Typing this up is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.
I usually don’t do these sorts of things but I just needed to get everything off my chest. This is me just writing everything out so it’s not going to be cohesive but honestly, I don’t really care. Kevin Conroy’s passing today was shocking. The last time a celebrity death hit me this hard was maybe Kobe Bryant or Chadwick Boseman. Even then, I always had a stronger connection to Conroy. As soon as I saw the news, I dropped my phone and started breaking down in tears uncontrollably.
One of my childhood heroes was gone.
It’s no secret I am a massive superhero fanboy and I’ve said time and time again that Batman: The Animated Series is a personal favourite of mine. Growing up, it was always on in my household. I would wake up at 6AM to watch the early morning re-runs of the series, I had posters of his Batman in my room and the only reason I played the Arkham games in the first place was because I heard he was returning. Whenever I read a Batman comic, I can’t help but hear Conroy’s voice in my head. When people would ask me who I wanted to interview the most, Kevin Conroy was always in my top 3. Him and Tobey Maguire are the main reason I love superheroes as much as I do today. They were my idols and defined my childhood.
However, I always felt that Batman was there for me, especially during the sadder times in my life. Batman was a loner who wanted to protect his city. I was a bit of an introverted kid growing up and whenever I felt sad, I would always turn on Batman: The Animated Series and it always made me feel better. I felt connected to Batman and Conroy as well. I did my research on him as I got older and learned more about him as a person. Everyone who worked with him loved him and he was always excited to meet all the fans at conventions. He loved playing Batman and people loved him. I don’t think he realized the impact he had on me and millions of others.
Not only that, but we have Kevin Conroy to thank for giving us the two different voices for Bruce Wayne and Batman. That was his idea and he set a precedent that every actor, whether it was live action or a voice role, would attempt to emulate. However, nobody ever came close to Conroy. He revolutionized how the character was portrayed for decades to come.
Kevin Conroy was also a very important figure for the LGBTQ community. He is one of the first, if not the first, openly gay actor to portray a major superhero. This was something unheard of at the time. Conroy wrote a story for DC Comics in 2022 called Finding Batman, which is about his struggles as an openly gay actor in the 80’s and early 90’s. It talks about how he struggled to find a role then he found Batman. It’s a beautifully touching story that I think everyone should check out.
Conroy always wanted to use his power as Batman to give back to others. There’s countless stories about how he would visit sick children in the hospitals that wanted to meet their hero, send video messages to lifelong fans in their time of need. Even just a few weeks ago, he was doing Zoom calls for interviews and with fans. However, the story of how he said his most iconic Batman line to cheer up cooks and first responders during the 9/11 relief efforts (where he willingly showed up to help out) touched me the most. Many of those people were fans of the show growing up and it brought them so much joy to hear Conroy say the line in person. He didn’t care about the fame, he just wanted to make others happy.
I am vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman!Kevin Conroy
For the past year and a half or so, I’ve been hoping and trying to find a way to talk to Kevin Conroy. It hurts me that I will never be able to talk to Kevin and tell him about the massive impact he had on my life. Without him, I would not love Batman, or any superheroes for that matter, as much as I do today and there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have started up BSL or OTN. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to watch Batman: The Animated Series again without breaking down in tears. Even though I never knew him personally, it feels like I lost a member of my family. Thank you so much for being a part of my childhood and shaping me into who I am today. I’m so grateful that we have countless hours of your work to treasure. You are my Batman and will always be.