Kevin Conroy: A Look into the Definitive Batman Portrayal

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On Nov. 11, 2022, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, passed away at age 66.

Benedicto Campo, Media Critic

Kevin Conroy was a voice actor who was known as the voice of Batman / Bruce Wayne. He voiced Batman in many DC and Batman projects like “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Batman Beyond,” “Justice League Unlimited,” and many more. Fans loved Conroy’s voice performance as Batman because his deep and growling voice gave Batman his personality as a dark and brooding vigilante. He also understood the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman that he gave off a different voice performance for each character. As Bruce Wayne he uses a charismatic and charming performance, while as Batman he gives off a dark and serious one. This performance has convinced fans that he is the definitive actor who portrayed Batman to an absolute tee. Some fans have even said that he outranks the live action Batman actors like Michael Keaton, Christina Bale, and even Robert Pattinson. This shows that Kevin Conroy’s voice performance as Batman has made a huge impact on the world because he understands the character the most. However, on Nov. 11, 2022, Kevin passed away due to cancer at the age of 66. This news has left many fans and actors shocked and stunned around the world. I am one of these fans because I grew up with the character of Batman and I agree that he is the definitive portrayal of the character. This is because I thought his voice is what defined the character of Batman. I also read about Kevin’s story on becoming Batman and I thought it was inspiring and heartwarming.

         Kevin Conroy was born on Nov. 30, 1955. He studied at Julliard School to study acting and drama. He studied with fellow actors Kelsey Grammer and Robin Williams during his time at the school. After he graduated from Julliard, he went on to become a theatre actor and starred in William Shakespeare plays like “Hamlet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After his tenure in theatre, he got a fateful phone call that would put him in the course of history. This phone call came from Warner Bros Studios asking him if he would like to audition for the Batman show that would become “Batman: The Animated Series.” He was unsure of doing this at first because he had very little knowledge of Batman. He had only known Batman through the 1966 TV show “Batman” starring the late Adam West as the titular caped crusader. Regardless, he went to the audition and used his knowledge in theatre to help in his audition. He tried to imagine Batman as a dark and gritty character living in a neo noir setting to help him find the voice. Although Kevin thought he messed up at first, he ended up getting the part of Bruce Wayne / Batman for “Batman the Animated Series.” He voiced Batman for all episodes of the series and his performance proved to be a hit with fans. Since then, he continued voicing the character in new animated DC and Batman projects like “Batman Beyond,” “Justice League: Unlimited,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” and “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.” He also has played the character in the popular video game series known as the “Arkham” games. He reprised his role for this video game series along with “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill, who played The Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series.” This made both Conroy and Hamill more iconic in their roles than when they first played them in the animated series. He also played the character in other video games like the “Injustice” series and “Multiversus.” In the mid 2010s, Conroy came out as gay in an interview with the New York Times, which makes him the first openly gay actor to play Bruce Wayne / Batman. He has since been very open about it to people around the world. In 2022, Conroy wrote a story called “Finding Batman” for a comic series known as “DC Pride.” He mentions in this story that playing the character of Batman has helped him come to terms with his sexual identity. He also mentions that the theme of identity was important for both him and the character of Batman. This helped him in his performance of Batman. He continued doing his work as Batman until Nov. 2022, where he passed away due to cancer at age 66. “Multiversus” ended up being his final time as Batman. Many fans and actors were very saddened by the news and have posted many tributes to him. Some people who have paid tribute to him include director James Gunn, filmmaker Kevin Smith, and his Batman co-stars Mark Hamill and Tara Strong. Fans and actors around the world will remember the impact Kevin’s voice had on the character.

         As a hardcore Batman fan, hearing the news of Kevin’s passing has really made me sad. This is because he is the Batman voice actor who has been with me throughout most of my life. I first heard Kevin Conroy’s Batman voice in the video game “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” When I first heard his voice, I thought that he was a great Batman voice actor because he sounded like Batman the most, due to his gritty and serious performance. I also thought his banter with Mark Hamill’s Joker was well done because it felt natural and fun to watch. I continued hearing Kevin Conroy’s Batman voice in films and games like “Justice League: Doom,” “Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox,” “Batman: Arkham City” and “Batman: Arkham Knight.” I continued to grow fond of Kevin Conroy’s performance in these works. However, it wasn’t until I met one of my best friends in High School that I learned he has done this a lot longer than I thought. My High School friend is a huge Batman fan and recommended me “Batman: The Animated Series,” which had both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Since then, I watched episodes of the series and started to really understand why Kevin Conroy had such an impact on fans. It was because he knew how to portray the characters of Bruce Wayne and Batman as their own separate characters. He used his voice to give Bruce and Batman unique personalities and voices, while at the same time exploring the complexity and duality of The Batman. This really surprised me and gave me the feeling that this was the Batman I would see in a comic. This also made me think that this is the definitive Batman portrayal of all time. Although I love the live action performances of Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, and Michael Keaton, Conroy’s performance separates himself from most of them because he understood the character the most and had almost all of the characteristics that define the character of The Batman. I have since loved his performance and hearing his voice felt like chatting with a good friend on the phone. Now that he has passed, I am deeply saddened that I will never hear his voice again in new Batman projects. Watching movies and playing games with his performance will not feel the same as it was anymore. It will now feel like going through a memory book with an old friend or relative who has passed. However, these memories will still make me happy because although we will never hear him in new projects, listening to him in old projects will still remind me of the impact he’s had on me and the rest of the world. I also know that he will be in a better place. I am thinking that he is probably catching up with Adam West on their tenures as Batman and how they impacted the entire world. Batman is a character I grew up with and is still my comfort character today. I will always associate Kevin’s voice with the character whenever I read a comic book or have conversations with friends about Batman. In the end, I will continue to cherish the memories I have of Kevin Conroy’s performance and also think about the impact he has made on me and other fans around the world.

 

For Kevin Conroy

1955-2022

You will be missed