A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman: Death in the Family is a 2020 animated feature in which a vengeance-obsessed Robin goes rogue and tries to stop Joker and Batman must try to save the young protegé. On DVD and Blu-Ray, this is an interactive movie in which the viewer gets to decide the fates of Batman and Robin, and each decision leads to a further exploration of the themes of fate versus free will, redemption, vengeance, and the nature of evil. Expect lots of cartoon violence, including decapitations, people burned alive, building explosions, battles with assorted weaponry, a beating with a cane, and a stabbing in the eye. In addition to the title feature, this includes four short animated features starring other characters from the DC Universe, including Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, The Phantom Stranger, and Death. In these features, expect more cartoon violence, including an attempted suicide by gun, similar themes to the title program, as well as binge drinking, marijuana and cigarette smoking, Profanity throughout, including "a--hole," "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "crap," "ass," and "piss."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY, Jason Todd (Vincent Martella) is being trained to be the next Robin, but his thirst for justice and revenge get the better of him. Todd goes rogue and tries to track down Joker to Bosnia, where he's soon captured by Joker (John DiMaggio) and held prisoner in a warehouse. As Joker beats Robin with a cane and leaves him for dead as the warehouse is set to be detonated with bombs, Batman (Bruce Greenwood) must risk his life to save Todd. On DVD and Blu-Ray, this is an interactive movie in which you get to choose the fates of Batman and Robin. Each of the three outcomes leads to very different results, but each are connected by mediations on fate, justice, and the nature of evil. This also includes four bonus animated short features starring other characters in the DC Universe. Sgt. Rock, with the help of an unusual platoon, must stop the Nazis from reanimating corpses for the war effort. In an Arctic mining town, Adam Strange teeters on the brink of sanity as he obsessively works on inventing a Zeta Beam. The Phantom Stranger must save a seemingly impressionable teen girl from a Manson-esque death cult in 1960s California. Death pays a visit to a down-and-out artist struggling with the demons of his past.
Is it any good?
Aside from the interactive features, Batman: Death in the Family is standard noir fare for our modern-day Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder. The themes are familiar and should be easily recognized by anyone who hangs out in the DC Universe: the nature of good and evil, the blurred lines between the two, vengeance, redemption, how vigilante justice is no justice at all, fate versus free will, and so on. These are the recurring themes, and the interactive aspects to this movie simply amplify them, but don't really bring anything new to the table. It's enjoyable enough, but feels padded.
Speaking of padded, this also includes four short animated features from other characters in the DC Universe: Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, The Phantom Stranger, and Death. These explore similar themes as the title story, only with more zombies, aliens, Manson-esque death cults, and tortured artist angst. These are not interactive, and vary in quality in terms of storytelling originality. But if anything connects them all, it's the blurred lines between good and evil that coexist within each of these heroes and antiheroes. After decades of a Batman franchise rebooted to convey just that, to say nothing of all the line-blurring we've witnessed in The Sopranos, The Wire, and Breaking Bad, etc., one can't be faulted for shouting, "OK, I get it!" after yet another exploration of this theme on the streets of Gotham. Still, fans will find lots to take in and talk about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in animated features. Was the violence necessary for the stories, or did it seem gratuitous?
What are some of the common themes connecting each of these short animated features? How do the stories communicate these deeper ideas?
Did you like the interactive nature of the movie? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: October 14, 2020
- Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella, John DiMaggio
- Director: Brandon Vietti
- Studio: DC Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, and some drug material
- Last updated: August 20, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love superheroes
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch