There are few characters more iconic than Batman and Robin. When DC graduated Dick Grayson into the role of Nightwing, it’s no surprise that they added a new Robin to fill the void. However, it is quite shocking that fans hated Jason Todd and even voted to kill him. While this poll is called into question by many today, Jason Todd was killed off in 1988’s A Death in the Family. Years later, Jason Todd would be brought back to the world of comics as the Red Hood. This re-introduction was beloved and adapted into the 2010 film Batman: Under the Red Hood. Batman: A Death In The Family uses the base of the 2010 original to tell a few original stories that ask questions comic nerds have been asking since 1988. What would happen if things were just a little bit different?
Warner boasts that A Death In The Family features seven endings and many hours of content. Of course, each path couldn’t take you down a whole new film. Each segment is short but well-acted and animated. Some new scenes, when they took the risk, even look sharper than the originals from Under the Red Hood.
Unfortunately, I think A Death In The Family fails as a choose your own adventure. With the exception of a few cameos, your path is entirely dictated by your first choice. While I won’t spoil the new outcomes, you can choose if Jason is saved, cheats death alone, or dies. If you choose Jason dies, you’ll be taken down an abridged version of the original Under the Red Hood. If you choose that he cheats death, there are no more options after that, and if you choose that Jason is saved you get quite a lot more freedom. It feels unbalanced and even the “Jason is saved” route has very similar endings that don’t feel different enough as if I’ve made a choice.
Unfortunately, there are only two types of endings in A Death In The Family. Your path is either all fan-service, evoking characters like Hush, Tim Drake, and Batman of Zur En Arrh, or total shock-horror that seems to only exist to secure the R-Rating. Either way, I was dissatisfied with the product on offer here.
It gets even worse when you realize that there’s no good digital version. The version of the film released on HBO Max and digital stores only contains the recapping of Under The Red Hood. The only way to experience the new content is by purchasing the disk. It’s an absolute shame. Taking such a gamble, it’s hard to find it in stores either. I’m not sure I could recommend going through the effort of ordering a copy for it.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dark Knight and seeing the details packed in made me excited, but this just doesn’t hold my attention. DC has done better “what if Jason x” Elseworlds stories in the comics themselves. Even if your big draw to Batman is the Red Hood, I don’t think you’ll get much more out of this film. I loved the idea, and hope we get more like it, but this just didn’t deliver. Jason Todd– perfect failure of the Batman– in more ways than one.