A tribute to Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman for 30 years


Candice Dunlap Miller

“Kevin Conroy” by Candice Dunlap Miller is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

On Dec. 8, at the Game Awards 2022, a new trailer for the upcoming video game “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League” dropped, which revealed that Kevin Conroy, longtime Batman voice actor, will reprise his role as the caped crusader in a posthumous appearance. Conroy passed away from intestinal cancer at the age of 66 on Nov. 10, 2022. He had not publicly disclosed he was ill. For fans of Conroy’s work, hearing his voice one last time as the Dark Knight is bound to be bittersweet. Because of this, we felt that a tribute to his life and work would be appropriate.

 If you’re a fan of Batman or have experienced any Batman media in the last thirty years, you’ve most likely heard his voice. Beginning with “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992, he had voiced the Dark Knight in multiple animated shows, movies and games all the way up to his death.

He holds the record of playing the role longer than any other actor and is noted as being the first actor to give distinct voices to Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in animation.

His impact on the role cannot be understated. For many he WAS Batman, and fans and colleagues of Conroy mourned when they heard he passed.

Conroy was born on Nov. 30, 1955, in Westbury, New York. He moved to New York City in 1973 after he earned a full scholarship to Julliard Schools drama division. There he studied under actor John Houseman and roomed with Robin Williams. He graduated from Julliard in 1978, where afterward he toured with Houseman’s acting group, the Acting Company.

In 1980, Conroy decided to try out for television and moved to California. He landed various roles in soap operas, TV shows and performed at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, in productions like “Hamlet” and a “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He would then go on to audition for “Batman: The Animated Series,” which ran from 1992-1995, as well as the theatrical film “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” and various straight-to-video films. He continued voicing the role in various spinoffs such as the “New Batman Adventures,” “Batman Beyond” and “Justice League.” He voiced Batman in the series of Arkham video games, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Knight. In total he played Batman in about 60 different productions, spanning 15 films, 400 episodes of television and lots more.

After the September 11th attacks in New York City, Conroy volunteered to cook for police officers and fire fighters. Conroy was surprised that so many emergency service workers recognized him and later, at the suggestion of another cook, he called out from the kitchen to the dining area in his Batman voice, saying “I am vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman!” The emergency service personnel applauded and cheered.

Conroy’s co-stars admired him and were very close. Mark Hamill, who played Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker, stated whenever he was offered to play Joker in a project, he would say “Is Kevin doing it? … I don’t even have to read the script, if Kevin’s doing it, I’ll do it.”

After Conroy’s passing, Hamill said “Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him — his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”

Andrea Romano, casting and dialogue director for “Batman: TAS,” also had kind words to say. 

“Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing. He was a dear friend for 30-plus years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries,” Romano said. “Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”

To honor Conroy, DC comics, the publisher behind Batman comics, made the issue DC PRIDE 2022 #1 free. In the issue is a short comic called “Finding Batman,” which was written by Conroy. The story explores Conroy’s struggle growing up in the 1950s and ’60s as a gay man. Those he thought were friends referred to him by hateful slurs and he struggled to get roles. He felt he had to live a dual life living in a bigoted world. When he auditioned for the role of Batman, he felt he identified with the character in many ways. A tormented past, a secret identity and years of anger, hurt and frustration. When he pictured himself as the character, the voice came from within. The rest is history.

 Though there have been many famous actors who’ve played Batman on the big screen and there will most definitely be more voice actors who attempt to imitate Conroy’s voice, his take on the character left a mark on fans that can never be replaced. Fans who read Batman comics will read them in his voice.

I wasn’t that interested in this Suicide Squad game when it was first announced in 2020, but I must admit I’m tempted to check it out, if only to just hear that final performance. To me and many other fans, he will always be our Dark Knight. Rest in peace, caped crusader.