"DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family" Animated Release Talkback (Spoilers)

"DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family" - Rate and Discuss This Animated Release!

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    4

James Harvey

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From the creative forces behind the DC Universe Movie line, DC Showcase puts the spotlight on favorite characters from throughout the annals of DC Comics in fascinating, short-form tales sure to entertain longtime and new fans alike. And now, DC Showcase Presents ... Batman: Death in the Family! What will you choose?


DC Showcase - Batman: Death in the Family
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC
Release Date: Blu-ray, Digital HD - October 13, 2020
Press Release: Click here!

Synopsis: Which path to justice will you take? Immerse yourself in this interactive movie, based on the iconic DC storyline event, where your choices will shape the destinies of Gotham City's Caped Crusaders. Trained as Batman's protege, Jason Todd brings a relentless sense of justice as Robin, who sets his sights on bringing down the Joker. But can Batman save Robin from a fate worse than death? Tragedy, revenge and redemption await in this groundbreaking DC film! Who will live? Who will die? Who will watch over Gotham? The choice is now yours!

Comments? Did you uncover all the different scenarios and endings in Batman: Death in the Family?

Please post all discussions and comments about the Batman: Death in the Family animated short and home video release in this thread! Remember, spoilers are allowed in this discussion.

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Pattern_Maker

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Just a heads up, if you buy the digital version it's just a recap of the events of Under the Red Hood, but with Bruce discussing the events with Clark in a diner. The flashback scenes, like the one, were Bruce is discussing having made Jason a Robin too early with Alfred are in the digital version, but no alternate paths.

That being said, Bruce confining what happened to Jason with Clark was really heartwarming. I
 

Palin Dromos

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The Digital version should have 4 versions of the story; Red Hood Reloaded (the original DTV condensed) as well as Jason Todd’s Rebellion, Robin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning which play out 4 of the possible interactive paths, just without the interactivity.
Blu-Ray is the only way to watch it with a chance to make choices.
 

Yojimbo

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I really enjoyed the format because our expectations get completely subverted with every choice that gets made and a brand new story plays out with endings and payoffs no one saw coming. Some of these have their own easter eggs fans will recognize and even different sets of characters beside the different endings. There are new point of views getting to learn what Batman and Red Hood are thinking and new endings for both. Like you get to hear Batman recap the events of Under the Red Hood in his own words and learn what he thought of certain things. It even makes Under the Red Hood even more tragic seeing what could have been. Call it tragic or cynical, but wow, Jason reforms only if Batman died trying to save him at the warehouse. But even then, a lot is still up to fate like what side Two-Face's coin drops on or Tim Drake happening to be there and have a chance encounter with Red Robin. Or Joker and Jason happen to go to the same diner at the same time and have small talk.

For the Reloaded one (Robin dies choice), I liked how the diner scene between Bruce and Clark mirrored a discussion their Earth-16 counterparts had in season 1 of Young Justice. Or if Robin cheats death, Talia recruits Jason to the League and presents baby Damian. Just the notion of Talia trying to get Jason into the League in a couple branches could be a nod to YJ Outsiders. I was surprised by how much Killing Joke was referenced here, from Barbara being in the wheelchair, or Joker in the diner re-telling the escapee joke. It was neat to see a sort what happens next if Batman saved Robin - Dick becomes Batman and Barbara becomes Oracle, effectively the new Dynamic Duo watching over Gotham. The Harleen Quinzel cameo in I think it was the kill Joker scenario after you choose to Catch Joker. Amusing how the Catch Joker choice leads to the more horrific outcomes. But wow, Zurr En Arrh Batman! Probably the most interesting outcome was after killing Joker in the diner then attacking the cops, Jason becomes Red Robin then if the Two-Face gets the clean heads, Red meets Tim Drake who convinces him to change and Tim becomes Batkid - I think a real life nod. It was also rather amusing Jason got pinned under a giant phone. Or the Judd Winick shout out. And omg, all the terrible ways Black Mask dies.

For those worried about having to do "work" watching this short or are more comfortable being a passive viewer, there are instructions displayed at the start and are pretty simple. Once a storyline is done, a row appears at the bottom of the screen that allows you to navigate backwards so you can make the other choice and see what happens and so you don't get lost.

While it makes sense within the context of the short, the heavy recycling of footage from Under the Red Hood got unnerving over time. Sometimes, the animation blends seamlessly with Death in the Family. Sometimes, the shift in quality is too obvious such as dark lighting from Under the Red Hood and the same scene being brighter in Death in the Family. It's hard to say if it would any different if Answer Studio, the overseas animation studio who did Under the Red Hood, worked on this short rather than Studio Mir. Still, Mir did a modest job. There also some cringeworthy still shots with voice over. Also, I suspect the nature of multiple choice and going backwards to get all the choices might make it hard for some to get invested in the short - will people like this as a What If? movie with no stakes or will it sorta be like limited rewatchability after all the branches are found? Or will some simply think it will be a hassle to go back and forth to see everything?

Bruce Greenwood and John DiMaggio reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively and slip back into their roles like no time has passed. Vincent Martella returns as Jason Todd and also voices Red Hood in the new scenes rather than Jensen Ackles which naturally took some adjusting to at first. Still, very intriguing to see an actor who was a teenager and now comes back in his mid-20s to voice both versions of Jason Todd. Zehra Fazal and Gary Cole are also in the cast. Fazal voices Talia and Cole voices Two-Face and Commissioner Gordon primarily. Fazal's choice to do an English accent was an interesting choice and does so much with in the short amount of time but I could see her taking up the role again should Talia have any lines in the upcoming Young Justice: Phantoms. Christopher Drake likewise returns and his soundtrack feels like a natural outgrowth from his work on Under the Red Hood's dark and nuanced soundtrack.

For anyone wondering, there is no 4K disc version for sale at the time of release nor a Target exclusive Steelbook and Best Boy exclusive figure.

The Blu-ray has nearly five extra minutes not in the digital version. Like in the digital version, the Red Robin branch only has the ending with Tim Drake ultimately becoming BatKid. The ending with Two-Face deciding to let Red Robin live and suffer is only on the Blu-ray. I think the branch of Jason surrendering to the police in the diner and becoming a jailbird is only on the Blu-ray, too. So Dr. Quinzel's cameo is exclusive to the Blu-ray. EDIT: So basically, 4 choices/branches are omitted from digital:
*The entire Kill Joker branch from the Catch Joker choice (but life branch is the ending of Red Hood's Reckoning anyway)
*The Death branch from Spare Joker after Catch Joker choice
*The Surrender branch from Kill Joker choice
*The Scarred heads branch from the Attack branch from the Kill Joker choice

The Blu-ray special features are trailers and commentary tracks. The trailers that appear before the menu are Superman: Man of Tomorrow and Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons: The Movie. The trailers are Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge, and Superman: Red Son. All five shorts have commentary tracks. The Death in the Family commentary is for the 30:53 Under the Red Hood: Reloaded linear version. Run times vary between 5 and 30 minutes depending on your choices but is 151 minutes total, counting all the interactive storylines and all five shorts. But I'll say this, the special features were bare bones. There weren't even any talking head featurettes. The commentary tracks only have the former DC Daily hosts, Hector Navarro and Amy Dallen. I don't dislike of either of them but the point of these commentary tracks are for the creatives who made the movie or short to talk about the making of and offer insights. This is really important with figures like Bruce Timm or Butch Lukic who have little to zero presence online to interact with fans. This was the rare chance to get in their heads. Especially with these Showcase shorts that have little press. These tracks are essentially fan reviews saying baseline information and trivia about characters we can find off Google ourselves along with a couple insights but chances are you already had those same thoughts. But if I wanted that, I'd go on YouTube or a podcast. Maybe the idea was to extend the fan interactive feature of the main short to the commentary and haves fans comment instead but sometimes ideas sound better on paper. Overall, the special features were a total disappointment.

Death in the Family enriches the fall of Jason Todd and rise of Red Hood in Batman: Under the Red Hood in a new interactive manner unprecedented in the world of DC animation but I think the real joy of it was while a Batman story in name, this is a Red Hood character piece that puts Jason Todd in another light.

3 out of 5
 
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Spider-Man

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I'm not sure why people are surprised the interactive aspect is only with the Blu-ray, DC was upfront about that from the first press release. Jim's review above even makes a point to go out of its way to mention it. This isn't anything new.

I really enjoyed this and thought the interactive aspect to it ewas much funner than I was expecting. I spent a few hours yesterday to make sure I got all of them. I was glad to see Tim Drake in there and the Batkid thing and the Harley Quinn cameo for one of the endings was also a nice touch. I also think "Zur-En-Arr" meaning "Zorro in Arkham" was brilliant. I think if I revisit this it will for sure be the digital version with the bonus stories. I can see myself doing the interactive part again but I'm not sure how much of a rewatch factor that will have for me really. The different outcomes were mostly great and I love how they almost always went a way different than what I was expecting. The stuff with Damian and Talia was a big surprise and I loved the Rorschach vibes the ending with Todd ending in prison gave me. A really well done experiment overall and I am curious to see what WB will do next with it.

Also, it looks like the cover is a swipe which is really disappointing of WB to let slide:
 

Otaku-sempai

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Now that I've had a chance to watch it, I was a bit disappointed that the "Jason Cheats Death" path was so linear. It did go off in a fairly interesting direction, but it was only that one direction. Also, the commentaries would have been far more interesting if at least some of them (at the very least the one for "Death in the Family") included the creative talent.
 

Troy Troodon

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I'l start off with the the story that closest follows Under the Red Hood... which is just a rehash of that film.

I mean I don't mind them revisiting it, but I hoped they'd do their own spin on that story to differentiate it from the movie. Maybe some re-animated scenes, some newly animated ones, new characters, additional dialogue from the previous characters, maybe even re-recordings for the re-imagined sequences. Something along those lines.

Heck, I honestly think this SHOULD have been a remake or re-telling of Under the Hood, just with some different takes on the scenes in that film like with Jason and Joker on the the bridge. That I think makes for a great conflict. In this version Jason wouldn't be hellbent on forcing Batman to kill joker or kill him instead, instead Jason would suffer from some sort of mentality disorder as a result of the Lazarus pit in that sequence we could Joker not only taking Jason's hypocrisy apart, but also laugh at realizing that Ra'as Al Ghul revived him and drove him insane.

Jason finally sees the error of his ways, and instead of killing Joker he leaves him bound for Gordon. Then Jason could confront Bruce one last time, realizing the values he was trying to pass on, and informing Bruce that all the things he did was not his fault. Bruce invites Jason to return to the Bat Family but Jason declines, stewing on the his own revelation of how he became something he always hated, and wants to resolve this issue himself.

Bruce turns for a second, then Jason disappears just like he does with Gordon.

Then there will be an epilogue with Jason meeting a little orphan girl who lifts his spirit somewhat (ala Tim with Red Robin Jason); and after Bruce's pep talk with Clark at the diner we pan to one more scene with Jason now as a more ultraistic Red Hood, and his new sidekick perched up on a building as the sun rises.

I also gotta say John Dimaggio's Joker has really improved since. Here he sounds much more energetic and his laughter almost invokes Mark Hamill's.
 

Fone Bone

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DC Showcase: Batman: Death In The Family

Ooh, there are gonna be people mad at that.

I haven't watched the interactive version on Blu-Ray yet but I watched the "regular" version of Digital copy along with the alternate endings. The short outside of any new endings is something I imagine will infuriate people. To put it charitably, after Jason Todd is killed in the beginning, the rest of the short turns into what modern television labels a "recap" of the film Batman: Under The Red Hood. But I and my generation know better. When I was a kid that was what was known as a "clip show", and even among kids it was considered the lowest form of entertainment. This "official" version is the not the prequel to the movie the producers sold it as. It's basically a Crib Notes version of it.

Either way, it reminded me that John DiMaggio was one of the finest castings of the Joker ever. To be honest, I am not as crazy about that other movie as other fans are. Many people have said it's the best animated Batman film, which is crazytalk. But DiMaggio knocked my socks off. He did a LOT of things similar to Mark Hamill and quite a few things better. It was a riveting performance.

The interesting things about DiMaggio's Joker are the things he DOESN'T do. Hamill is the best Joker voice. But that's because Hamill is extreme and over-the-top in everything he does. DiMaggio on the other hand gives Joker so much personality and nuance whenever he's NOT shrieking and laughing at the top of his lungs. There is subtlety to his Joker than Hamill lacks. Some of his spookiest moments actually involve him whispering. The scary design especially works for that too. It's amazing when you put it all together.

The reveal of it being Clark at the end was a pleasant surprise and no surprise at all.

The events of The Killing Joke are referenced, although it's clear this movie is in a different continuity than Bruce Timm's divisive version (which I happened to personally like).

Speaking of which, this short didn't need to be Rated R. I don't mean it was unnecessarily violent in order to earn an R rating. I mean it didn't deserve one to begin with. There wasn't even cursing, are at least not any you couldn't say on broadcast primetime family hour television. Joker's beating Robin to death is also shockingly understated.

I feel a little disappointed, but maybe if I watch the interactive version, I'd enjoy it more. But the truth is there is very little new material in the Linear version of the short. ***1/2.

Alternate Storylines:

These are the other three choices of the interactive short, played straight through with no on-screen remote instructions. They are basically every version of the film. What's striking is that all three versions have far more original animation footage and story than the canon version. Very weird. Overall: ****.

Jason Todd's Rebellion:

In this version of the short Batman "saves" Robin's life. Spoiler alert: Jason isn't grateful for it. He in fact seems to turn into a form of Hush trying to destroy Bruce's life from the inside, starting with taking the first steps in a plan to corrupt baby Damian Wayne.

This version is 12 minutes shorter, but there is a lot more new footage than in the "official" version. Is it weird that I was more satisfied with the wrong ending than I was the right one? ****.

Robin's Revenge:

In which it's Batman who dies. But for real this time.

These shorts are hinting that Jason was always going to turn bad no matter what. But this specific shorts says that if Bruce died there would be a version of him that didn't stay that way. Tim Drake's introduction was awesome even if Batkid was unfathomably lame.

I very much liked "Going Sane" Joker, and both him and Jason realizing each other's identities at different points. For Joker's it's Jason's callback to the Big Man (which keeps getting better every time I hear DiMaggio deliver the line) and for Jason it's the Joker reciting the unfunny joke he told and laughed about with Batman in The Killing Joke. Jason killing him feels a bit cathartic after that to be honest.

Wonder Woman and Flash both exist in the Under The Red Hood continuity, as does Cheetah. Some of the footage from the Jason Todd's Rebellion version is repeated.

Bruce's death scene was very moving, especially when he told Jason he loved him and called him his son.

This is probably my favorite version of the short. *****.

Red Hood's Reckoning:

This one was truly twisted.

Batman dies again, but instead of deciding to kill Joker, Jason dons the guise of the Red Hood as a secret good guy who supposedly never uses lethal force, to draw out and capture Joker. Instead Joker makes him realize that he has secretly gone homicidal and insane without realizing it.

The ending was ripped off from Hodor and Game Of Thrones.

These alternate shorts each came up with inventive horrible deaths for Black Mask, but this was the most wonderfully gruesome. I don't normally enjoy extreme on-screen violence or find it funny or "awesome". But Black Mask's various ghastly ends are a definite exception.

Super dark. ***1/2.
 

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