Have you always wanted to be in the shoes of The Dark Knight? But there’s a catch! You will have to take one of the most difficult decisions in Batman’s life; saving Jason Todd from the Joker!
The DC Animated Universe (DCAU) has been consistently producing universally acclaimed movies in the animated genre. And now, one of the most popular Batman stories will come to the animated medium. Yes, Batman: Death in the Family is finally coming up as the next movie in the DC Animated Universe. But, there’s even more for you in the store.
The trailer of Batman: Death in the Family was released exclusively on IGN as the next addition to the series of movies in the DC Animated Universe. As a prequel to DCAU’s Batman: Under the Red Hood, Death in the Family shows the barbaric death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker, following which the Boy Wonder donned the costume of the dreaded Red Hood.
Back in 2018, Netflix revolutionized the viewing experience by releasing Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The first of its kind, Bandersnatch is the first truly interactive movie attached to the critically acclaimed anthology series Black Mirror. As the first ‘choose-your-adventure’ movie, the viewer can actually alter the storyline by choosing the character’s decisions. From choices as simple as choosing tea over coffee to gruesome choices like burying or chopping a dead body, Bandersnatch is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Following the footsteps of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the DC Animated Universe has decided to make Batman: Death in the Family an interactive experience for the viewers. With multiple choices at hand, Batman: Death in the Family is not a regular straightforward prequel to the critically acclaimed Batman: Under the Red Hood. As the viewer has the power to make pivotal decisions on the behalf of the Dark Knight and a few other characters which will determine the survival of Jason Todd, Death in the Family can branch out into numerous possible endings.
In the first trailer, the implications of the multiple options left to discover by the viewer can be seen as Jason Todd has returned to Gotham covered in bandages. Deviating from the original story where the apparent death of Jason Todd sets the chain of events which created Red Hood, the interactive Batman: Death in the Family can have several different endings based upon the viewer’s choice. In one of the many choices, Red Hood might never even come into existence as Batman saves Robin from his impending death.
The popularity of letting the viewer/user control the plot with his/her choices was started by open-world video games. In the massively popular Far Cry 4, the major protagonist can choose different options which affect the plot of the game.
The decision to make Batman: Death in the Family an interactive movie might have stemmed from its publication history. Written by Jim Starlin (creator of Thanos), Batman: A Death in the Family took an unusual path before publishing the comic-book.
After the first Robin, Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson became Nightwing, the position of Robin was passed on to Jason Todd. An impulsive character, Jason Todd soon became a highly unpopular character among fans. Aware of this sentiment, the then editor of DC Comics, Dennis O’Neil decided to let the fans decide the fate of Jason Todd by setting up a 1-900 voting line. Over 10,000 fans voted to decide the fate of the foul-mouthed, bad-tempered Jason Todd. A narrow majority of the votes sealed the fate of Jason Todd as the fans decided to kill the character.
The decision to let fans decide the fate of such a major character was met with polarizing views. Popular writers like Frank Miller harshly criticized the decision, even calling it as the most cynical decision taken by DC Comics. Newspapers such as USA Today and Reuters savagely attacked the bold decision by terming it as a barbaric move.
Later, Batman: A Death in the Family has been considered as one of the finest comic-book storylines depicting the Dark Knight. The bold move to kill a major character like Robin pushed the envelope for comic-books to explore darker and more mature themes of loss, guilt, and death. The decision to retire such a popular character like Robin had its own repercussions, which are still visible in the current Batman storylines.
Batman: A Death in the Family has been the inspiration behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), where Batman falls into the trap of the Joker and fails to rescue Rachel Dawes from a room filled with explosives. Rachel’s death haunts Bruce Wayne which forces him to retire from his crime-fighting life.
In the DC Extended Universe, the death of Jason Todd was hinted in Zack Snyder‘s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when Bruce Wayne poignantly looks at a charred Robin costume inside a glass case with ‘HA HA HA! Joke’s on you Batman’ painted on it. In Suicide Squad (2016), the Joker and Harley Quinn confirm that they killed Robin, directly referring to A Death in the Family.
Like the comics, the first interactive movie from the DC Animated Universe might attract a lot of attention upon its release. The bold decision to let the viewers decide the fate of the Boy Wonder surely sounds promising, but only time can tell if it will receive wide praise upon its release.
Batman: Death in the Family will have the same actors from Batman: Under the Red Hood reprising their roles. Bruce Greenwood will return as Batman, alongside Jensen Ackles (Jason Todd/Red Hood), John DiMaggio (Joker), Neil Patrick Harris (Dick Grayson/Nightwing), Jason Issacs (Ra’s Al Ghul), Jim Piddock (Alfred Pennyworth), and Gary Cole as Commissioner James Gordon.
Batman: Death in the Family is set to release this fall on Blu-ray and Digital HD.