Voices.com co-founder Stephanie Ciccarelli has an interesting and well-researched article on Batman’s Voice: An Exploration of Bruce Wayne’s Vocal Alter-Ego.
The article covers Batman performances by Adam West, Kevin Conroy, Diedrich Bader, Christian Bale, and I was especially pleased to see her mention Michael Dobson‘s outstanding multi-character performance in the Batman: Black and White motion comics series which is available for download on iTunes.
However, the geek in me can’t help but point out the article’s omissions of other noteworthy Batman performances:
– Alan Soule in Challenge of the Super Friends: An heroic and friendly voice — a great casting choice for this type of lighthearted, non-violent kids’ superhero adventure show.
– Rino Romano in The Batman: Rino’s voice was ideal for this anime-influenced take on The Dark Knight — just the right age, sound, and performance for how this stylized, re-imagining of Batman was portrayed.
– Will Friedle in Batman Beyond: Superb casting for a teen angsty version of a future Batman. And Friedle’s performance was particularly outstanding in his final face-off with Joker in the direct-to-DVD feature, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
– Jeremy Sisto in Justice League: The New Frontier: A creepy, dark, and mysterious performance and fitting for Batman’s characterization in this production.
– Michael Ironside in The New Adventures of Batman episode, “Legends of The Dark Knight”: Ironside had a great (although brief) turn as the voice of Frank Miller-style Batman that was gritty, dark and hardcore.
– Roddy McDowall in Batman: The Novelization: No, seriously! McDowell is absolutely superb as the narrator of this audiobook adaptation of the 1989 novelization (written by Craig Shaw Gardner) of Tim Burton’s Batman blockbuster film. And McDowell performs the entire cast of characters as well. I’m so sorry I can’t link you to any audio of this recording. If you can find a used copy for cheap via Amazon or some other retailer, it’s well worth a listen for any Batman fan or audiobook aficionado.
And for the sake of completion, if you’d like to compare the vocal performances of each of the animated Batmans (or is that “Batmen”?), voice actor fansite Behind The Voice Actors offers a complete audio compilation for them.
But for me, Kevin Conroy will always be the definitive voice of Batman and one of the best overall performances for Batman in any production to date, and equally for Bruce Wayne no matter what age he plays him. And his singing performances as Batman are not to be missed:
– Conroy sings “Am I Blue” from ‘Justice League: This Little Piggy’:
– Conroy sings in “Batman: The Musical” from ‘Batman Beyond: Out of the Past’:
Update: 1.14.2010 — On 12.22.2009, Wired’s Underwire Blog presented a video retrospective and feature article on “the Best Batman of All Time,” listing their preferences in descending order. And they picked Kevin Conroy as their number one choice:
It is our humble opinion that this voiceover legend is the finest Batman on record. His dynamic range has both darkened Batman and lightened up Bruce Wayne, from the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s to 2008’s sublime Batman: Gotham Knight and 2009’s Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He’s certainly put in more time than any other Batman actor. Until someone comes and snatches it from him, Conroy owns Wayne Manor and the Batcave. Everyone else is merely visiting.
Then they opened a poll to their readers.
While I would agree that Bale has to a degree characterized the best Batman on-camera [Except what’s up with that voice? Sounds like he drank a glass of salt between takes. – CC], Conroy has performed the definitive Batman for nearly 20 years. I encourage everyone reading this to vote to help overtake Bale and restore Conroy in the top spot. (You can vote either way on each individual in the poll, by the way.)
It’s worth noting that Bale has received (to date) twice as many negative votes as Conroy, and that George Clooney’s performance as Batman has both the lowest number of positive votes and the highest number of negative ones.
On a related note, Wired also conducted an interview August 2009 with Conroy discussing the 2009 video game “Arkham Asylum.”