Kevin Conroy Calls Out Christian Bale’s Batman Voice

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 10:10 am,

Batman on Batman Kevin Conroy Calls Out Christian Bales Batman Voice

Batman has always been known for his duality, but this is ridiculous. Kevin Conroy’s panel at C2E2 on Friday gave us an interesting look into his world as the voice of animated Batman. While he mentioned the progress of the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum 2, the real treat was his words of disappointment with Christian Bale’s infamous Batman voice.

A civil war has brewed amongst fans on whether Bale’s husky voice work is good or bad since he first appeared as the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins. Now, we get a professional opinion. It’s tough to find more expertise than the most recognizable voice of the Dark Knight, Kevin Conroy. You may expect him to be coy with answers and simply praise Bale, but the man spoke his version of the truth.

When asked if Warner Bros. has ever requested he dub of The Dark Knight, the entire room laughed with Conroy before he gave an answer. Even better, he starts it off with his version of the awesome movie line, “I’m not wearing hockey pads.” See it for yourself with our video from the event. (Apologies for the audio mix-up near the beginning)

The passion with which people hate Christian Bale’s voice work is amusing, if not overwhelming. It is important to take a look at the character objectively and figure out why such an esteemed actor would choose to take it to such extremes.

Bruce Wayne’s goal to instill fear in his enemies is more than a cape and mask. It’s also more than “an idea.” The voice is an extension of his intimidation. While a line of dialogue here and there can become awkwardly forced with his raspy voice, it is part of the persona of Batman. If anything, it makes Wayne more human. But I understand many will not side with that sentiment, and their argument is sound with years of proof from Kevin Conroy that it can be done.

Video of the rest of Kevin Conroy’s discussion,will be up by the end of the weekend. It’s a great 25-minute up close look at the “classic Batman” with stories on how he got started with the character and its evolution throughout the years.

Batman Gotham Knight Kevin Conroy Kevin Conroy Calls Out Christian Bales Batman Voice

In addition to giving his fellow Batman a hard time, Conroy mentioned he had finished primary recording for Arkham Asylum 2 and expects the game to be finished by the end of the year. Based on a report from our own Game Rant, that seems a dubious claim.

If you are a fan of the animated Batman series, specifically with Mark Hamill as the Joker, Conroy shared some awe for the colleague’s performances. Stories of intensity and camaraderie between the two were intriguing and gave us an idea just why the characters are so powerful.

Voice your opinion on the Christian Bale voice debate below and let us know if you side with Conroy or Bale in the comments section below.

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  1. I have two points; one I can completely understand Bale’s voice, I’m 100% I could identify everyone I know purely based on their voice, as in they could put on a costume to hide their identity then speak in their normal voice and I would immediately know who it is. Second; how people can see Conroy is batman is beyond me, he does an impressive voice in the animated versions and games but that is not even comparable to playing the character in a live action movie.

    • Batman the dark knight is one series of many different versions of batman. A film is not a mirror of the comic, book or what ever. All film is an adaptation of a script that is an adaptation of the original material. The first actor to portray the gravel voice was Michael Keaton. Bale has made the choice to take Keaton’s style as both franchises are from the dark knight series. Conroy is a VOICE actor with more than 20 years experience, bale, though committed is not a well trained actor at all. WB are responsible for batman from animation to live action who voices, who directs, how dark it is and how many toys can they sell.

    • I agree with you 100%, Identifying someone by there voice is easy as hell, no point in wearing a mask if your gonna “scream your real name.”

    • Conroy has been voicing Bruce Wayne/Batman for over TWENTY YEARS.

      It was his voice I grew up on, being and avid fan of the animated series as a 90′s kid. Sure. I saw the movies, but all of those actors were such temporary things….

      Think about it. A movie is maybe about three hours long. Up until Bale, nearly ever Batman played that role only once, and one of them did it twice. Now how many hours did we hear Conroy through the TAS series? The cross-over movies? Justice League. Justice League Unlimited. Batman Beyond.

      Conroy has been Batman longer than anyone else. And he is in my opinion, the very best of them. He has portrayed more character and emotion through his voice alone than any other acter managed on screen.

    • Silly point really. I can recognize 99 out of every 100 people I know if I can see their eyes and face from the nose down. If you liked the voice, in and of itself, good for you. If you are like me, and did NOT like the voice. Don’t try to justify on some fanboy lame excuse. Even if we let the concept pass, that only through voice could he be recognized, you are trying to tell me one of the richest men on earth had to resort to grumbling to disguise his voice? Couldn’t he have just made a…. Wait sorry, this is Nolan’s Batman…. Couldn’t he have just had lucius fox make him up voice distortion equipment? And why did he tend to talk like William Shatner sometimes?

    • Kevin Conroy is a voice actor. Christian Bale is an actor. They have both played the part of Batman, but it’s ridiculous to think putting on a costume makes you Batman! Bruce Wayne is Batman because of his past. It’s the story that makes Batman, not the costume. A random person can put on the Batsuit, but that doesn’t make him or her Batman. So the main factor in deciding who is Batman between Kevin Conroy and Christian Bale is who knows the story better? Who is more emotional tied to Batman when they are on screen and off?

      The first question is easy to answer. Kevin Conroy knows Batman better than any other actor. He has voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in over 30 different TV shows, movies, and video games. Christian Bale can’t compete in this category.

      I think it is safe to say the first question answers the second question. Kevin Conroy has devoted his career to bringing Batman to life, and his passion for the character is reflected in his work. Christian Bale was a good Batman. I enjoyed watching the movies, but they didn’t enthrall me, like Conroy’s work does, partial because of the voice.

      So I feel if anyone on this earth has the right to say “I’m Batman” it is Kevin Conroy.

  2. both guys are good, at a diffrent version of batman. conroy does the animated versions, which for the most part are batman being the worlds greatest detective, not as much intimdation. christian bales batman was mostly just the dark “i beat the crap out of bad guys” not as much detective work, and more the dark origins of the character. personaly i like them both, i like the change up, and having something to compare the other one to.

  3. I LOVE BALE’S BATMAN VOICE! that’s all i gotta say :)

  4. Bale was chosen for the Batman role for the right reasons, but I do think he was overdoing the voice in The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises. The idea held by some that Conroy slammed Bale completely for the Batman role is wrong. Conroy only commented on the overdone voice. And he was right. The voice in DK and DKR was overdone

  5. I understand why Bruce changes his voice as Batman. However, Bale’s version is very awkward, bad, and weird. His voice isn’t scary. It’s just socially awkward. That’s what fans are trying to say. We want him to change his voice, but not how Bale is doing it.

    • +1
      Hadn’t thought of it myself like that, but outstanding point.

  6. Bale’s voice as Batman definitely fit the style that they were going for in the newer batmans. It’s completely different than the older more theatrical versions of batman. Not to say that one is better, they’re just different. If you took Bale and put him in Batman and Robin, or Batman Forever it would be absolutely ridiculous. And vice versa with placing a Val Kilmer or Michael Keaton in one of the newer ones, it just wouldn’t work, it’s just a different style….. But I would like to comment on Bane’s voice in Dark Knight Rises, it was terrible!! Forget about Bale and his voice, am I the only one that thought the voice overs for Bane was awful, hard to understand, entirely too much low ends, and just a stupid voice in general.

  7. Personally I think in the classic Batman animations and films (also games) Conroy’s voice is perfect for the Gothan guardian, but for the more modern, darker and grittier Dark Knight trilogy Bale’s voice is perfect as it sounds fierce and covers his identity. So both are good in different settings.

    • I would say Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a darker movie than the Dark Knight trilogy.

  8. How about instead of having the actor use an extremely hoarse voice for Batman, have the character himself use a voicebox to deepen his voice. Anybody remember Green Arrow from Smallville? If not, then have the voice of Batman be extremely different but not as raspy and weird. Batman should have a voice that makes him sound like a bad guy or an anti-hero. A voice that is dark, gritty, and shady. Like Kevin Conroy’s voice…but mixed with smooth rocks.

  9. For me, Christian Bale’s Batman voice was way over the top. It was painfully forced, and it really reflected a poor understanding of the character.

    It was one of many things that had me intensely disliking Chis Nolan’s / Christian Bale’s approach to The Batman mythology.

    I understand all about the “realistic” need for there two be two distinct voices for the two personas to avoid revealing any connection between the two. I even wholeheartedly AGREE with it. After all, actors of Superhero productions have been doing this for years (Re: Chris Reeves’ Superman, Michael Keaton’s and Kevin Conroy’s Batman, etc.)

    But here is the point I think everyone is missing: A painfully forced GROWL (like the one Christian Bale used as The Batman) only draws attention to the idea that The Batman is a “masquerade” since the voice clearly is a “put on”. Therein lies the error in thinking (in my opinion).

    You see, The Batman is NOT the “masquerade” (aka the “disguised” personality). The true “masquerade” is Bruce Wayne.

    HE is the one who behaves as if he hasn’t a care in the world… behaves as if he is disinterested in the workings of his own company… behaves as if he is an arrogant, spoiled, airhead, richboy. But these things are an ACT. We KNOW that The Batman shares none of these qualities.

    So if Bruce is the disguise, then it seems to me that anything “fake” or “put on” (like his voice) should be connected to Bruce. That means a voice that is (intentionally) higher pitched and jovial and disinterested.

    That leaves The Batman’s voice to just be natural… full of the character’s TRUTHFUL (lower registered) angst, heartache, darkness, isolation, outrage, and menace.

    These are the things that Kevin Conroy has understood so well over the 20 years of performing the character.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t put it better myself, and i couldn’t agree more.

  10. Now, hand in hand with what I’ve written above, I think the Batman should be VERY VERY sparse with his words.

    Having him talk too much (particularly in live-action works) really reduces his mystique, I think.

    I realize this minimalist handling is not always possible due to the needs of the story that is being told.

    However, I just think that wherever and whenever possible, the character is FAR more imposing, and frightening when he hardly speaks.

    I believe this “strong-silent type” was the kind of approach that Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s intended when they created The Batman.

    Economy with his words makes him seem less human and more spooky… kind of like Boba Fett in STAR WARS, or Michael Myers in “Halloween”.

  11. I read all the comments and also the article.I dont understand
    why nobody (including the great conroy) are so negative.Why do
    everyone find it so difficult to appreciate an actors unique
    work.And by the way I’m a huge fan of Bale’s batman voice.It
    was so innovative.

  12. The way I see it, Kevin Conroy does a way better voice. I think his Batman is more like the comic Batman as well. Christian Bale’s Batman and the Christopher Nolan series in general are far too dark. DC never has been very good at making movies. Marvel has them beat on that one, but DC’s shows and games are far superior to Marvel’s. If DC wants to start making good movies, I’d base the overall feel of them off of they’re animated universe. The Batman Arkham games are the best representation of Batman I’v seen. Both Roger Craig Smith and Kevin Conroy do a great job. DC needs to base Batman in film off of their voices, and how he looks off of Batman Arkham and Batman the Animated Series.

  13. bales batman is a snooze fest bale was carried but neesons ras ledgers joker and hardy’s bane (without a doubt one of the most underrated performances in recent memory i loved tom hardys bane) throw in aaron eckharts amazing harvey dent and gary oldmans jim gordon and its definitely not surprising at all that no one has realized how bad bales batman really

    i just did a marathon of the triology and literally not one NOT ONE bale batman scene sticks out to me and if it does it was because of one of the people i mentioned above forgot anne hathaways catwoman which was pretty flawless for the most part IMO

  14. I also grew up on the animated series. No matter how gravely you make Batmans voice in a movie, I will still always think of batman as Conroy. I think that bale just exaggerates the graveliness a bit too much. I understand that she wants to instill fear into the villians, but I think that it has gotten to the point where it no longer puts fear into the hearts of the villians, but makes us as the audience so distracted that we have to have a debate about a voice. Besides, no cillian except the gang members of thugs even seemed scared. Bane, no. Scarecrow, obviously not. He’s supposed to be fear. Joker, why should he. It makes no sense to me to have batman have a gravelly voice. As I said before, I grew up with conroy, so I am very sentimental towards the best batman voice. Thank you.

  15. I’m not a big fan of the Bale Batvoice, but it’s not completely horrible. Not anywhere as good as Conroy’s take but not horrible. I always got the sense that Chris Nolan had Bale not only continue but intensify the voice in the second two movies if only because all the reviews talked about the voice as a big issue, when in reality it’s a petty complaint in the grand scheme of the movies being discussed. The Dark Knight trilogy is incredible from start to finish (Dark Knight Rises isn’t even that bad as far as third movies goes) and I’m sure it irritated Nolan that in the middle of reviews that ostensibly discuss the cinematography, writing, themes and acting (all of which are very complex with a lot to discuss) reviewers were all like “but man, that VOICE.” So I think of the Bale-voice in the latter two movies being more like a middle finger to critics, as in “screw all of you for making it an issue, now I’m going to make it REALLY grate on your nerves!”