For the generation who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series six days a week on television, Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman, at least as far as voice work goes.
However, when it comes to live-action, the mantle of the bat has been passed down from actor to actor. In the early 2000s, Christian Bale played the grounded, realistic Batman of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy – Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises.
This year Ben Affleck put on Batman’s cape and cowl for the first time to become the batman of the DC Extended Universe in DC Films’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, embodying the weathered, older Batman of Frank Miller’s seminal Dark Knight Returns.
Speaking to ScreenGeek, Conroy was asked who his favorite live-action Batman was. While he seems a little confused by Warner Bros.’ decision to recast the role so often, and a bit put off by Bale’s distinctive Batman growl, Conroy sang the praises of both live-action, cinematic Batmans of the 21st Century.
“When I first heard they were going to have different actors, well I thought – that’s really weird. Why don’t they establish a franchise?” Conroy said. “Each actor brings such a different art to the character. It’s really fun. I think Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne was probably the best Bruce Wayne. I think the voice he used for Batman was bizarre. I think Ben Affleck – a lot of people gave him a lot of crap for getting cast. People on Twitter were going crazy about it and I said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. Give him a chance.’ I think he surprised a lot of people. He’s really wonderful. He does really well on both Batman and Bruce Wayne. So, I think it’s fun to see different actors what they do with it.”
Similarly, the Joker has also been played in live-action by multiple 21st-century actors like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight and Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. However, live-action or animated, for Conroy, there’s one Joker who stands above the rest. While Conroy expresses a lot of respect for Ledger’s work in The Dark Knight, it should come as no surprise to Batman: The Animated Series fans that he still favors Mark Hamill.
“Like Mark Hamill, I thought was hands down the most incredible Joker,” Conroy says. “But then we saw what Heath Ledger did, and wow this just a crazy amount of crazy. He’s not better than Mark but he’s just another kind of crazy, you know.”
Ben Affleck will have his second outing as the DC Extended Universe’s Batman in Justice League, which sees Batman, inspired by the death of Superman, bringing together Earth’s heroes to form a team. Justice League opens in theaters on Nov. 17, 2017.