Nearly 25 years ago, Batman: The Animated Series debuted and defined the Dark Knight for an entire generation. The series also defined the voice of Batman by introducing Kevin Conroy in the role, and Conroy is still lending his voice to the Caped Crusader today. In fact, Conroy was at Comic-Con 2016 to promote not just one but two different projects where he voices Batman, and he told ComicBook.com’s Lucas Siegel that he had “No clue in the world” when he first auditioned that he’d still be doing this job two and a half decades later. In fact, he was trying to get a role playing practically anyone other than Bruce Wayne.
“When I first went in and met Andrea Romano, and Paul Dini, and Bruce Timm, and Alan Brunett, who were the first creative team, I was kind of pitching myself, because I had never done animation before,” Conroy recalls. “This was the first animation audition I had, and I went in, and I said, ‘Well, what about Bullock? That would be a cool character to play. Or Commissioner Gordon? I can really do Commissioner Gordon.’ And they said, ‘Don’t you understand? We’re interested in you for Batman.’” Even so, he says he was still pitching himself for other characters that he thought would be “more fun to play” while auditioning for Batman.
The two projects Conroy is currently promoting are practically polar opposites of each other. On one end is the dark, psychological thriller Batman: The Killing Joke. On the other end is Justice League Action, a high-energy, short-form animated series. Despite the tonal disparity, Conroy says he doesn’t approach the projects any differently.
“I have to admit, I don’t because the audience is so familiar with Batman, they’re so devoted to him,” Conroy explains. “The Batman fans are very passionate. You have to be consistent. You have to be true to the character no matter what situation he’s in. And in The Killing Joke, it’s such a dark, frightening place that he goes to, but it’s the same character.
“In Justice League Action, it’s that character, that same brooding, dark character, but in a more ridiculous situation,” he continues. “There’s still a lot of action and adventures in it, but there’s a little bit of a more ridiculous side to it, so it opens itself up to a little bit of comedy, which I loved playing, and the audience at the screening really reacted well to.”
Conroy says jumping into the 11-minute episodic format of Justice League Action is a “relief” from the long, solitary process of working on video games like Batman: Arkham Knight, for which he recorded 36,000 lines of dialogue.0comments
“It’s not as fulfilling as acting in the episodic shows because those are like little plays,” Conroy says, “so you have the interaction with the other actors that’s so much fun. Games, the fulfillment is in seeing the game at the end, because they’re fantastic. They’re beautiful works of art, and you feel so proud to be a part of them, but the actual process of building them is brutal.”
Batman: The Killing Joke is available digitally now, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 2. Justice League Action premieres on Cartoon Network this fall.