaling 400 episodes, and nearly two dozen videogames. The man has voiced Batman more than anyone ever has, and likely more than anyone ever will. That alone is a testament to how beloved he was by the fandom.
Bringing Humanity to Batman
One man doesn’t voice the same character for that long without a good reason. Conroy brought something to Batman that nobody on this planet could do better. He brought humanity to Batman. Yes, Conroy also made him a total badass, who was always one step ahead of his enemies, but it was his humanity that truly defined the character. Conroy was able to subtly differentiate his performance between Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, but he did so by maintaining the same level of compassion and sympathy for his allies, the citizens of Gotham City, and even his enemies.
The Performance of a Lifetime
Batman dealt with a rogue’s gallery of criminals. Some of them were psychotic in nature, while others were doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Conroy’s Batman was always aware of that facet of crime fighting in Gotham City, and it showed through in his performance. He conveyed true sympathy for Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series, whose terminally-ill wife was the victim of a greedy corporation. He continued to show that same sympathy throughout his other performances. This was true from the first animated series, to Justice League: Unlimited, and through the Arkham games. He never sacrificed the morals of his character. Nobody could have done that better than Conroy, and he did it for 30 years from 1992-2022. We are all fortunate enough to have experienced his performances. Thank you Kevin.