Andrea Romano’s comment on being called in to cast for Batman: The Animated Series was, “Can we get Kevin Conroy?” Which is even more interesting given that he hadn’t done any voicework before that point and honestly wasn’t hugely famous. He was second-billed on a show called Rachel Gunn, R.N., that I’ve never heard of that also featured Megan Mullally? He did 78 episodes of Search for Tomorrow, which lasted for literally decades, it seems, and which I don’t remember ever having heard of before? He played Ted Kennedy on a miniseries? But thanks to Andrea Romano, he is, was, and ever shall be Batman.
There was life before he was Batman. He was roommates at Julliard with Robin Williams and Frances Conroy (no relation). Interestingly, he couldn’t afford to rent the room with Christopher Reeve, who he already knew. As established, he did work on TV and in movies, mostly stuff you haven’t heard of. And a lot of soap operas, it seems. However it happened, you know, Andrea Romano did hear of him, and when he came in to read, she and Bruce Timm felt an enormous sense of relief.
Even if he didn’t. Because he came in to audition for Bullock. Because he thought being Batman would be boring. They had to talk him into auditioning for Batman. Sure, Bullock is a relatively minor character who to my recollection doesn’t appear on every episode, but that legitimately doesn’t mean Batman would be better. And there’s a gruffness to Bullock that you didn’t really get from certain versions of Batman and indeed any other previous animated Batman. Certainly no Bullock on Superfriends, you know?
Conroy’s Batman is, however, simply astounding. Okay, so there are people who aren’t on the “best Batman ever” train, and they have reasons for their preferences. You may prefer the goofiness of a West or the ferocity of a Bale. You may, um, think Kilmer’s just pretty easy on the eyes. That’s fine; you’ve got your choices. Still, Conroy’s Batman is so iconic, so powerful, that he’s been Batman for literally my entire adult life. He started playing Batman in 1992, my sophomore year in high school. In 2019, he appeared on Batwoman in live action as Bruce Wayne. You can probably count on one hand the number of years in that time that he didn’t voice Batman in a new project.
Honestly? I kind of wish they’d given him Bullock, too. I think he could’ve done something distinct enough. There’s an episode where he alternates between Bruce Wayne, Batman, Thomas Wayne, and an evil version of Batman, and he recorded them all simultaneously. He voiced Joe Chill on an episode of Justice League. He voiced Thomas Grayson on an episode of The Batman. And the best story I know about him is that he worked in relief kitchens for first responders in the days after 9/11, which many people first learned when they heard a voice from the kitchen shouting, “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!”