It's the question every Batman fan asks when as new game or movie is announced: will Kevin Conroy be providing the dark knight's voice? Sadly, with Batman: Arkham Origins, we now have the answer; and it's one that fans won't want to hear.
In keeping with the prequel nature of Origins, the developers at Warner Bros. Montreal have apparently decided not to go with Conroy's husky vocals, in favor of a younger, less experienced and battle-hardened Bruce Wayne.
The report isn't coming from an official Warner Bros. announcement or press release, but as one tidbit offered in advance of South African gaming magazine NAG's May issue (via Arkhamverse). There's no elaboration from the publisher or developers beyond the age difference, or word on what voice actor will be replacing him just yet. All we know is Origins will now differ from both Arkham Asylum and City in yet another way.
Regardless of the reasons for the decision, the hardcore fan base won't be pleased (until his replacement is announced or detailed, that is). After all, for an entire generation, Kevin Conroy simply is Batman. Exactly what this means for Conroy's involvement in Rocksteady's Batman titles - their rumored Silver Age adventure, for instance - is a mystery.
That game will also be a prequel, so it's possible one actor could be turned to for both younger versions. It's possible Rocksteady's Silver Age game will be completely divorced from Arkham, though, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.
We should point out that of all the reasons to turn to a different voice actor, the one rumored for Origins is probably the easiest to accept. Fan backlash has recently occurred due to the Thief 'reboot' casting a new lead, and Hideo Kojima's decision to not bring David Hayter back for Metal Gear Solid 5, but the circumstances for Conroy's absence seem more reasonable.
We'd still prefer to hear Conroy's voice come out from under the cowl in each and every appearance of the Bat, but the story at hand is a different one. The developers at Warner Bros. have turned to the early days of Bruce Wayne's crime-fighting career, before he grew to become, as the magazine cover puts it, "a legend."
If Origins saw Batman having his first run-ins with Deathstroke, Lady Shiva, and other comic book assassins, and spouting dialogue with the same chilling, confident and unwavering voice, that doesn't really speak to the character's inexperience.
We'll choose to pick our fights wisely and say that a final verdict will have to wait, but another actor providing a less iconic voice - that could become that of Kevin Conroy - is something we'd be interested in. Tim Daly is giving up the job of voicing Superman to his son Sam in DC's Flashpoint Paradox, so who says change can't be poetic?
We look forward to hearing your reactions to the news, be they positive or negative. Would you be on board with a new actor trying their hand at the dark knight? What if Kevin Conroy publicly approved of the idea?
Batman: Arkham Origins will be available on Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC October 25, 2013.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate will be available on Vita and 3DS October 25, 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.