Kevin Conroy rarely got a chance to show the lighter side of his signature character. As the voice of Bruce Wayne on Batman: The Animated Series he was forever the dark and brooding hero, even if an episode was on the funnier side. That extended to his work on the Arkham series of video games as well as many of his other appearances. But while straight-up comedy wasn’t often in the cards, he never hesitated when the moment came.
That included a gem that arrived comparatively late in his career, teaming Batman up with another group of animated mystery solvers. Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? — the 2019 reboot of the venerable Hanna-Barbera cartoon — gave Conroy the chance to poke fun at The Dark Knight. As he did in every other turn as Batman, he nailed it, relishing the chance to turn the perennially serious Caped Crusader into Scooby’s straight man.
How Did Batman and Scooby-Doo Team Up?
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? actively emulated 1972’s The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which paired Mystery Inc. with a rotating series of guest stars. That included real celebrities like Don Knotts and Sonny and Cher, as well as fictional figures like The Addams Family. It even featured a Batman pairing: Season 1, Episode 2, “The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair” saw the gang helping Batman and Robin hunt down a counterfeiting ring. It proved so popular that the Dynamic Duo returned for a second outing in Season 1, Episode 15, “The Caped Crusader Caper.”
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? revitalized the Scooby-Doo Movies format, albeit with a much more knowing sense of humor. Season 1, Episode 13, “What a Night for a Dark Knight!” revived the Batman and Scooby team-up, this time with Conroy in the role that made him famous. It went a lot harder on Batman, or at least his dignity, than any of Conroy’s previous performances — which is what made the episode an instant classic.
“What a Night for a Dark Knight!” opened with Mystery, Inc. on their way to Wayne Manor after an invite from Daphne’s “sort of uncle” Alfred Pennyworth. They arrived to find the place trashed and Alfred missing, along with a very suspicious Batman who thought they might be behind it all. After several false starts, they all got on the same page and work together to stop what appeared to be the Man-Bat, but turned out to be The Joker (voiced by Conroy’s stalwart foil Mark Hamill).
Kevin Conroy’s Batman Played by Scooby-Doo Rules in “Guess Who?”
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? used its Batman characters for a Scooby-style mystery in which the monster was just a normal criminal looking for money. Accordingly, it was a much lighter take on the characters, with The Clown Prince of Crime more jolly than psychotic and Easter eggs lifted from the playful side of Batman’s history, including Adam West’s version of the Batmobile and the weird suits of armor from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie.
But it was Conroy who tied it all up in a bow. His Batman was not interested in a partnership — a key part of the humor since the Scooby Gang was every bit his equal. Velma successfully hacked his utility belt, Fred almost discovered him mid-costume change and Scooby did an inadvertently funny imitation of his scowling demeanor. He was constantly flummoxed as Mystery, Inc. kept pace with every clue, which really wrecked Batman’s brooding loner image.
Conroy’s vocal performance was as serious as ever, but slightly more pompous. His Batman seemed painfully aware that this was not his night, and grimly trudged through the mystery trying to ignore the pie on his face. As a little-seen side of The Caped Crusader, “What a Night for a Dark Knight!” worked brilliantly and Conroy made it better by finding new wrinkles in a character everyone thought they knew. It remains his most unique performance, and well worth a look for anyone who missed it.
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is now streaming on HBO Max.