Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Kevin Conroy's Greatest Moments As Batman

Kevin Conroy, one of the entertainment world's most prolific and beloved voice actors, has passed away at the age of 66 (via Deadline). Conroy was best known for playing billionaire Bruce Wayne and his vengeful alter-ego Batman across numerous animated television, film, and video game projects over the past three decades.

From "Batman: The Animated Series" to the tragically canceled project "Batman: Caped Crusader," Conroy gave every bit of himself to the world of the Dark Knight and became the definitive Batman for multiple generations of children and adults. It is immeasurably difficult to summarize his madly robust history with the role, and this piece must knowingly omit certain brief but indelibly important moments from Conroy's time in the cowl. While far from exhaustive or even comprehensive, these moments comprise the Batman performances that matter to Conroy's most valued crime-fighting partners — his fans.

In researching countless interviews for this piece, it has become clear that they all share one thing in common. Whether asked about the character of Batman, the experience of taking the role to live-action, or returning for another season of "Batman Beyond," Conroy continuously centered his perspective around his audience. "The response I get pretty regularly from fans is so heartfelt," he once said. "People talk about how the show affected them twenty years ago when they were growing up, and how they're now introducing their kids to it. People talk about Batman on such an intimate, adult level. You're not talking about a cartoon. You're really talking about a character who's very close to a lot of people." It is in that spirit of Conroy's modesty and reverence that we present some of his greatest moments at Batman.

Batman: The Animated Series

Kevin Conroy's tenure as the voice of the Caped Crusader began in 1992 with the seminal all-ages noir "Batman: The Animated Series." The actor told Bounding Into Comics that his audition came about mostly as a matter of chance. "It was the first animated character I ever auditioned for  ... it was a true Hollywood moment," he said.

Though he "nailed" his initial read for the role of Batman, he tried to talk voice director Andrea Romano into letting him audition for Detective Harvey Bullock, which Conroy found to be a more interesting character. "'Don't you get it?'" he once recalled Romano telling him, "'It's called "Batman." You would be in every episode! This is the role you should want!'"

At this point, Conroy asked if he could try another take for Batman, this time digging into the emotional core of the voice behind the mask. "The voice wasn't created in a vacuum," Conroy told DC.com, describing this aspect as the key to understanding Batman, "It's a voice that's very organic from deep inside the man."

Conroy drew his distinct and iconic Batman voice from the pain he experienced hiding his identity as a gay man growing up in the 50s and 60s, as beautifully told in his one-shot comic "Finding Batman." "I began to speak and a voice I didn't recognize came out," he recalled (via Kotaku). "It was a throaty husky rumbling sound that shook my body... It seemed to roar from 30 years of frustration, confusion, denial, love, yearning ... I felt Batman rising from deep within."

Per his interview with DC, one of Conroy's favorite episodes of the series was Season 1, Episode 26, "Perchance to Dream." Of his passing, Romano wrote, "Kevin's warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever."

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

After the success of the animated series, Warner Bros. sought to capitalize on this momentum and commissioned a feature film to be made in 1993. The film, titled "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm," would go on to be a critical hit despite failing commercially. In a retrospective for The Hollywood Reporter, prolific Joker voice actor Mark Hamill recalled seeing the movie on opening day in a New York theater with just 12 other fans — endearingly, he invited them all to sit with him and his family.

Kevin Conroy and Hamill became something akin to a traveling double act, bringing their respective performances as Batman and his arch-nemesis to countless television shows, video games, and — for this singular occasion — the silver screen. Conroy told DC, "Mark and I would [record lines] together as a rule, and we've always worked really well together. He's a very talented guy." Conroy went on to marvel at Hamill's extremely wide knowledge of animation.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter himself, Conroy described "Mask of the Phantasm" as his favorite Batman film. He expressed a similar sentiment to Nerd Reactor at San Diego Comic-Con, where he clarified that he was proud of how the film confronted Batman's complex psychology. His favorite scene in the film? Bruce Wayne's gut-wrenching gravesite plea for absolution to his parents (seen here). "Something came up in me," Conroy said of recording the scene. "I had a very problematic relationship with my father ... There were a lot of unresolved emotions there, and something in that graveyard scene brought all that stuff up..." 

Hamill contributed to Conroy's official obituary, writing, "Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother ... He will always be my Batman."

Batman Beyond

Kevin Conroy would reprise his role as Bruce Wayne in 1999, this time in a supporting capacity for the futuristic series "Batman Beyond." The story followed a young, wisecracking, hot-headed teen named Terry McGinnis, who becomes a technologically advanced version of Batman under the guidance of an aging Bruce Wayne. To the actor, the series mattered because it depicted what would come of Bruce when he could no longer be the Batman.

"They actually had me read for the role because Bruce Wayne, at that point, he's 80 and he physically can't do it anymore..." Conroy said at the New York Comic Con in 2020 (accessed via IGN). As he states, the turning point for the character was in the series premier "when he goes to shoot a gun ... that moment [when he realizes] that he's crossing that line, that he's relying on a gun because his own physical strength isn't enough anymore."

For this aged take on Bruce Wayne, the then-45-year-old Conroy approached the drastically senior role with a philosophical nature. "It wasn't so much the register of the voice... for me, it was more about the weight of life." That same year, Conroy told ComicBook.com that he would "love" to work with Terry McGinnis voice actor Will Friedle on more episodes of "Batman Beyond." "...We worked so well together," he said. "He's a great guy."

Batman: Arkham

In 2007, video game studio Rocksteady approached "Batman: The Animated Series" writer and co-creator Paul Dini to write the story for a new Batman game (per the Telegraph). Early on, Dini and his team wanted to incorporate classic aspects of Batman media, which now included Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill's performances as Batman and the Joker. The two would go on to star in a trilogy of games that received widespread commercial success and critical acclaim.

Conroy has often described the process of recording lines for the "Arkham" series as grueling, telling Collider in 2009 that it was "a grind." As opposed to the collaborative nature of "The Animated Series," the "Arkham" games would have Conroy working alone for eight hours a day until his lines were finished. When he wrapped the series' final chapter "Arkham Knight," the actor was relieved. He told ComicBook.com that for "Arkham Knight" alone, he recorded 36,000 voice lines. "...The fulfillment [of acting in video games] is in seeing the games at the end, because they're fantastic. They're beautiful works of art, and you feel so proud to be a part of them. But the actual process of building them is brutal."

Today, "Arkham City" holds the Guinness World Record for the most critically acclaimed superhero video game — a title it won from its own predecessor, "Arkham Asylum." Remembering Conroy's impact on the voice acting industry and the world at large, Paul Dini wrote, "Kevin brought a light with him everywhere, whether in the recording booth giving it his all, or feeding first responders during 9/11, or making sure every fan who ever waited for him had a moment with their Batman. A hero in every sense of the word. Irreplaceable. Eternal."

Crisis On Infinite Earths

In 2019, Kevin Conroy was given the chance to bring a twisted version of his Bruce Wayne to live action in Part 2 of The CW's massive "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event. On "Smallville" star Michael Rosenbaum's podcast, Conroy said, "[The writers] didn't tell me anything about the Batman [in "Crisis..."]. They just said he was the Batman in the future, an old Bruce Wayne ... I said, 'You mean like in "Batman Beyond" old Bruce Wayne?' They said, 'No... But he's older and he's in bad shape.'"

The Bruce Wayne of this earth had devolved into a ruthless murderer in his old age, his frail body aided by a cold and brutal exoskeleton. "The fans were not happy about that. They didn't like seeing that version of Bruce Wayne," he told Rosenbaum. "But for me it was fun, it was a lot of fun to sort of stretch my acting chops a little bit."

Returning to on-camera acting for the first time in over 20 years was a challenge in and of itself for the veteran voice actor. "It threw me at first," said Conroy to Entertainment Weekly. "I never approached this character from that physicalized aspect. I always just inhabited him with my voice ... I was surprised because I know the character so well." Conroy's episode is the most-watched "Batwoman" episode besides the pilot, as well as the second-most-watched "Crisis..." installment.

Seeing Conroy as an older Batman was a "bucket list" moment for Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim, who told EW, "He is Bruce Wayne." After hearing of his passing, Guggenheim tweeted, "My god... You were a gentleman, a scholar, and an actor's actor." For his part, Rosenbaum wrote, "Kevin was a remarkable man inside and out... You will always be my Batman."