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FISCHER: Time marches on, even for Batman

By Travis Fischer,

At long last, we’re finally getting a look at “Batman: The Caped Crusader.”

Once thought to be at risk of being fated for the chopping block in the wake of the Warner Bros/Discovery merger, the new animated series has found a home on Amazon Prime.

Produced by Bruce Timm, co-creator of the 90’s “Batman: The Animated Series,” the new show invokes a lot of what made his original adaptation such a landmark hit. Recently released trailers show off the new series’ visual style, tone, and, of course, our first taste of the voice cast. Specifically, Hamish Linklater as Batman.

Linklater’s voice has a particularly large cape and cowl to fill.

FISCHER: Time marches on, even for Batman
Travis Fischer

“Batman: Caped Crusader,” while invoking many aspects of “Batman: The Animated Series,” also has the sad distinction of being the first animated Batman series to be produced since the passing of voice actor Kevin Conroy in 2022.

Conroy was cast as Batman’s voice actor in 1992, launching an uninterrupted 14-year run with the character across the more than a half-dozen spin-offs and sequel shows that made up the DC Animated Universe.

By the time the DCAU ended, Conroy’s voice had become synonymous with the character for a generation, succeeding Adam West as the definitive Batman in the public conscious. In spite of a handful of “retirements,” he continued to voice Batman in animated movies, video games, and even once in live-action on the CW’s television adaptations, right up until his untimely death due to cancer.

His latest, and final, performance will be released in a couple weeks with the concluding entry of “Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths” animated movie trilogy.

It will be strange, knowing that there will never be any more of Conroy’s Batman ever again.

Which is not to say that audiences haven’t been gradually prepared for this inevitability.

Once upon a time, specifically 2004, it was nearly unthinkable to cast anybody but Kevin Conroy as Batman. “The Batman,” featuring Rino Romano, was the first non-DCAU animated series to feature the character and probably never got the fair shot with audiences it deserved because it ran alongside Conroy’s portrayal in “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited.”

Since then, several other animated series have come and gone and a score of actors have taken their shot at the role. Currently, Jensen Ackles of “Supernatural” fame is Warner Bros.’ most regular choice for the part, voicing Batman in several animated movies since 2021.

However, it’s unlikely Ackles, Linklater, or anybody else will become as deeply associated with the character for a long time to come.

For 30 years there has been Kevin Conroy and then everybody else. To say that he raised the bar on voicing Batman would be inaccurate. He is the bar. He is the standard that all other actors voicing the character are measured by.

For now.

We like to think that the way things are are the way things will always be, but the clock never stops ticking and the inconceivable eventually becomes the inevitable.

There will never be another Conroy performance of Batman and in the all-too-near future his 30-year career will become “the past” for a new generation that will have its own definitive voice for the caped crusader.

It’s sad, but it’s also nice to think that somewhere out there is the next Kevin Conroy and they don’t even know it yet.

— Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and probably isn’t going to be the next definitive voice actor for Batman, but let’s not rule anything out…

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