Batman fans will eternally debate who is the best on-screen Batman (it’s probably Michael Keaton). However, there’s only one voice of Batman.
Kevin Conroy voiced the caped crusader for three full decades. His passing two months ago has left a deep wound in the fanbase.
But the death of the dark knight also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the greatest Kevin Conroy Batman moments.
Everyone’s list is a little bit different, which is a testament to the depth and breadth of Conroy’s performances. Here’s my tribute to the world’s greatest detective.
5. Outsmarting Darkseid.
This scene from Superman/Batman apocalypse encapsulates Batman’s bold heroism. He doesn’t have any superpowers and he’s staring down one of the strongest aliens in the universe. He has no chance of physically overpowering the tyrannical lord of Apokolips. Instead, Batman relies on his wits as he threatens to blow up Darkseid’s planet if the terrible titan doesn’t let Supergirl go.
Batman doesn’t kill people, but Conroy’s performance is convincing. Personally, I’m still not sure if he was bluffing or not. Darkseid was the first to fold as he showed respect to the courageous mortal.
4. The grave of Superman.
This one hurts more knowing that Conroy is no longer with us. This brief moment packs an emotional punch. Throughout the episode, Batman is the only member of the Justice League who doesn’t believe that Superman is dead. As he continues his detective work, he lets his guard down as doubt begins to seep in. Just in case he’s wrong, he takes a moment to say goodbye to his friend:
“You taught me that justice doesn’t always have to come from the darkness.”
And Conroy taught us to find the light in the darkness.
3. It’s been an honor.
This scene took audiences and Batman’s colleagues by surprise. In the scene, Thanagarians have taken over Earth and Batman decides to use the watchtower as a makeshift missile to take down their control center. This is shocking enough, but he doesn’t tell The Flash and the Martian Manhunter that the watchtower needs to be manually controlled through orbit.
He locks his peers in an escape hatch and lets them know that he won’t be joining them. Instead, he is going to pilot the watchtower himself. The resulting crash will mean certain death but the caped crusader doesn’t hesitate to make the ultimate sacrifice. Conroy’s Batman bids farewell to the justice league:
“Gentlemen, it’s been an honor.”
When Superman learns what Batman is doing, he saves his life at the last moment. Still, Batman’s willingness to die for the cause is inspiring and Conroy’s delivery adds a layer of believability. You forget that you’re watching an animated series as the emotions start stirring.
Yes, Kevin, it’s been an honor.
2. Batman vs Batman
This scene depicts Batman and the rest of the Justice League in an alternative world in which the Justice Lords rule supreme. The Justice Lords have zero tolerance for crime of any level, and they limit the freedom of civilians to ensure peace. Batman has a showdown with himself, walking right up to the line that he would never cross.
When our Batman questions the Justice Lord’s power grab, his dance partner appeals to the loss of their parents:
“And with that power, we’ve made a world where no 8-year-old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun.”
Batman surrenders for the time being, overtaken by the line. However, when the two witness the police state arresting a restaurant patron for complaining about service, our Batman starts to get through to the alternative Dark Knight:
“They’d love it here, don’t you think? Mom and dad, they’d be so proud of you.” Bruce says sarcastically.
Kevin played both Batmans seamlessly, externalizing his constant internal conflict.
1. Comforting Ace before she dies.
At the end of the Justice League, there’s an episode in which Amanda Waller is recapping stories about Batman’s life to a young Terry McGinnis so that he might better understand Bruce Wayne. The standout story in this series is Batman’s encounter with a member of the Royal Flush Gang.
The scene showed that Batman’s greatest strength is his humanity. Ace, a child with psychic powers, is about to die. The resulting psychic blast will take several miles of city block with her. Amanda Waller informs the Justice League that Ace has to be killed before this happens. Surprisingly, the typically non-lethal Batman volunteers for the job. Since he’s the only one Ace actually likes, he thinks that he will be able to get close enough to get the job done.
However, Batman was never going to kill Ace. Instead, he stays with her and convinces her to undo her psychic activity before she dies. Batman’s own troubled childhood helps him relate to Ace’s situation.
“They got their weapon, I got cheated out of my childhood.” Ace laments her upbringing.
“I know what that’s like.” Batman relates.
He stayed with her on her swing until she died. Conroy’s simple and direct delivery drives the scene home.
Conroy might have left us, but his thirty years of performances will last for generations to come.
We bid farewell to the definitive Batman.