In his decades as the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy likely hasn't had any one production that has had the kind of expectations, or controversy, that the feature-length adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's Batman: The Killing Joke has.
The movie debuted at Comic Con, with a half an hour of new footage that was meant, in part, to keep long-standing criticism of the graphic novel at bay...but instead it outraged fans for a whole different reason. Even before that, though, an R-rating, a theatrical release that sold out screens across the country, and the return of Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker had already made the film one of the most talked-about comics movies of the year...which is saying something.
Conroy joined ComicBook.com at a press event for the film last week at Comic Con International: San Diego. You can check it out here, or read on below.
ComicBook.com: What do you think about The Killing Joke? Like is this something you've wanted to do for years or is this fairly?
Kevin Conroy: This is actually a new experience for me, I was not as familiar with it. I had heard of it of course because it's famous and it's iconic but I'd never actually read it. Mark introduced me to it.
Once I got turned on to it I thought, "Oh my God, I so want to be a part of this." It's dark and you really get to explore areas of Batman and the Joker that you haven't seen before. That's why they had to go with an R rating. There's just, you couldn't be true to the story without doing that so I love doing it. Mark, you know we have a special relationship working together.
ComicBook.com: Now the producers have talked about how you need to do the story this way so they don't regret the R rating but they do feel bad about you have a Batman movie that kids can't watch. For you who you haven't done every Batman they've done recently but your kind of my generation's Batman, is it interesting to grow up with us at this point?
Conroy: You know it is, it is and what's interesting is trying to keep it fresh and keep it consistent all these years. I love coming to the Comic Cons because now I get the parents and the next generation, the kids that they're introducing to the character. These shows are still so fresh, even the ones from the 90's.
You look at them, they were like they were just made. They're so beautifully done and I get different generations of audience now. That's a wonderful thing to be able to share with the audience.
ComicBook.com: Now obviously the process and the animation and everything is wildly different when you look at the features versus something like Justice League Action. Does that affect your process at all or is it more or less still the same work?
Conroy: The nice thing about animation is that the actors are done first. We record first. Your recording is almost like a radio play like those old fashioned radio plays. Our acting is not going to be influenced by what the artwork's going to be like down the road.
Then the vocal tapes are sent to the artist and their inspiration comes from that. The actors are really taking their inspiration in the story, not from the way it's going to be rendered.
ComicBook.com: No. I think that one of the interesting things about The Killing Joke and then Bruce touched on this, is that there's not really traditional superhero third act. Batman doesn't get to come in and kick ass and have the big action sequence. For you as a voice actor, did that give you almost an obligation to explore a different territory?
Conroy: Actually for a voice actor it's great because those big kick ass action scenes, there's no voice acting in.
There's just grunting and that's a lot of big, there are big sections of each show where all we're doing is grunting and there's not a lot of acting involved. Since that's not in this, there's so much more acting. For us it was great that that didn't exist.0comments
ComicBook.com: You've done lots of different iterations of Batman at this point. If you had in 20 words to say why The Killing Joke is something that you think everybody should rush out and see, what is the big appeal of this Batman?
Kevin Conroy: Wow. It's the iconic conflict of good and evil more so than in any of the other Batman incarnations.