DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will include five DC Comics stories, including the first interactive film presentation in Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) history. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts arrives from WBHE on Blu-ray and Digital starting October 13, 2020.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the interactive nature of this upcoming release will have to offer fans. According to the press release, Batman: Death in the Family is “WBHE’s first-ever venture into interactive storytelling that allows fans to choose where the story goes through an innovative navigation guided by the viewer’s remote control. Central to the extended-length short is an adaptation of “Batman: A Death in the Family,” the 1988 landmark DC event where fans voted by telephone to determine the story’s ending.”
The 2019-2020 series of shorts – which have been individually included on DC Universe Movies releases since Summer 2019 – include:
- Sgt. Rock
- Adam Strange
- The Phantom Stranger
DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on Blu-ray (USA $24.98 SRP) and Digital (19.99 SRP).
The Blu-ray features a Blu-ray disc with all of the shorts in hi-definition, including the fully-interactive, extended-length Batman: Death in the Family, plus a digital version of the four other 2019-2020 DC Showcase shorts. The Digital distribution features the Batman: Death in the Family extended-length short in a non-interactive format (pre-assembled version of the story, entitled Under the Red Hood: Reloaded), along with the other four 2019-2020 DC Showcase shorts, and three other non-interactive versions of the Batman: Death in the Family (entitled Jason Todd’s Rebellion, Robin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning) as bonus features (Note: not all Digital retailers offer bonus features with purchase). The Blu-ray also offers approximately five minutes of additional content within the Batman: Death in the Family story that is not included in the Digital version.
The official description reads:
Produced, directed, and written by Brandon Vietti, Batman: Death in the Family offers an inventive take on the long-demanded story. In the new animated presentation, the infamous murder of Batman protégé Jason Todd will be undone, and the destinies of Batman, Robin and The Joker will play out in shocking new ways as viewers make multiple choices to control the story. And while Batman: Under the Red Hood provides a baseline, the story also branches in new directions and features several characters previously unseen in the original film. Bruce Greenwood (The Resident, Star Trek, iRobot), Vincent Martella (Phineas and Ferb) and John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time) reprise their Batman: Under The Red Hood roles of Batman, young Jason Todd and The Joker, respectively. Other featured voices are Zehra Fazal (Young Justice) as Talia al Ghul and Gary Cole (Veep) as Two-Face and James Gordon.
“Batman: Death in the Family is essentially a comic book come to life,” said Brandon Vietti, whose DC Universe Movies directing credits include Batman: Under the Red Hood and Superman: Doomsday, and he is co-creator and co-executive producer of the Young Justice animated television series. “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.”
While you can select which narrative thread to follow, you can also choose to allow the story to tell itself, as there is an option to let the Blu-ray decide its own path.
“From the very first navigation card, we wanted to give the audience an impression of what they’re getting into, but then also give them something unexpected – maybe even something they’ll regret, so they have to think twice about every future choice they make,” Vietti explained. “Branched storytelling has to be stronger than just the gimmick of the choices – it has to be rewarding and offer new and worthwhile insights into the characters. It needs to involve you, and keep you searching for the next twist. So we sought to subvert expectations and do something very different.”
As for the shorts, the details are:
- Sgt. Rock – Originally attached to Batman: Hush, Sgt. Rock is executive produced and directed by Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) from a script by award-winning comics writers Louise Simonson & Walter Simonson and Tim Sheridan (Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Reign of the Supermen). The original tale finds battle-weary Sgt. Rock thinking he has seen everything that World War II can dish out. But he is in for the surprise of his life when he is assigned to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against an unstoppable platoon of Nazi zombies. Karl Urban (Star Trek & Lord of the Rings film franchises) provides the voice of Sgt. Rock. Also voicing characters in Sgt. Rock are Keith Ferguson, William Salyers, and Audrey Wasilewski.
- Death – Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” Death is produced & directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman) and written by J.M. DeMatteis (Batman: Bad Blood). In the story, Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, meets a mysterious girl who helps him come to terms with his creative legacy … and eventual death. Leonard Nam (Westworld) provides the voice of Vincent, and Jamie Chung (The Gifted, Big Hero 6) is the voice of Death. The cast includes Darin De Paul, Keith Szarabajka, and Kari Wahlgren. Death was originally included with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
- The Phantom Stranger – Attached as a bonus feature on the release of Superman: Red Son, The Phantom Stranger has Bruce Timm (Batman: The Killing Joke) at the helm as executive producer & director, and the short is written by Ernie Altbacker (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Batman: Hush). Set in the 1970s, the short find the enigmatic DC mystery man simultaneously playing both omniscient narrator and active character in a story of supernatural comeuppance for evil doers. Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick) gives voice to The Phantom Stranger, and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Impastor) provides the voice of Seth. The Phantom Stranger also features the voices of Natalie Lander, Grey Griffin, and Roger Craig Smith.
- Adam Strange – It was produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow), who also conceived the original story – which is written by J.M. DeMatteis (Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons, Constantine: City of Demons). The short was initially attached to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. On a rugged asteroid mining colony, few of the toiling workers are aware that their town drunk was ever anything but an interplanetary derelict. But when the miners open a fissure into the home of a horde of deadly alien insects, his true identity is exposed. He is space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long. Charlie Weber (How To Get Away with Murder) provides the voice of Adam Strange, alongside Roger R. Cross, Kimberly Brooks, Ray Chase, and Fred Tatasciore.
All five new DC Showcase shorts credits include Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) as co-producer and Amy McKenna (Wonder Woman: Bloodlines) as the producer. Sam Register is an executive producer.
“Interactive storytelling offers an entirely new dimension of entertainment for DC animated movie fans, and an exciting look into potential titles for the future,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing. “Brandon Vietti has crafted a uniquely involving, multi-tiered approach to captivating the audience with both popular story devices and some very unexpected plot twists.”
The DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family Special Features are:
- Audio Commentaries – Commentary tracks on Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death and The Phantom Stranger, plus one of the linear “Death in the Family” shorts (Under the Red Hood: Reloaded), by DC Daily hosts Amy Dallen and Hector Navarro.
- Three non-interactive versions of the Batman: Death in the Family – entitled Jason Todd’s Rebellion, Robin’s Revenge, and Red Hood’s Reckoning. (Note: not all Digital retailers offer bonus features with purchase).
DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will also be available on Movies Anywhere.
The upcoming release has a running time of 96 minutes (151 minutes for interactive storylines). It has been rated R for strong bloody images and some drug material.
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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