When it comes to superheroes, no character has received more thorough exploration than The Dark Knight. Batman has become one of the most reliable sources for box office gold over the years, and each actor to play him has brought something wholly new and unique. However, true Bat-Fans know that there’s one actor who stands above the rest: Kevin Conroy. The legendary voice actor has a method to his portrayal of The Bat, and it’s all about restraint — which is something he thinks Ben Affleck should take note of when he once again dons the cape and cowl in Justice League. He said:
In Justice League, there are often episodes where I’ll have four or five lines, where in Batman: The Animated Series I was used to having the entire script to create a portrait of the character. When you only have a few lines it’s much more difficult. The temptation is to over-act because you feel such an obligation to completely flesh out the character in just the two or three lines you have, and you have to resist that temptation and trust the fact that you know the character so well. That if you just inhabit him, and speak truthfully, it will resonate with the audience. But it is harder to do because the temptation is push it when you’re sharing the stage with lots of other actors.
It’s simple advice, but it’s effective nonetheless. While speaking with IGN to promote the recent release of Batman: The Killing Joke, Kevin Conroy explained the importance of restraint in playing Batman properly. When a character becomes part of an ensemble there’s a certain impulse to make the most of the lines you’re given, but Conroy insists that one should avoid such a compulsion. Don’t try to steal the stage; simply tap into the spirit of the character. In true Batman fashion, it’s all about combining subtlety with theatricality.
Although they exist within the same universe, the Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and the Batman from the animated Justice League often felt incredibly distinct from one another. In Batman: TAS, Kevin Conroy had far more room to emote and give audiences insight into the mentality of his version of The Dark Knight. However, when he became part of a team in Justice League (and Justice League Unlimited), Conroy used the diminished screen time to emphasize the terse nature of the character. He never stole a scene by overacting, and that made his version of Batman feel like the stoic badass of few words that we all know and love.
Just check out this compilation of awesome Batman moments from Justice League below to get a better sense of what Kevin Conroy is talking about:
Ultimately, it already seems like Ben Affleck has taken this sort of advice to heart. His work in Batman V Superman, and (perhaps more importantly) his small role in Suicide Squad showed that he has no trouble sharing the screen. Affleck’s Batman is intense and brooding, but he very firmly remains a man of few words who commands the screen with little more than a 1,000-yard stare. In short: he makes fans of Kevin Conroy’s work very proud.
It looks like Affleck is on the right track, but we will know for certain once Justice League hits theaters on November 17, 2017. We will bring you more details as they become available to us.