Hello and welcome to an Adventure(s) Time's special installment, a look at animated heroes of the past. This week, we're covering a suggestion from reader Ethan Dragon. He asked about the changes actor Kevin Conroy has adopted over the years while voicing Batman. Given the excitement over the Blu-Ray release of Batman: The Animated Series, and the enduring love of Conroy's performance, this seemed like a great topic.
So, to begin, let's establish that Kevin Conroy was already working steadily before auditioning for the part of Batman. He's likely best known in live-action for his role in the CBS drama Tour of Duty. Conroy's a Juilliard trained actor, who actually roomed with Robin Williams while in school. (And studied with Kelsey Grammer at Juilliard. Just imagine Batman and the Beast's wild college days.)
Batman (TAS) Begins
Conroy auditioned for the role of Batman with no real knowledge of the character, outside of the old Adam West series. After the producers informed him this was the antithesis of their Batman, Conroy searched for inspiration. He found it in Hamlet, a role he performed earlier at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. The producers, following a frustrating search, were floored. They knew immediately they'd found their Batman.
The actor assumed he'd be doing "maybe twelve episodes" in 1991 when cast. He now holds the record for portraying Batman longer than any other actor. (Conroy speaks at length about his time as Batman with Lights Camera Austin.) Following the run of Batman: The Animated Series, Conroy returned for The New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.
Years later, he began voicing Batman for several of the animated films, beginning with 2008's Batman: Gotham Knight. (Cast there not only for his voice, but his ability to loop lines. A necessity for the film, animated in Japan with the dialogue dubbed in.) He's also voiced Batman in numerous video games. Most famously in the Arkham series, beginning with 2009's Arkham Asylum.