Kevin Conroy has been Batman for almost a quarter of a century. He has been the character’s voice through Batman: The Animated Series, the Batman: Arkham games, and a handful of animated movies. When he has something to say about the character, it’s worth hearing.
While speaking to IGN to promote the new animated film Batman: The Killing Joke, Conroy talked about the keys to playing the character, and for the most part, he’s pretty open to various interpretations. “I think it’s really interesting to see different actors in the role, to see what they bring to the character,” says Conroy. “Everyone brings something different.” He continued:
“I liked Michael Keaton and I like what Ben Affleck is doing with it now. But they couldn’t be more different. It’s just the same with the Joker. When I started working with Mark Hammill I thought no one would ever nail the Joker better than Mark Hamill, and then I saw Heath Ledger, and he knocked it out of the park in just a different way.
There are so many valid ways of playing a role. It’s really fun to watch different actors do it. So I thought it was a really interesting choice that WB made to have different actors do the live-action character.”
However, he does take issue with the way the character is portrayed. For example, one of the reasons he loves the Arkham games is because Batman doesn’t kill, and he was unhappy that the character takes lives in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
“In the most recent live action movie, that seems to have been a line that was crossed and it’s not one I’m particularly comfortable with.”
Of course, Batman did kill in his earlier comics and even used a gun. But I agree with Conroy that Batman shouldn’t kill otherwise his world makes no sense. Why would you lock up people like the Joker when you could kill them? Why kill Random Thug #18 and let your arch-nemesis live to see another day?
It also makes Batman less noble than his foes. If it’s just killers versus killers, than Batman isn’t much of a hero. It turns Batman into the Punisher, and while the Punisher serves a purpose, he has already carved out that niche. Batman appeals to a higher standard, and hopefully it’s one that future Batman movies will aspire towards.
Also, to be fair, it’s odd that Conroy is uncomfortable with Batman crossing the no-killing line, but he’s fine with The Killing Joke, which writes in Batman and Batgirl having sex even though in the comics, Batman has always had more of a paternal relationship with Batgirl than a romantic one. It’s not as egregious a misstep as Batman killing people, but Conroy’s latest Batman movie isn’t completely without fault.