The character of Batman has become as evergreen as apple pie in American culture. With the recent release of the Matt Reeves directed The Batman starring Robert Pattinson currently tearing up the box office, many people have Batman on the brain. This year will continue to explore the DC hero, with both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck set to reprise their roles as Bruce Wayne / Batman in The Flash movie being released this fall. Fans of the Arkham video game series will also finally be able to explore the upcoming spin-off Arkham Knights set for a late 2022 release.
Putting the live-action movies and video games aside, Batman has lived quite a life in the animated world. In the last decade alone, and accounting for spin-offs and guest appearances, over 40 animated Batman films have been released. The two recently released animated direct-to-video films Batman: The Long Halloween Parts One and Two were both met with moderate success and acclaim. In these last two iterations, Jensen Ackles voiced the Caped Crusader.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Based on the hugely popular comic series from 1996 to 1997 brought to life by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, Batman: The Long Halloween has been a fan favorite. Being a huge devotee of the dark superhero, Ackles shined in his take on the character. While there were lukewarm responses to another IP adaptation, The Killing Jokethe fans received The Long Halloween enthusiastically. It was a faithful and earnest adaptation, topped off by an incredible lead performance by Ackles. His gravelly voice as the Dark Knight punctuated with authority, yet he maintained a suave silkiness when he provided dialogue for alter-ego Bruce Wayne. He was joined in his cast by the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman, Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, and Troy Baker as the Joker.
His dedication to the part may have been why DC has engaged with Ackles in developing an upcoming project. It is unknown whether it will be a Batman property. The project is very much in its infancy still. Whether it will be live-action or animated was also not clarified. But one thing is for sure, Ackles is the right voice going forward for future animated Batman adventures.
Stands Out in the Crowd
There has been no shortage of great talented actors who have voiced Batman in the world of animation. The most iconic of these voices have been Kevin Conroy, who has voiced the character since the animated series from the 1990s all the way into this century in the Arkham video games. Conroy also voiced the character in one of the most beloved Batman animated films, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. That film and The Dark Knight Returns, which featured Robocop actor Peter Weller as the eponymous hero, set the benchmark for all great animated Batman movie adventures. Bruce Greenwood has been another contributor to Batman’s voice. Jensen Ackles even appeared alongside Greenwood in Batman: Under the Red Hood, where Ackles voiced Jason Todd / Red Hood. The other biggest name is DCAU’s primary Batman, Jason O’Mara. But to Ackles’ credit, he truly sounds like he was made to voice this part.
Ackles’ tone and delivery are gripping and violent. While it is not perfect either, his voice has made a huge splash in its debut. Ackles, often appearing on-screen with his good looks and fit physique, is able to let the quality shine through. But being a Batman fan and taking on the role was a lifetime dream for Ackles. There is a complexity and duality that exists within this iconic character. Now, after having dipped his toes in, Ackles has shown he has the chops to make the World’s Greatest Detective his own. The level of nuance and depth is a trait that every voice actor before Ackles had to find on their own. Voicing Batman is not a gig for the casual and careless.
Ackles is best known for his role as Dean Winchester on the top-rated CW television series, Supernatural. One could say that after 15 years of fighting off demons, angels, and everything in between, Ackles is no stranger to going to dark places with his characters. Ackles is also currently developing a Ssupernatural spin-off / prequel series called The Winchesters. This project will find more voice work for Ackles as he narrates the show as his character Dean Winchester.
In the near future, Ackles will appear in season 3 of The Boys as the off-beat character Soldier Boy. This role finds Ackles teaming up once again with Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. The Boys will be streamed on Amazon Prime and will be released this summer on Friday, June 3. His other current film project, Rustis on definite hiatus following the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins this past October.
Benedict Cumberbatch defended The Power of the Dog after Sam Elliott’s criticism of the film’s themes and its non-American director.
About The Author