DC Goes Interactive With Batman: Death in the Family

“Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.”

Over 30 years ago DC Comics fans were given the remarkable chance to choose the fate of one Jason Todd as Robin. The question was simple: should he live, or die? After the votes of thousands of fans they incredibly chose for Jason to die. In turn, creating comic book history in the process.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is about to give us all the opportunity to answer a new question: if you had the chance to do it again, would you make the same choice? This time, there is no old-school hotline to call, or any online forms. Instead you can make the choice just by clicking your Blu-ray remote.

From the DC Comics announcement page:-

Produced by DC and Warner Bros. Animation, DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family is an anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts anchored by a new, extended-length short that adapts the iconic Batman: A Death in the Family comic book storyline by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. However, in a fitting twist, the Batman: Death in the Family short will take an interactive approach—a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment first—and offer viewers the opportunity to choose which direction the story goes by making choices using their remote control. As if that isn’t fascinating enough, this take on the classic storyline also boasts some intriguing connections to the popular 2010 DC Universe Movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Batman: Death in the Family comes from director Brandon Vietti, who also directed Batman: Under the Red Hood, which also celebrated its tenth anniversary last week. Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella and John DiMaggio will reprise their Batman: Under the Red Hood roles of Batman, young Jason Todd and the Joker, respectively. Bruce Greenwood’s performance as the Joker 10 years ago alone will spark interest in this role reprisal.

“Batman: Death in the Family is essentially a comic book come to life,” Vietti says. “We’ve paid homage to the 1988 interactive experience of DC’s A Death in the Family comics release by giving fans a unique opportunity to craft their own story through a branching tool that can lead in multiple directions. The viewer gets to choose these characters’ paths, and each choice paves an alternate future for all of the characters and, ultimately, the story.”

DC has presented its viewers with a real opportunity here. An opportunity to re-write a piece of history. And furthermore, to write new futures. Multiple endings, twists and turns, or simply the opportunity to play out the original story if you wish, are all on offer here.

But that’s not all on offer. Batman: Death in the Family is but one of five shorts. Although not interactive, the other four shorts are as follows:-

  • Sgt. Rock (below), originally attached to Batman: Hush, directed by Bruce Timm. Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Boys and Dredd 3D) provides the voice of the titular character who thinks he has seen everything on the battlefield. But now he is tasked to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against – what else – Nazi zombies.
  • Death, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, is produced and directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman). It tells the story of Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, who meets a mysterious girl that helps him come to terms with his creative legacy…and eventual death. Death was originally included with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
  • The Phantom Stranger has Bruce Timm (Batman: The Killing Joke) on board as executive producer and director, and was included on the release of Superman: Red Son. This one is set in the 1970s, as the enigmatic DC mystery man simultaneously playing both narrator and character in a supernatural story of good vs. evil.
  • Adam Strange, an original story attached to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow). It tells the origins of Adam Strange, played out in flashbacks, as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long as the local town drunk.

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DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital from October 13, 2020. If you want the interactive experience of Batman: Death in the Family, you’ll need to buy the Blu-ray edition. The digital edition features the Batman: Death in the Family extended-length, non-interactive version of the story. Three other non-interactive versions of the main short (entitled Jason Todd’s RebellionRobin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning) should be included as bonus features, along with the other four 2019-2020 DC Showcase shorts.

With DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family, DC have invited us to make a choice. Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.

DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital starting on October 13, 2020.

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Superman: The Man of Tomorrow – The New DC Animated Movie Ushering in a New Era

“it is time for the DC animated movies to get a fresh start themselves. And this time, they’re doing it with the hero that began the DC Animated Original Movies line: Superman.”

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If there’s one thing DC loves, it’s a reboot. Usually a tactic reserved for comic books, as the continuity is “reset” every few years, this has now become a thing in comic book movies. There have been “reboots” for both Superman and Batman in Hollywood. The former began with Man of Steel, now part of the DC Extended Universe, while the Batman franchise, now also part of the same universe, is about to venture into its second reboot in less than 20 years. Now it is time for the DC animated movies to get a fresh start themselves. And this time, they’re doing it with the hero that began the DC Animated Original Movies line: Superman.

The release of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War last month marked the end of the 6-year, 20-movie DC animated movie universe that began with Justice League: War. It was a universe within a universe, with the full series of original movies truly beginning with Superman: Doomsday in 2007. Now, with Butch Lukic at the helm as the new Supervising Producer, a new continuity begins with Superman: Man of Tomorrow.

Warner Bros have already dropped the trailer and debuted the box art and release date for the upcoming movie:-

As usual, there are several special features included. They have been revealed as:-

  • Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos Featurette
  • Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found Featurette
  • Look Back: Justice League vs. The Fatal Five Featurette
  • Look Back: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Featurette
  • From the DC Vault: Superman: The Animated Series, “The Main Man, Part I”
  • From the DC Vault: Superman: The Animated Series, “The Main Man, Part II”
  • Movie trailers for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, and Superman: Red Son.
  • A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie — An advanced look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.

The voice cast includes Darren Criss (Glee) as Clark Kent/Superman, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as Lex Luthor, Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas) as Lois Lane, Brett Dalton (Agents of SHIELD) as Parasite/Rudy Jones, Ryan Hurst (The Walking DeadSons of Anarchy) as Lobo, Ike Amadi (Mass Effect 3Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) as Martian Manhunter, Neil Flynn (The MiddleScrubs) as Jonathan Kent, Bellamy Young (ScandalProdigal Son) as Martha Kent, Cristina Milizia (DC Super Hero Girls) as Maya, Petey & Kaylie, Eugene Byrd (BonesLEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures) as Ron Troupe, April Stewart (South Park) as Mrs. Ross, and Piotr Michael (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) as Perry White, as well as Cissy Jones (Firewatch) and David Chen (Gotham).

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The movie will be directed by Chris Palmer, who has previously directed several episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender, and written by Tim Sheridan, the scriber of The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. The official synopsis is as follows:-

“It’s the dawn of a new age of heroes, and Metropolis has just met its first. But as Daily Planet intern Clark Kent – working alongside reporter Lois Lane – secretly wields his alien powers of flight, super-strength and x-ray vision in the battle for good, there’s even greater trouble on the horizon. Follow the budding hero as he engages in bloody battles with intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo and fights for his life to halt the attack of power-hungry alien Parasite. The world will learn about Superman … but first, Superman must save the world!”

Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing, said of the movie:-

Superman: Man of Tomorrow is an inspiring retelling of the DC Universe Movies’ backstory for The Man of Steel, taking the audience to his early days as an intern at the Daily Planet – and his beginnings as a learning-on-the-job DC Super Hero. Darren Criss and Zachary Quinto have wholeheartedly embraced their roles as Superman and Lex Luthor for this film, and the end result is a special addition to canon of films that every Superman fan will want to add to their collection.”

Having Lukic at the helm will bring a new visual aesthetic to Superman: Man of Tomorrow that departs from the animation styles of previous producers Bruce Timm (23 films) and James Tucker (17 films), thus far represented in the DC Universe Movies.

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow hits digital on August 23, before the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack arrives on September 8. In the UK, HMV has it listed for September 7.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – An Upbeat Inspirational Superhero Movie

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This past month I decided to treat my daughter to my local cinema’s “Movies for Juniors” promotion. £2.50 a ticket gets you into an early doors family movie showing, in the biggest screen the complex has to offer. Can’t say fairer than that. But this trip was met with initial caution and scepticism.

Having used the same promotion to watch Incredibles 2 the previous weekend to this visit, it was met with mixed results from the younger contingent in the audience. Murmurs of “is it finished yet?” were common-place at times, given the 2-hour running time. Now that is not a damning evaluation against Incredibles 2 as a movie. It is a remarkable return to the fun, family/superhero comedy vibe 14 years in the making. But it should be no surprise that a family movie, with many minutes of overly-saturated plot-elements, will test the best of attention spans of the lower demographic. My daughter included.

Then came along the next Movies for Juniors option – Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. I’d never seen its namesake series Teen Titans Go! before. As a superhero comics fan, particularly Teen Titans, this is a pretty terrible effort from me. Having viewed the trailer together it garnered giggles, gusto and a resounding “let’s go daddy!” I have to admit I was as excited as she was.

It had been quite some time since I’d seen a movie without reverting to my usual dossier-compiling habits (Wikipedia/IMDB/general consensus), so the aforementioned cautiousness and scepticism elevated to eagerness and nervous excitement for the both of us. In the back of my mind however I couldn’t help reminding myself of the previous weekend’s minor misgivings.

A child’s happiness and joy is the most wondrous feeling for a parent. For me personally it is the most amazing feeling in the world. As is the feeling when a decision made reaps of success in abundance. And so it was, just 90-or-so minutes later, that 2 children left the cinema. Not just a father and daughter taking a speculative trip to occupy a Saturday morning. For you see, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies wasn’t just an excellent movie, it was a surprisingly spectacular movie experience for the both of us.

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Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a smarty-pants spin on superhero movies and superhero tropes. Craving respect from their fellow superheroes such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the team believe a Hollywood movie is the solution. And so Robin (voiced by Scott Menville) and his crackpot team of Cyborg (Khary Payton), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Raven (Tara Strong) and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) venture to Hollywood to create the movie that will garner that respect. What unfolds is a wacky, silly, stupid yet slick and smart musical action adventure in the comedy mould of Lego Batman.

For anyone who has seen the 5-season strong Teen Titans Go! series, the chibi-style animation, characters and humour remains true to that form in its big screen counterpart. But as with many transitions to the cinema, all those attributes are tweaked with considerable success from its original format. Particularly the low brow humour.

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Its superb voice cast, again retained from the series, maintain the madcap mood relentlessly. Factor in the magnificently meta additional cast including Nicholas Cage as Superman (finally), his real-life son Kal-El as a young Bruce Wayne and Will Arnett (who also produced the movie) as Slade and you’ve got a world class cast. Also deserving of an honourable mention is British comedian Greg Davies also, and inspired choice for Balloon Man. “Hello!”

But such low brow humour and guffaws can be too much for some. Upon treating my daughter to an after-movie McDonald’s Happy meal as a treat, cries from select other parents declaring their hatred for “the worst movie I’ve ever seen” was met with a wry smile from myself. A simple yet resounding “it wasn’t, Daddy, it was excellent!” daughter-sponsored review became a suitable counter-argument. And fair enough, if such simplistic, pop-culture humour isn’t for you, you went to the wrong movie. But it is its simplicity, pop-culture and fourth wall comedy that makes it so good. Its superhero origins-inspired gags are worth the admission price alone.

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Such a successful cinema visit still resonates at home almost a month after the event. The soundtrack has become a staple listen for car journeys, and has quickly become a quotable source of humour around the house. Bear in mind my daughter is only 6 years old. And yes I am proud of my achievements. We’re both now well into the third season of the show also (thanks to Prime Video, watch it now), which is also relentlessly hilarious. Given each episode lasts a little over 10 minutes, its transition into a 90-minute movie is a remarkable and genius achievement. Thank you Warner Bros, I now excitedly await the DVD release. And you should too.