Let that headline sink in a little because we are losing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill within months of each other from the DC Animated Universe (DCAU). This is saddening, but understandable, news in the geek world–Batman or not, DC or not, comics or not.
That was the indelible impression by both of those men in the lives of those who appreciated their individual gifts and collective presentation as impeccable voice actors.
Late last year, the world mourned the loss of Conroy. At the age of 66, he left us as the greatest Batman/Bruce Wayne in the history of DC. The news was crushing for family and fans alike, but for Mark Hamill, it was so much different. For Hamill, Conroy was both a friend whom he loved and a talent he praised.
And today, Empire magazine shares that both character actors have spoken their last word in Gotham.
Mark Hamill Hanging Up His Clown Shoes
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill shared a kindred relationship that spanned decades, a bond that surpassed what brought them together. And now, Hamill’s peer, friend, and brother is tragically gone. Conroy’s legacy lives forever in rewatches of Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans GO!, and Batman: The Brave and The Bold.
As Conroy’s Batman exudes bravado and enigmatic leadership in each of those performances, Hamill’s psychosis of Joker is cackling in the background and falling apart at the seams. It was magical listening to them feed each other genius lines and contagious momentum. The mutual respect the two voice actors had for each other was palpable, which is why the DCAU was so dominant for years.
Go to any comic franchise–live action or animated–and try to find a dynamic duo with better chemistry, poise, and skill than Kevin Conroy’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s Joker. But all good things must end, which brings us to Mark Hamill being interviewed in Empire.
“[DCAU] would call and say, ‘They want you to do the Joker,’ and my only questions was, ‘Is Kevin Batman?’ If they said yes, I would say, ‘I’m in.’ We were like partners. We were like Laurel and Hardy. Without Kevin there, there doesn’t seem to be a Batman for me.'”
Mark Hamill, Empire magazine (2023), via ScreenRant
This is a man who not only is grieving the loss of his friend, but who also sees writing on the wall. Take the sequel trilogy of Star Wars. He knew the only way to close that door was finality, which we saw when Luke gave up the Force ghost. Without one (Sith), there isn’t the other (Jedi). It’s an ionic compound that relies because of mutual existence.
That’s Mark Hamill’s Joker to Kevin Conroy’s Batman. Always together.
Heath Ledger was Right
Go ahead. Read that. You know the scene in The Dark Knight. The Joker is hanging by his last lifeline and then he turns into Socrates or even Nostradamus. That sentence encapsulated what we have known all along — Batman and Joker need each other.
In our Kevin Conroy Memoriam, we quoted Hamill’s heartfelt message to his friend:
Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him —his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.
And now that he won’t speak with him in a studio as friends, or on a screen as foes, there’s no need to force it. They had a good run–the best, actually. On behalf of our subs, followers, fellow nerds, and cinephiles, we understand and thank Mark Hamill for his self-awareness and loyalty to his brother.
They were destined to this forever. When Conroy’s forever ended suddenly, Hamill’s needed to fade as well. He knew it. If we’re honest, we knew it. And now, their destiny together is the legacy they each left behind.
Since he saw ‘Dune’ in the $1 movie theater as a kid, this guy has been a lover of geek culture. It wasn’t until he became a professional copywriter, ghostwriter, and speechwriter that he began to write about it (a lot).
From the gravitas of the Sith, the genius of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or the gluttony of today’s comic fan, SPW digs intelligent debate about entertainment. He’s also addicted to listicles, storytelling, useless trivia, and the Oxford comma. And, he prefers his puns intended.