When Rocksteady started developing Batman: Arkham Asylumthe studio wanted to create the definitive Batman experience. Since many view Batman: TAS as the quintessential Batman show, Rocksteady hired as many people from the cartoon as they could. Paul Dini was brought on to write the game’s script, while Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin were hired to reprise their voice roles of Batman, The Joker, and Harley Quinn, respectively. Their efforts paid off. Batman: Arkham Asylum won numerous industry awards, including the 2010 BAFTA for Best Gameplay and Best Game, and became a must-play hit for comic book fans and gamers alike.
In 2011, Rocksteady released a sequel, Batman: Arkham City. While Arleen Sorkin didn’t return, Conroy, Hamill, and Dini did. As much as gamers loved Arkham Asylummany adored Arkham City even more. While the game won fewer awards, it received higher review scores and sold over 12 million copies compared to Arkham Asylum’s 9+ million. The Rocksteady and Batman relationship was soon deemed infallible by many, though that optimistic idea was quickly put to the test.
Rocksteady’s last Arkhamverse game was Batman: Arkham Knight: the worst-reviewed game of their trilogy (though not by much). Even if Arkham Knight didn’t quite measure up to its predecessors (largely due to all-time bad technical issues in its PC port), it was still an incredible game that left many dreaming of when Rocksteady would get another chance to return to the Arkhamverse. As such, the Arkhamverse-set Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League had some big shoes to fill even before news of Conroy’s death broke. Now, it carries even more expectations.
Simply put, Suicide Squad is about as unusual of a final Batman performance for Conroy as you could imagine given that Batman is actually only one of the game’s many antagonists. Sure, he’s one of the game’s most famous antagonists, but the subtitle is “Kill the Justice League,” which means gamers will seemingly have to fight the entire Justice League. Given the sheer number of potential villains in the game, it’s likely Rocksteady had to reduce everyone’s spoken lines in order to offer equal attention.
Granted, Conroy might have more lines than the other Justice League members, but he obviously isn’t playing the main character anymore. Best case scenario, Conroy voiced a paltry amount of dialog compared to his roles in the Batman: Arkham games but still enjoys a relatively sizeable role where every one of his lines is pure gold. Even then, some will naturally be disappointed by his comparatively limited appearance. Worst case scenario…well, we know from the latest Suicide Squad trailer that this game will not be afraid to kill off Justice League members and treat them as comedy fodder when needed. As such, there’s a chance the Batman dialogue we heard in that trailer is about as much as we’ll get before Batman is defeated.
Another potential issue with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is that there’s no guarantee Suicide Squad will measure up to the Batman: Arkham games. Before Arkham AsylumRocksteady only had one game to its name: Urban Chaos: Riot Response. If you never heard of it, that’s because the game received fairly average reviews. How Rocksteady went from developing a forgotten FPS to one of the most important licensed franchises of all time is nothing short of a miracle. Studios shifting genres is always a gamble. If for some reason Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League just doesn’t live up to standards from a mechanical or narrative perspective (or worse, both), Conroy’s performance may be diminished by mere association. Most fans will probably be reasonable when separating the two, but some of the more passionate negative reactions to the still-excellent Arkham Knight showed how high Arkhamverse expectations tend to be.