Kevin Conroy, who's been voicing Batman in animated form for a quarter-century now, has offered his thoughts on the DC Extended Universe's live-action iteration of the Caped Crusader, as portrayed by Ben Affleck.
A successful theater and TV performer in the 1980s and '90s, Conroy jumped head-first into the world of animation, when he landed the title role in the classic Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Conroy has been voicing the character almost continuously since then, through projects such as TV spinoffs like Justice League Unlimited, DC's direct to video animated feature films, and the wildly popular Arkham Asylum video games.
While never a live-action Batman himself, Conroy does follow the cinematic adventures of the character. In an interview with CBR, Conroy mused on Warner Bros.' constant recasting of the character and how he sees it as a strength:
You know, I thought it was weird when Warner Bros. didn’t give the franchise to one actor when the first started doing the films. You just assumed they were going to cast a Batman and he was going to carry the whole franchise. But then when I saw the different ones — Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer, [George Clooney], and Christian Bale — all the different takes, this was really smart, because each actor does it so differently. And I love seeing all the different takes.
Conroy went on to praise Affleck's version of the character as the one that strikes the best balance between Batman and Bruce Wayne:
I think some of them get Bruce Wayne more than they get Batman, and some of them get Batman more than they get Bruce Wayne. I think Ben Affleck has probably gotten the best balance of the two. He’s a really good Bruce Wayne and a really good Batman.
For a certain generation of fan, Conroy is the definitive Batman. It's impossible to read a comic featuring the Dark Knight and not hear that distinctive voice in your head. He also happens to have starred in perhaps the most beloved theatrical Batman film among hardcore fans, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (now out on remastered Blu-ray, starting this week). It's nice bit of Bat-solidarity that Conroy would the take time to praise Affleck's Batman, whose debut outing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earned a negative critical reception, with Affleck having since been the subject of rumors that he's being ushered out of the DCEU multiple times now.
The upcoming DCEU Justice League film looks as if it might be a win for Affleck's Batman, where he's seemingly portraying a more open-hearted, sneakily funny version of the character - which happens to echo Conroy's own version of the Caped Crusader. The DCEU will have some serious work ahead to make Affleck's Batman as beloved as Conroy's, but borrowing some of the latter's most iconic aspects is a good start.
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020