IGN recently released the exclusive trailer to the upcoming entry into the DC animated movie universe, and like most of the good DC animated movies, this one is centered around one of the most iconic Batman stories ever told: Death in the Family. You can view the trailer yourself below. But before you do, you’re going to notice something different about this trailer and its content. Unlike previous versions of DC animated movies, this one is doing something different, and that is that instead of just watching the movie, you are going to be in control of the movie. For the first time in DC animated movie history, Death in the Family is going to do the same thing that the comic storyline did in 1988, and that allows you to control what happens.
A quick bit of Batman history. During the late 1980’s it was decided that Dick Grayson, the original Robin, was going to move on from the Batman comic books and become his own solo series under the title of Nightwing, leading to the introduction of him as the leader of the Teen Titans (Tales of the Teen Titans #44, published 1984). This left a gap in the dynamic duo as people wanted more of Batman and Robin, not just Batman solo. So in Batman #357 (published in 1983), we got the introduction of the second Robin, Jason Todd, a troubled kid who had the balls to try and steal the tires off the Batmobile! Batman noticed that the kid had a good skill at fighting, but was on the edge of darkness, so Todd was trained by Batman to be his new partner. However, his introduction and stories did not sit well with the fans of the comics, and DC editor Dennis O’Neil took notice and planned something that was unheard of in comics at the time: O’Neil would let the fans decide the fate of Jason Todd in a storyline called “A Death in the Family“.
A Death in the Family was a pretty by-the-numbers story about Batman and Robin splitting as a duo, with Robin going off into the Middle East in search of his birth mother, and Batman taking off to case down a recently escaped Joker who has gotten his hands on a nuclear bomb somewhere in Lebanon, leading to the two reuniting to solve both storylines. Robin finds out his birth mother, but in the process, gets captured by the Joker, who assaults and tortures Jason for days with a crowbar. Batman finds out Robin’s location in a warehouse but is not in time to stop Joker from blowing up the warehouse with a bomb, leaving Robin dead and buried inside. The decision for Jason to die was voted on by the readers… But anyone who has seen DC’s 2010 animated movie “Under the Red Hood“, the comic story arc by the same name, or played Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight video game, knows what happens with Jason after these events.
And that is where DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family plays into things. Not only do you have the choice that readers did back in 1988, but there are more choices to be made after that to alter the story. So if you want to play things out in the style that has been done, you can. Jason dies and eventually returns as Red Hood, or you can choose to go down the path where Jason lives and becomes Red Robin or something, or Robin cheats death and who knows what happens. That’s the beauty of this DC interactive first. YOU get to decide what happens in one of the best Batman storylines ever written.
As DC is trying to make sure that everything doesn’t seem too out of place, DC has brought back several voice actors from 2010’s Under the Red Hood, including Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Vincent Martella as Jason Todd, and John DiMaggio as Joker. The cast also includes Zehra Fazal (Young Justice) as Talia al Ghul and Gary Cole (Veep) as both Two-Face and Commissioner Gordon. Similar to 2010’s Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Batman: Death in the Family will include several other DC animated shorts to make up for its shorter runtime. Also included in this set are the previously released Sgt. Rock, Death, Adam Strange, and The Phantom Stranger short films.
2020 has been a great year in terms of new animated DC movies. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has already released Superman: Red Son (One of my personal absolute favorite Superman stories and animated adaptations) and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (Constantine fans rejoice!). DC’s next animated movie will be Superman: Man of Tomorrow, which features a new take on the Man of Steel‘s origin story. Man of Tomorrow will release on Digital HD on Sunday, August 23 on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on Tuesday, September 8. DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will likely follow that up sometime in Fall 2020.