While there have been countless interpretations of the character of Batman, one could argue that there is one man who can be most closely be described as the “definitive” Batman — at least on a vocal level. I’m talking about the master himself, Kevin Conroy, who takes the cake as the actor who has played Batman more than anyone else, and for a longer timespan, which is going on 24 years at this point.
Given how long Conroy has had to get into the Bruce Wayne/Batman psyche, it’s probably worth it to at least listen to the man when he expresses his opinions on different iterations of the character. One could argue that he knows this character better than anyone else on the planet.
Conroy began with some serious praise on both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck in how they played the Caped Crusader:
“And there have been so many actors that have been wonderful. I liked Michael Keaton and I like what Ben Affleck is doing with it now. But they couldnâ€™t be more different. Itâ€™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. Itâ€™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.”
Earlier this year, we got to see Ben Affleck’s take on the Batman. While his performance specifically was largely praised by fans and critics, some hardcore enthusiasts were rubbed the wrong way by how casually he took the lives of his enemies. In fact, he killed so many, that the folks over at the MR. SUNDAY MOVIES YouTube Channel made a kill count video. Turns out the magic number was 21 kills from the Bat.
So what does Conroy think about that fact? Well, he’s not too hot on it.
“Personally I love the fact that Batman â€“ in the stories Iâ€™ve done, and the way heâ€™s been rendered by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, the people Iâ€™ve worked with most closely â€“ he never kills anybody. He doesnâ€™t cross that line. Batman is not a killer.
“He puts them into Arkham Asylum, which is what is so brilliant about the ARKHAM games â€“ someone realised, ‘my god, all these incredible villains are all in the same institution â€“ letâ€™s get a video game in there’. Itâ€™s a brilliant idea. But the fact that Batman never kills anyone â€“ I loved that fact.
“In the most recent live action movie, that seems to have been a line that was crossed and itâ€™s not one Iâ€™m particularly comfortable with.”
While I’m sure many share his opinions, I’ve always viewed most superhero characters as malleable entities. Yes, they often have backbone key traits — and with Batman, his rule not to kill is often one of them — but these key traits don’t always make the cut. There have been a few cases where Batman has killed in the comics, and while I’m not saying he should kill in any situation, given the right setup for the character, a killing Batman isn’t something I’d object to. And I didn’t.
In BATMAN v SUPERMAN, it was very clear that we were dealing with a jaded, world-weary Batman looking to get the job done by any means necessary. In many ways, the current character arc he’s undergoing in the DC Extended Universe seems to be heading in the direction of him reclaiming his old moral high ground.
But we’ll see if that ends up being the case.
What do you think of Kevin Conroy’s comments? Is he right? Should Batman never kill? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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