After decades as the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy got his shot at playing the part in live-action. That came on CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths where he embodied a more broken-down, unhinged Bruce Wayne than expected. Many were stunned.
Conroy opened up about fan reaction to his Crisis appearance on Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum. “The fans were not happy about that,” he said. “They didn’t like seeing that version of Bruce Wayne.”
But he adds the experience was fun for him. “But for me it was fun, it was a lot of fun to sort of stretch my acting chops a little bit,” Conroy said.
He also adds the process was abrupt and the notice was short. They didn’t tell him at first what Batman he’d play. “They didn’t tell me anything about the Batman,” he said. “They just said he was the Batman in the future, an old Bruce Wayne.”
He recalled his conversation with the studio: “I said, ‘You mean like in Batman Beyond old Bruce Wayne?’ They said, ‘No, he’s not 80. But he’s older and he’s in bad shape.’”
Conroy then added the scripts were under lock and key. “They’re so guarded with their scripts, the studios, they don’t give them out,” he said. “So they didn’t give me anything.”
Interestingly, Conroy tells Michael Rosenbaum this. The Smallville actor, visiting his ailing grandfather at the time, received an 11th-hour offer from the same people to reprise Lex Luthor. He turned it down.
Conroy wrapped up his thought saying he was happy to be in front of the camera again. “I got the script basically when I was about to get on a plane to fly to Vancouver to do the show, I hadn’t seen anything,” he recalled. “I said yes because I was so excited to do something on camera again [after] 25 years.”
Conroy turned out to be playing a combo of “Kingdom Come” Bruce Wayne and a Dark Knight Rises Bruce who succeeded in killing Superman. He then shared what it was like to wear the exoskeleton and work with Ruby Rose.
“I was in this suit of armor that was an external spine because his back had been broken by Superman,” he said. “And I didn’t know that was going to happen.”
Everything, including the darkness, took him by surprise. “I didn’t know I was going to try and kill Supergirl,” Conroy continued. “He was dark. He was dark.”
“The producer was great, the cast, Ruby Rose, everybody was fantastic, wonderful to work with,” he concluded. “But they do like a movie a week. It’s a massive undertaking.”
It was worth it to see Conroy in live-action as Bruce Wayne for once. Fans may have reacted negatively to his dark turn, but I think they were more upset by him being emasculated and killed off for Batwoman to become the Paragon of Courage.
And that twist, exalting Kate Kane in the mantle of Gotham’s guardian, was undone by Ruby Rose leaving the show – which suffers in the ratings in the first place – and a new character being cast. So it was really for nothing.
Kevin Conroy carries on his life’s work as Batman, narrating the new comics continuing the saga of Batman: The Animated Series.
Batwoman returns in January with a clean slate and Javicia Leslie now in the lead of Ryan Wilder who steals, then inherits, the Batsuit.