It’s one of the most infamous moments in Batman’s long comics history: Jason Todd, the second Robin, murdered by the Joker and also by the tight-run outcome of a phone-in reader poll. And now, when that fateful story heads to the DC animated universe, you’ll be able to relive that decision yourself all over again.
Through IGN today, Warner Bros. Animation gave us our very first look at the upcoming Batman: Death in the Family, a new adaptation of the 1988 storyline and heavily modified to serve as a prequel to the 2010 animated movie Under the Red Hood, which explored Jason’s return from beyond the grave as the titular anti-hero vigilante. But there’s a major twist: just as was in the case back in the ‘80s, when Jason was doomed by a vote difference of just 72 phone calls, viewers will be able to influence the outcome of the movie.
As the trailer shows, Death in the Family is a choose-your-own-adventure style piece of interactive media rather than your typical DC animated movie, in the style of Netflix’s own recent attempts at interactive media like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and the recent Carmen Sandiego special. Viewers won’t just be able to choose whether Jason lives or dies, but directly influence the ramifications that spin out of that huge decision.
And it seems like there can be some pretty wild alterations depending on how you choose. The opening of the trailer is relatively faithful to the original story, up until Jason’s impending doom. But it seems like there can be some wild swings from the original story — not just in Jason’s survival (one of the options is straight up for Batman to save him at the last minute, just as he could have in the original comic), but the fact it seems like Jason can become one of several alternate identities, from Red Hood, to Red Robin, to an altogether different, almost Hush-esque bandaged vigilante.
While the format itself isn’t particularly unique, this is WB’s first attempt at doing something like this with one of its DC movies — to the point that the studio is bundling in several previously released DC animated shorts with the film, to make up for the fact all its alternate outcomes means it has a shorter-than-usual-runtime. But experiment or not, it’s a cool way to honour the source material that inspired it in the first place.
Batman: Death in the Family is set to release August 24 digitally, and then on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultra HD September 9.