There will always be a debate about who the best Batman is—Michael Keaton? Christian Bale? Ben Affleck? The Dark Knight News team ranked their favorite Batman actor recently and the results were, in my opinion, shocking. A name that sadly often gets left off that list, for no good reason, is Kevin Conroy. For a generation of kids, he was our Batman every Saturday morning. As those kids grew up, he became the voice of Batman in nearly every animated incarnation of the character, including the popular Arkham Asylum games. For us, when we read Batman in the comics, we hear none other than Conroy’s portrayal as The Dark Knight—he is Batman.
That’s why when he talks about Batman, it’s with such authority. Although he’s just the man behind the voice, is there anyone that knows the character better? He’s been Batman for over 25 years now. He’s the guy that made Bruce Wayne the disguise and Batman the real person. There can be an argument made that Conroy is the reason that Batman is as popular as he is. While Joel Schumacher was keeping things light, Conroy continued to keep Batman dark—in a cartoon for kids.
BATMAN AND KILLING
Most heroes don’t cross the line—killing. Batman may make a bad guy think his life is in danger… he may even break a few bones, but he has one rule. According to Conroy, Batman will never kill. “I personally don’t think Batman kills and I love that about him.” His reasoning is practical too:
“That was something they [DC Comics] established early on and it ended up benefiting them so enormously because years later they realized, ‘Wait a minute, we have this rogues gallery of crazy villains and they’re all in Arkham Asylum. Let’s get em! Let’s get them out of there and let’s open it up.’ And then you had the whole Arkham series of games that they were able to do out of that.”
The easy path is to just kill the Joker, but not only does that go against The Dark Knight’s code, it’s bad storytelling. Kill the Joker and you don’t have him for future stories—and while most characters never stay dead, keeping the bad guys alive adds to the story. It allows for a story where everyone knows that if the Joker was dead, Gotham would be better off for it. But Batman can’t allow that—another death isn’t worth the peace Gotham would have.
Kevin Conroy was last heard as Batman in Batman and Harley Quinn and in the Justice League Action Shorts. We’ll next see the character of Batman, played by Ben Affleck, in Justice League, hitting theaters November 17, 2017.