Arkham Origins’ Batman, Roger Craig Smith, Talks to Us About Cold, Cold Heart, Gives Voice Tips to Vigilantes
Plus hear a truly frightening high-pitched Batman.
We had a chance to talk to Roger Craig Smith, voice of Batman in Batman: Arkham Origins, about the game’s DLC pack Cold, Cold Heart, filling an iconic role, and voice acting tips for masked vigilantes.
If you’re not familiar with the games, Origins is a prequel of sorts to the first two games in the series, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. A lot was changed for the third game, including the studio that made it, but arguably more important was the decision to swap out voice actor Kevin Conroy, who voiced Batman in Batman: The Animated Series and who is generally accepted as the one true voice of Batman, with another actor to give the character a younger voice.
Playing such an iconic character has to be daunting on its own, but more so when there are such big vocal chords to fill. That task fell to Smith, who has voiced other video game characters like Sonic the Hedgehog. If you’ve not yet played Origins, you’ll have to take my word for it that Smith fills the role beautifully– or you can watch this and hear for yourself:
Smith’s performance holds up entirely on its own as an excellent portrayal of Batman, but it’s impossible not to compare it Conroy’s — which isn’t something he minds. He told me,
The ultimate compliment I can receive is when people are like, “Hey, you do an excellent young Kevin Conroy.” Troy [Baker, who voices Joker in Origins] mentioned when we were doing some of the stuff at New York Comic Con and when we were out in London that there were points on the horizon of the performances that have been established that we’ve all come to know as Batman and the Joker, and knowing that, approaching these from a younger perspective and Origins standpoint, we couldn’t deviate too much from where those prior performances were established.
We had to approach it from an earlier timeframe and yet have it be believable that those characters would become those characters. So when people say, “Hey you’re a great young version of what Kevin Conroy established as Batman,” that’s the ultimate compliment.
With Cold, Cold Heart Smith got to figuratively step into the cape and cowl for a second time. I asked about the challenge of revisiting the character:
I guess the challenge for me personally on a day to day basis is I might go from doing narration for Say Yes to the Dress then next, you know, I’m in the car and heading down to go be Batman. I might go from Batman to Sonic the Hedgehog. I might go from Sonic the Hedgehog to Captain America, and from there might go do something for Regular Show or Clarence and then come back and do commercial work.
So your brain’s always kind of shifting into different gears. Thankfully Batman is kind of locked into a fairly tight box of parameters in which he kind of exists. It’s not too difficult to snap back into where he is because he’s kind of dark and brooding and relatively stoic.
The real challenge wasn’t so much stepping back into the character, or even trying to match a young Kevin Conroy. Really, just trying to talk like Batman is hard for anybody, as I’m sure a lot of people found out after trying to impersonate Christian Bale’s infamous Batman voice. Though Smith gave a very different portrayal, he had some nice things to say about Bale’s take.
I’ve always liked — I’ve never had an issue with the Christian Bale thing. I thought from a character standpoint it really made sense that that’s the way someone who wasn’t a professional voice actor, if Bruce Wayne is a real character, a billionaire playboy, he’s not out there necessarily changing his voice all the time, and someone who was in that vain may just try to go [italics here represent his Bale impression] into that regard because it’s hard to discern who’s talking.
It’s actually quite taxing on your vocal chords, though, so I asked Smith for some professional voice acting advice for any would-be masked vigilantes out there by getting his take on how he would disguise his voice if he were to take up crime fighting.
Oh man, then Batman would sound probably more like Sonic the Hedgehog. If you’re trying to really mask your voice. For me, I would probably stay away from my lower register and maybe Batman would be like this…
Alright, you know what? You’ve really got to hear Smith’s incredible high-pitched Batman for yourself. Here’s part of my recording of our interview.
Origins wasn’t quite as well received as the previous two Arkham games, but I just finished it this week. Despite a few frustrating bugs I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to playing through Cold, Cold Heart. Smith’s portrayal of Batman is a big part of that.
The real appeal of these games is the experience of being Batman and going out to save Gotham. Hearing Smith’s voice in your head as Batman makes getting into that experience very easy. I grew up with Kevin Conroy’s voice in my head when I read Batman comics, but if anyone’s going to replace that, it’s Roger Craig Smith.
Both Batman: Arkham Origins and the Cold, Cold Heart DLC are available now. You can learn more about Roger Craig Smith and his work on his website. I’d like to thank Roger for taking the time to talk to me, and to thank Jordyn Palos from Persona PR for setting it up.
(Image via Richard Wright Photography)