Kevin Conroy was the greatest Batman ever.

Kevin Conroy, the legendary voice actor, has died at the age of 66. He is best remembered for his role as Batman in the animated series from 1990.

Conroy started playing the DC hero during the highly-acclaimed Batman: The Animated SeriesIt all began in 1992. Conroy then voiced the character in over 60 productions, including animated movies, television shows and video games.

Conroy is Batman, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at him. Conroy isn’t the muscular, brooding actor who played Bruce Wayne, such as Robert Pattinson or Michael Keaton. Conroy was thin, gay, and had light brown hair. That’s not what you’d expect from Bruce Wayne.

He was more than just an animated cell. Conroy’s Batman was a character that could instill fear in his enemies with just a few threats words, but not the cliched growling of Christopher Nolan.

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Conroy’s voice was calm and present. It managed to make the jargon comic book characters use to communicate with their audiences without sounding cliched or corny. Conroy’s charisma brought a depth to Batman’s character that was able to help him in moments of great empathy.

The Justice League Unlimited episode “Epilogue” is the best example. In the episode, Batman orders Ace of Royal Flush Gang to kill him. Ace is actually a little girl with a terminal condition. She has extreme telekinetic abilities that can kill people. Batman tells Ace he is sorry, and he sits on a swing until Ace’s time. Although it might seem a bit too dramatic for a children’s superhero show, this is an incredibly moving scene and it’s difficult to imagine any other Batman actor performing this scene apart from Conroy.

Justice League: Unlimited- Death Of

Conroy wasn’t able to find Batman, but he also found Bruce Wayne. They are three characters that are very different. Conroy could play Wayne the socialite front-facing version with the same sophisticated charm and style of a Golden Age Hollywood actor. However, Conroy couldn’t find the dark side of Wayne.

Talk to The Hollywood ReporterConroy stated that 2017 was the year of the Batman voice. “Early on, I said, ‘This is the most famous and powerful guy in Gotham. Are you telling me he just puts on a mask and no one knows it’s him? Seriously? There’s got to be more to the disguise. My template for the two voices was the 1930s film The Scarlet Pimpernel. I played Bruce Wayne as sort of a humorous playboy to counteract the brooding nature of Batman.”

Perhaps Conroy’s crowning achievement as Batman was the widely celebrated 1992 film Mask of the Phantasm which is a retelling of Batman’s origins and sheds new light on how he used the tragedy of his parent’s deaths to create the Caped Crusader, which ignited personal memories for Conroy.

Speaking in 2018 he said: “Bruce pleads with his parents. I was the one who brought up something in me. My father and I had a very difficult relationship. He was a terrible drinker and I had to leave home at 17. There were many unresolved emotions and that scene in the graveyard brought them all up. I don’t know why, as an actor you never know why a certain chord is hit. Actors are open to any chord being hit.

I didn’t count on being

The emotional resonance that Conroy brought to Batman is perhaps why he has endured as the one true voice of Batman for three decades now. Filmmaker, writer, podcast host and Batman fanatic Kevin Smith has long said that Conroy’s voice is the one he hears when he reads a Batman comic and its hard to disagree with that sentiment. This was after a person who had been synonymous with the character for so long that it is hard to separate the two.

It was perhaps fitting then that Conroy finally got to play a live-action version of Batman during the 2019 CW crossover event Crisis On Infinite Earths. In an episode of Batwoman, the titular character visits a world where Wayne had become a bitter, nihilistic killer who had managed to defeat Superman.

Given that this was an actor who had brought so much compassion to the character this was perhaps not the Batman role that fans or he would have wanted to see him play. Talking on the Inside You podcast in 2020 Conroy addressed the backlash saying: “He was dark, he was dark. A lot of fans were not happy about that. They didn’t like seeing that version of Bruce Wayne. For me it was fun though – it was a lot of fun to sort of stretch my acting chops a bit.”

The final time that Conroy played Batman was in the 2022 video game MultiVersus which shows that he was still tied to the character right until his last days which shouldn’t be viewed as a sad note but something to be celebrated.

On a personal point, from this writer’s perspective, who used to marvel at the display of animation cells at the Warner Bros store in Dudley’s Merry Hill shopping centre as a child and still has the original action figures from the animated it’s hard to believe that the voice of Batman is now gone. All you can say is rest in peace Kevin and thanks for the memories. You truly were Batman.

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