Kevin Conroy is rightly held up by many as the definitive vocal incarnation of Batman, having voiced the character in dozens of animated series and video games, beginning with the magnificent Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. It’s been known for a while that he’ll play the character in live action for the first time in “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” and Conroy has now stated that his portrayal will be different and darker than that seen in Batman Beyond.
For those unfamiliar, Batman Beyond is an animated series set in 2039 – 40 years in the future when it first aired – and sees an aged, retired and broken Bruce Wayne (voiced by Conroy) living in self-imposed isolation. He encounters Terry McGinnis, an athletic teenager whose father is murdered by the bodyguard of a ruthless businessman, and begins mentoring him as a replacement Dark Knight. The series was noted for being darker and more complex than much of children’s TV, delving into the affects of advancing technology on society and the psychology of Bruce as an older man embittered by his failing health.
In an interview with EW, Conroy stated that: “In this, I explore a lot of [the] dark corners of Bruce Wayne, but they’re different than the ones I explored on Batman Beyond.” The difference likely comes from the version of the character being one from Kingdom Come, as is strongly suggested by the first image of him that shows the top of the exo-skeleton he’s seen wearing in the story.
The Elseworlds miniseries, riddled with Biblical symbolism and apocalyptic foreboding, saw older versions of Golden Age superheroes regroup to save the world from a looming war between increasingly unrestrained factions of metahumans. Batman, one of the few heroes still currently active, patrols Gotham by controlling an army of automata and all but eliminating crime through fear.
He refuses Superman’s call to action, still resentful of Kal-El’s abandonment of his responsibilities a decade previously and seeing his idealism as having become outdated in a world growing ever more cynical. This also all but confirms that he’ll be a resident of the same Earth from which the Superman to be played by Brandon Routh originates, with the enmity between to two former allies a potential source of conflict.
Batman has always been envisioned as a dark character – the word even forming part of his most infamous moniker – that the high camp of the ‘60s TV series could never truly erase from the minds of fans. As such, it’ll be interesting to see how “Crisis On Infinite Earths” portrays that darkness in a new and refreshing way.