BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY Exclusive Interview With Director Brandon Vietti About The Interactive DC Movie

BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY <font color=red>Exclusive</font> Interview With Director Brandon Vietti About The Interactive DC Movie

When we caught up with Batman: Death in the Family director Brandon Vietti, we asked the filmmaker about taking charge of the first DC interactive movie, his time working on 2003's Spider-Man, and more...

Batman: Death in the Family is the latest animated feature from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC, but as their first interactive movie, it's definitely a different experience to what we're used to. Viewers are given the opportunity to choose how the story unfolds, with those choices having a major impact on the paths both Robin and Batman are taken down. 

Veteran writer and director Brandon Vietti (Young Justice) once again takes on both of those roles here after previously helming the classic animated feature, Batman: Under the Red Hood

It was clearly no easy feat delivering such a unique experience for fans, but as we explained in our review of Batman: Death in the Family, it's a premise that proves to be a lot of fun as you explore where Jason Todd's story can be taken. When we caught up with Vietti late last week, we got to take a deep dive into the work that went into bringing this interactive adventure to Blu-ray.

We were also able to quickly ask about the filmmaker's time working on 2003's memorable Spider-Man animated series, a show set in the "Raimi-Verse" many believe ended far too soon. 

Needless to say, we want to extend a huge thank you to Brandon for taking the time to talk to us!
 

Chameleon33


Having directed Batman: Under the Red Hood, what was it about Jason Todd's story that drew you back for Batman: Death in the Family

What's great, first of all, about the concept of Batman: Death in the Family as a Blu-ray is the interactive experience. Putting the choices of how the story unfolds in the hands of the audience is, of course, something DC Comics did with their book, Death in the Family, where readers infamously got to choose whether Jason Todd lived or died, and they chose for him to die. When this project came up, the concept of doing an interactive story just made perfect sense. To go back to that moment in comic book history, go back to that story, and use it as a starting point to add on even more choices. Fortunately, we'd done Under the Red Hood which touched on that story a little at the start, and so we had a lot of material there animated. It was an interesting experience for us as storytellers; to take a story that we had already told, go back into it, re-edit it, re-present it in a new and different way, and use it as a launchpad for a whole bunch of other choices our audience gets to make themselves with their remote control. That's really the reason. It was the perfect story and getting to choose the path of how it unfolds is something that goes hand in hand with Death in the Family. 

As a writer and director, how challenging was it to map out the different directions this story plays out in, all while thinking about the technical side of how that would work?

It was very difficult [Laughs]. I spent quite a lot of time jotting down ideas on 3x5 card and mapping them out into branches that looked like a family tree or subway map. Figuring out what the different choice points could be, how much animation I could borrow from Under the Red Hood and tell a different story...I didn't want to do anything to take away from that. It's Judd Winnick's story, he came up with that for the comics, and he wrote the script for our movie. My number one goal was to respect everything that Judd did, but try to go back into that for the fun and entertainment value of making these choices. We could re-present that material in a new way and use it as a launchpad for entirely different directions for Jason Todd's life. I had to think of the editing process and my brain was both writing and editing the finished movie simultaneously as I had to think about where this thing would go in the end, before I could figure out the beginning. It doesn't normally work like that in writing, so it was an interesting mind game with lots of mental gymnastics trying to figure out how this would be constructed for maximum story entertainment and “produce-ability” from an animation standpoint. 

Were there ever any considerations to bring Jensen Ackles back to portray the older Jason Todd, or was it more important for you to give Vincent Martella the chance to play those different sides of Robin? 

I would have loved, if I'd had more time with the project, to expand and go further. It would have been great to bring Jensen back. Jensen did a fantastic job playing Jason Todd five years after that moment in the warehouse when The Joker blows up Robin. Jensen came in to play a guy who grows up five years later and his voice really carried that older Jason. In the original movie, Vincent played the Jason Todd who died in the warehouse that day, and all of our stories in Death in the Family take place immediately after the incident at the warehouse, so Vincent was the guy who had to play that character. It means we get to see a younger Jason evolve and become a different person as he goes down these different paths as chosen by our audience. 

Like a lot of people, I'm a huge Nolan North fan, and was curious what led to you casting him as Clark Kent for this feature? It definitely feels like a role he's well-suited to! 

I've been working with Nolan for many years, and I love how he portrays Clark Kent and Superman. He, of course, plays these characters for us on Young Justice, a show I produce with Greg Wiseman, and I used him as Superman in the LEGO Justice League movies as well. I love him. Nolan is so talented in terms of his range, whether it's a LEGO Superman that's about comedy or a Clark Kent Superman who is more in the dramatic world and feels more down to Earth in real-life. He's got that range and understanding of that character. I like that he has that history with the character already, because he could bring those textures he knows so well to this story. 

On a slightly different note, I know you worked on the Spider-Man TV series from 2003 and I think that's so underrated, and it was such a shame when it ended prematurely. What were you hoping a second season might explore with it being sandwiched between those first two Spider-Man movies? 
 

Chameleon33


Gosh, that's a tough one to answer. I directed on it and had a great time, and had always wanted to do a Spider-Man show. There are so many great action things you can do that are unique to Spider-Man and his world, but I didn't have much of a creative direction. I was really following a great staff of writers, and I was following their lead. I can't honestly tell you where it could have gone next as I wasn't in the writer's room and wasn't thinking about where it would go next. I was sad too [that it was cancelled]. Who doesn't love to draw Spider-Man? When you're an artist, that's just an awesome character to draw. 

I know a lot of fans are hoping he could come back in something like Into the Spider-Verse 2, which I can imagine would be a pretty cool thing for you to see? 

[Laughs] That would be interesting, yeah! It's certainly the right movie for something like that to happen. 

Going back to this film, Jason Todd was unpopular enough that fans voted for him to be killed in the comics, but as Red Hood, he's really come into his own – what is it about this character is it you think fascinates fans?
 
I think fans like Jason Todd because he's just a personal challenge to Batman. Any story that delves into who Batman is and what makes him tick I think is an instant win for fans, and nobody cuts deeper into who Batman is than Jason Todd. As a former Robin, who literally came up under Batman's wing, Jason is a character who fell to the dark side. With Batman's villains being so psychological and grounded, I think Jason falls into that same realm of dark, criminal psychology. He becomes one of the worst Batman villains, while simultaneously still being a family member, so to speak, for Batman. He's a personal challenge and his sense of justice, and that familial and moral collision between the two informs us about both characters and I think that's an endlessly fascinating concept for fans to get into. 

Batman: Death in the Family arrives on Digital on October 13th and Blu-ray on October 26th. 
 

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