'Crisis on Infinite Earths': Kevin Conroy embodies a tragic Batman who's lost his spine, in more ways than one
Kevin Conroy has been embodying the Batman for decades. In his first live-action appearance as the character, he embodies Bruce Wayne's worst nightmare.
Spoiler alert for 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Part 2
For a generation of fans, Kevin Conroy is Bruce Wayne. The voice of Batman in the Bruce Timm-led animated series, and countless other projects since, Conroy has defined the sound of Batman’s voice for decades. ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ takes his legacy a step further, having him embody a future version of Bruce Wayne, playing the character in a live action series for the first time. The Bruce he plays, however, is not the Paragon of Courage that the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) seemed to imply he would be.
The Batman of Earth-99 lives in a dark future, one brought on by himself. At some point in his past, this Bruce snapped. He broke his own code against killing, a decision that led him to kill again, and again, until Batman abandoned his superheroic principles completely, and began his own reign of terror. He’s a Batman who’s been broken more completely than Bane ever managed to do. A Batman who is every Gotham hero’s worst nightmare come to life — the darkness that the Batfamily has to bear, brought to the surface.
Kevin Conroy is no stranger to playing dark, even evil versions of himself, but the Batman of Earth-99 is possibly the darkest version he’s done yet. This Earth’s Bruce Wayne even went after Superman, for no reason other than paranoia more suited to Lex Luthor than Bruce. It was Superman who injured Bruce enough to force Bruce to walk around in a metal suit (a reference to the Bruce Wayne of the Kingdom Come comic) that supports his broken spine. He’s a nightmare version of who Kate (Ruby Rose) could become if she ever loses hope.
Kate cares for, and looks up to the Bruce Wayne of her world. To see a version of him go this dark shakes her. She’s forced to fight him when he attempts to kill Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), and Bruce is in such bad shape that a single kick lands him against a faulty machine, the electric discharge from which kills him. His last words to Kate sum up his philosophy completely: “There is no hope.”
It’s certainly not the Batman that fans were expecting to see, but he represents a real turning point for Batwoman. She has seen, more than ever, how important it is for her to keep to her code, and never give up. It’s obviously had a profound effect on her, as seeing her beloved cousin take so dark a turn is what she needed for her resolve to make her the Multiverse’s Paragon of Courage.
Family trauma is apparently an inescapable part of taking up the mantle of the Bat. Even though she’s traveled across Earths, and across time, it’s not something Kate Kane can escape either. Still haunted by her past, Kate now also bears the weight of the future — and she’s come out all the stronger for it. She appears to have picked up some of her cousin’s paranoia, however, as she’s taken his piece kryptonite...just in case.
The next episode of ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ airs on December 10 on The CW.