People who have known me for a long time know that I generally shorthand my opinion of Batman as, “I don’t like Batman, except for The Animated Series.” My actual taste for the Dark Knight Detective is a bit more complex than that, but here’s the thing:
Batman: The Animated Series (and its associated spin-off cartoons) is the best version of the DC Universe. And a LARGE part of that is due to the stellar voice cast.
And Kevin Conroy was the voice of Batman.
For a whole generation of kids, Kevin Conroy wasn’t just the voice of Batman in a cartoon from 30 years ago.
He is THE VOICE OF BATMAN. Period. Full-Stop. No disrespect to anyone else that’s voiced the character in the last 30 years, but for all of us younger Gen X/elder Millennial folks, he’s the one and only Caped Crusader.
It’s Conroy’s voice that goes through our head when we read Batman in comics. He kept getting called back to do Batman’s voice in other animated projects, and video games. Hell, he even recently got to portray a live-action Batman in part of the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover between their various DC Comics-insired shows.
One of my favorite stories to tell about how iconic his voice was, is there was one day in 2015 where I was working at Samurai Comics in Phoenix. One of my co-workers brought in his Batman: The Animated Series DVDs and put on a random disc. I started filing away back issues, not looking at the TV. I heard Batman talking and didn’t think anything of it. And then I heard Kevin Conroy’s voice talking back to Batman, and had to stop and look at what was going on. Turns out it was the episode Beware the Gray Ghost, where Adam West — Who payed Batman in the 1966 TV series — was a guest voice, playing the Gray Ghost, a fictional TV hero that young Bruce Wayne watched as a kid. I’d definitely watched Batman ’66 a lot as a kid, so hearing his voice and assuming it was Batman was only natural. But when I heard Conroy speak, my brain just shut down for a moment and thought, “No, THAT’S Batman’s voice.”
Kevin Conroy was so good at playing Batman that he’s ruined nearly every other version of the character for me.
Rest in peace, Mr. Conroy. Thank you for decades of entertainment.